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SEASON SO FAR: The Boilermakers have started the season 5-2 with key wins over Xavier and Valparaiso. Their two loses have come against quality competition of Stanford and Butler. It appears as if this is another middle of the pack Purdue team. Despite playing the likes of Oakland, Radford and William and Mary, the Boilermakers have yet to blow a team out, winning every game by less than 18.
The Boilermakers have balance scorers with five players averaging in double figures.
FRONTCOURT: John Allison gives the Boilermakers a solid center. The 6-10 senior gives the team scoring and rebounding down low as he averages 11.5 ppg and 5.2 rpg. He has also showed a good ability to block shots and play low post defense. Allison is shooting an amazing .765 from the field. Darmetreis Kilgore is a JC transfer who should provide instant help at forward. The explosive scorer can put points on the board.
Rodney Smith is the team leader and its best player. Smith can go inside out. He hit 44.3% of his three pointers a year ago and is hitting them at a 42% clip this season. Despite stepping outside to launch three's, Smith still led the team in fieldgoal percentage last season. This year Smith isn't shooting as well from the field, but is scoring 11.5 ppg. Brett Buscher, Matt Carroll and Kevin Garrity are also solid performers can come off the bench to help on the front court.
BACKCOURT: There is an opening at point guard. Last year Carson Cunningham filled the role but he graduated. Willie Deane has offensive skills and led the team in steals, but he's been a defensive liability. Deane has scored 11.0 ppg and dishes out 3.6 apg. Sophomore Austin Parkinson leads the club in assists with 6.2 a game. His assist –to-turnover ratio is an astounding 3.1-1.
Maynard Lewis has assumed the scorers role. He's averaging a hair over 15 ppg, including 47% from behind the arc.
OUTLOOK: Like last year this isn't a standout Purdue team. But also like last year this is a team that could trip up the Cats. Arizona is coming off of a brutal stretch of games and Purdue will be the first unranked opponent for the Cats all season. If the Cats are looking past the Boilermakers to Michigan State then they could be beaten. If they remain focused they should win.
Arizona must get solid inside play from their young post players, especially on defense. Allison is a good player and could have a big game if the freshmen are unprepared. The Boilermakers will also run a five man motion offense that will force the post players to come out and defend on the perimeter.
Purdue also loves to screen a lot and the Wildcats are trying to prepare.
"We've been running a ton of screens in practice," said Will Bynum. "We've been doing it all week."
Another key will be if the Cats can get continued scoring from the two-guard spot. If the three juniors have to carry the entire load, than that could give Purdue the opening they need.
ANALYSIS & PREDICTION: Unlike past Boilermaker big men, Allison is not a real physical presence. I don't think you'll see Fox, Frye or Latimore with a lot of quick fouls unless they get careless. Matt Carroll could give the Wildcats some problems, but Luke Walton will more than counter any threat Carroll might offer.
The real difference once again, should be the play of Jason Gardner. He has been the dominant force for the Wildcats in every game, and it shouldn't be any different Saturday. Purdue simply does not have the perimeter quickness to stop Gardner, and the Boilermakers might not be able to stop Bynum and Soudamire from having equally big games.
Final Score: Arizona 77, Purdue 60