Dee had a solid effort in Anaheim and continues to lead the team in scoring 14.3 points per game to go along with 4.3 assists. One of the most impressive parts of his development has been his improvement shooting from the perimeter where he's 15-of-29 on the year. He's also been good on the defensive end, which will be key again in this contest against both Anthony Johnson and Ronnie Johnson off the bench. Those guys make the Boilermakers offense much better when they're able to get into the lane and make plays for themselves or others. You have to keep them out of the lane and keep them off of the offensive glass. Anthony Johnson is a really strong rebounder from the guard position, leading the team with 3.8 defensive rebounds per game and coming in third overall with 4.5 total.
Slight Edge Xavier
Semaj Christon Fr (6-3, 187) vs Terone Johnson Jr (6-2, 199)
Christon had his coming out party in Anaheim, averaging 19.0 points, 6.3 assists, 3.3 rebounds and 1.0 steals over the three game stretch. He was named to the DirecTV Classic All-Tournament Team and was also awardd Atlantic-10 Conference Rookie of the Week honors. He's so good in transition and just attacking the rim even in the halfcourt, and this is a good matchup for him as Purdue's guards aren't great defensively. If Semaj is aggressive attacking the rim, while not forcing the issue too much and playing out of control, he'll get plenty of opportunities for freebies at the line. Johnson led the Boilermakers with 19 points earlier in the season in their win over UNCW and tied his career high for assists with six in their last game against Clemson. He averages 11.4 points per game, 3.0 rebounds and 3.4 assists. He plays 30 minutes a game because he makes plays while also taking care of the ball with a 3.4:1 assist to turnover ratio on the year. Just like with Anthony, Xavier must also keep this Johnson from penetrating.
Slight Edge Xavier
Justin Martin So (6-6, 205) vs D.J. Byrd Sr (6-5, 228)
Martin has been really consistent with his play so far this season and is the only player that has scored in double figures in every game. He's third on the team in scoring at 12.3 points per game and second in rebounding at 5.8, while shooting 55.8 percent from the field. The Musketeers could use some big threes from their wing on the road in a hostile environment, but the real key to his play will be on the defensive end. He's going to have a really difficult matchup on that end of the court with senior DJ Byrd. Byrd is a big physical wing that can really shoot it from the outside. He hit six threes against Clemson and scored 22 points in the win for the Boilermakers. Martin is going to have to be really tough chasing him through screens and locking in mentally on the defensive end to keep him from getting off for a big scoring night. Martin will also have to keep him off of the glass as he's not afraid to use his big body and crash on the offensive end, averaging 4.3 rebounds per game.
Slight Edge Purdue
Jeff Robinson Sr (6-10, 225) vs Jacob Lawson So (6-8, 217)
Robinson showed up with big halves in the Drexel and Drake wins, scoring 13 points and grabbing multiple offensive rebounds in each game. The Musketeers are going to need Robinson's best effort on the glass tonight. He has to use his length and athleticism to combat the physicality and size of Purdue's bigs. The Boilermakers will likely be the most physical team the Musketeers' face all year, and while that's not Robinson's game, he'll have to make his presence felt. Also, he's one of the seniors on this team and needs to help get this team on track in their first real road game. Lawson is a big body, in there to bring energy and fouls. He doesn't really play starter-like minutes, getting just 15 minutes a game, but he's started the last two games and is shooting 68.8 percent from the floor and also leads the Boilermakers in steals with 1.5 per game. A lot of his points come off dunks around the rim.
Slight Edge Xavier
Travis Taylor Sr (6-8, 216) vs A.J. Hammons Fr (7-0, 280)
Taylor had a disappointing effort in Anaheim. Over the course of the three games he averaged just 6.3 points, scoring only three in both the Drexel and Drake games. He also was inconsistent with his effort on the glass, grabbing just three boards in the Pacific game and one against Drake. He also struggled with turnovers at times again. He needs to take his time when he catches the ball and slow down a little bit in this one. He can have success against a young Purdue front-court. Hammons is a massive object in the paint, though he's still very raw. He's played one very good game, and it just so happened that game was on national TV which has garnered him some positive pub. In reality, he's been rather inconsistent. He is very big though, and bigger post players have given Xavier some trouble so far this season, especially Travis Taylor. Hammons only plays 18 minutes, partly because of foul trouble and partly because he's not in great shape. When he's on the court, Xavier has to pull him away from the basket as best as possible and use Taylor's quickness. Also, Taylor's go-to up-and-under move should work well against the freshman who is eager to block shots. Hammons does lead the team in offensive boards with 2.5 per game, so keeping him off of the class will be key.
Xavier Bench vs Purdue Bench
Xavier has been a much better team when they've gotten some bench production. The games that Brad Redford has hit shots in he's made a big impact for X, and Isaiah Philmore brought great energy on both ends in the last game in Anaheim against Drake. The Musketeers aren't near as deep as Purdue, but getting some production from their bench will go a long way towards staying in this game on the road. The Boilermakers have 10 guys averaging double-digit minutes through the first six games of the year and they boast an average bench scoring margin of +14.0 points per game. Freshman guard and younger brother of Terone, Ronnie Johnson is Purdue's sixth man and has added a spark and brought play-making ability to the Boilermakers' offense, leading the team with 3.5 assists per game and scoring in double-figures in three of six games. Painter has a host of capable guys in the front-court off the bench, with freshman Donnie Hale and junior Travis Carroll being the two biggest contributors off the bench. As Brian Snow stated on the podcast, the Boilermakers' depth inside allows them to be really aggressive and foul a ton. They are really deep.
Significant Edge Purdue
Purdue isn't great by any means. The Boilermakers are young and still trying to figure things out themselves. This will be a tough game for the Musketeers to pull out though as its their first true road test in a hostile environment. Neither team is really a good matchup for each other. Purdue will have trouble guarding Dee and Semaj, and if Xavier's bigs play well then they may be able to use their quickness to get the Boilermakers' bigs in foul trouble. On the other side, DJ Byrd presents a tough matchup for Xavier as a physical wing that's going to run off a lot of screens to free himself. Also, the Boilermakers are really physical and really tough to keep off of the offensive glass, so Xavier will have to turn their effort on the glass up a few notches. This game is hard to predict with both teams playing a little inconsistent early on. While Xavier can definitely beat Purdue, it's tough to favor the Musketeers in their first real road environment.
Score Prediction: Purdue 66 Xavier 62