Basketball Preview: Purdue
Brian McLaughlin, Christian Flores, Anthony Spada and Will Desautelle break down Penn State's upcoming game against the Boilermakers.
As the Big Ten season is coming to a close, the Nittany Lions are playing some of their best basketball of the year. Unfortunately, they struggled defensively against a decent Nebraska Cornhuskers team.
While Nebraska only connected on five of their three point attempts, the Cornhuskers shot 55.4 percent from the floor. The Nittany Lions were also outrebounded by 11, a number that is too high to win in the Big Ten.
Penn State needs to control the glass at home against a Purdue team that has won eight of their past nine games, including a 17-point win against Michigan State most recently. The Boilermakers are led by probable Big Ten Player of the Year Caleb Swanigan, who has been a menace on the boards.
Swanigan recorded 24 points and 15 rebounds against the Spartans, while only attempting 12 shots. He has recorded 24 double-doubles on the season and has recorded one in nine straight games.
Swanigan is an imposing matchup for the Penn State big men as Mike Watkins, Julian Moore and Lamar Stevens will be tasked with stopping him. Watkins might be the best man to cover him as he is second in the Big Ten in blocks, but Swanigan’s ability to play on the perimeter will draw Penn State’s best interior defender away from the basket.
The freshman point guard battle between Carsen Edwards and Tony Carr will be intriguing as they affect their team in different ways. Edwards is a tough guard with the ability to break the defense down and has a decent three point shot.
Carr has been erratic in terms of getting assists as he recorded 14 in triple-overtime against Indiana, but did not have any against Nebraska. He needs to set the table for the Nittany Lions if they want any chance of beating a top-ranked team.
Stevens has developed the most over the course of the season as he has become a confident scorer and a better rebounder. Over the past five games, he is averaging 18.2 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.
Stevens needs to provide that type of scoring because Penn State does not have a dominant go-to scorer this year. His defense will also be needed as Vince Edwards is a very capable secondary scorer, averaging 11.7 points per game.
Edwards is extremely erratic, as he scored 26 points one game after he failed to register a point. If he can provide a scoring punch, Penn State will need Shep Garner and Payton Banks to step up.
Garner and Banks are the two most inconsistent players on the Penn State team as both players are capable of getting red-hot, but are also capable of poor shooting displays. Garner has scored 14 points in his last three games, going 2-13 from behind the arc.
Banks did score 24 points against Illinois, but that was sandwiched between him scoring seven total points in two games. He is the leading shooter on the team, shooting 37.6 percent, and his ability to get hot could provide the Nittany Lions a spark off the bench.
Purdue is in the hunt for a Big Ten regular season crown and understand that they probably need to win out to win the conference. The Boilermakers should roll on the road against Penn State like they did a month ago when they won by 25 points.
Joe Esquivel-Murphy is a junior majoring in broadcast journalism and Spanish. To contact him, firstname.lastname@example.org.