Purdue (11-10) at Northwestern (12-10)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, February 2, 12 p.m. (et)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Welsh-Ryan Arena (8,117) -- Evanston, Illinois. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Purdue 9-4, NU 7-7. Away Record: Purdue 2-3, NU 3-3. Neutral Record: Purdue 0-3, NU 2-0. Conference Record: Purdue 4-4, NU 3-6. Series Record: Purdue leads, 122-43.
GAME NOTES: A pair of teams hoping to recover from double-digit losses to two of the top teams in the country get together in the Land of Lincoln on Saturday, as the Northwestern Wildcats play host to the Purdue Boilermakers in a Big Ten Conference bout.
The Boilermakers were blown out by Indiana at home on Wednesday night, 97-60, in one of the most one-sided affairs in the history of that bitter rivalry. Prior to that loss, Purdue had won three of its last four, with the only setback coming against top-ranked Michigan in Ann Arbor.
After losing at Michigan on Wednesday, 68-46, the Wildcats are coming into this meeting with Purdue having dropped their last two games by significant margins, including a 64-49 loss at Nebraska, one of the worst teams in the conference. Northwestern has lost three of its last four and has failed to crack 60 points in any of those contests.
Purdue heads into Welsh-Ryan Arena on Saturday with a 122-43 advantage in the all-time series, and is winners of four in a row against the Wildcats. The Boilermakers' last trip to Evanston resulted in a 58-56 win on a Robbie Hummel jumper in the closing seconds of a back-and-forth affair.
Cody Zeller scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, helping No. 3 Indiana rout the Boilermakers earlier in the week, the Hoosiers biggest margin of victory ever in West Lafayette. Indiana put the game away with a 14-1 spurt midway through the second half, and Purdue couldn't get closer than 26 after that. Indiana shot 57.1 percent in the second half and made a season-high 12 3-pointers. The Boilermakers were led by a pair of freshmen. A.J. Hammons scored a season-high 30 points and Ronnie Johnson added 13. No other Boilermaker scored more than four points.
Terone Johnson (13.1 ppg, 5.1 rpg), Hammons (10.7 ppg, 6.2 rpg) and D.J. Byrd (10.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg) are all averaging double figures for the Boilermakers, with Ronnie Johnson (9.4 ppg) on the cusp. As a team, PU puts up 65.8 ppg while allowing 63.1 ppg, and the team is +5.4 in rebounding margin while holding the opposition to just 39.1 percent field goal accuracy. The Boilermakers are the top rebounding team in the Big Ten in conference games, grabbing an average of 38.0 per tilt.
A hot start for top-ranked Michigan proved to be too much for Northwestern to overcome, as the Wildcats were blown out of the building in Ann Arbor. The Wolverines took a 36-21 advantage into the intermission as they shot 60.9 percent from the field and didn't commit a turnover in the half. For the game, the Wildcats were limited to 37.3 percent efficiency, while Michigan shot 51 percent and committed just two turnovers on the night. Alex Olah led NU with 10 points, while Jared Swopshire contributed eight points and as many rebounds.
Reggie Hearn leads the team in scoring, hitting 47.4 percent of his total shots, including almost 37 percent of his long-range tries, to net 13.7 ppg. The loss of Drew Crawford for the season with an injured shoulder (13.5 ppg) continues to haunt the 'Cats, but Dave Sobolewski (11.2 ppg) and Swopshire (9.6 ppg, 6.6 rpg) have tried their best to pick up the slack. Still, NU averages just 63.4 ppg, but does a nice job defensively in yielding only 61.8 ppg.
Northwestern has had trouble scoring points lately and Purdue plays solid defense and has several scoring options. Expect the Boilermakers' youth movement to continue to shine as Purdue walks away with a close road victory.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Purdue 66, Northwestern 60
02/02 10:41:18 ET