INDIANAPOLIS (IN) - Butler (7-2) is getting ready for the 3rd annual Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Bulldogs will take on Purdue (8-2) on Saturday at 6PM EST. InsideTheDawgPound takes a look at what to expect.
Know Your Foe
Record - 8-2 (0-0)
Coach - Matt Painter - 9th Season, 184-97 (209-102 Overall)
Mascot - Boilermakers, Purdue Pete
Conference - Big Ten
Enrollment - 31,000
Tale of the Tape
Butler enters the game after what amounted to an exhibition game against Manchester. The Bulldogs trounced the Spartans 100-41. Thirteen Bulldogs scored against Manchester. Butler was led by Kellen Dunham with 15 points and 14 points from Khyle Marshall. Purdue enters the game on a three game winning streak with the most recent win coming against Eastern Michigan 69-64. The Boilermakers were led by freshman guard Bryson Scott with 16 points, while sophomore center A.J. Hammons added 8 points and a team-high 7 rebounds. The last time these two teams met in 2011, Butler won 67-65 on an Andrew Smith tip off a Roosevelt Jones miss at the buzzer.
Players to Watch
Kellen Dunham - Dunham continues to lead the Bulldogs and is the focal point on offense. He is averaging 18.7 points per game, which ranks 2nd in the Big East. Dunham has been deadly from three shooting a blistering 47.5% on the season. He also craves the ball in crunch time and loves going to the free throw line, where he is shooting 80%.
Khyle Marshall - Marshall is second on Butler in scoring at 17 ppg and rebounding as well at 6.6 rpg. The versatile forward has been tough to stop for opponents and it should be more of the same on Saturday against Purdue. The Boilermakers may struggle to find the right player to matchup against Marshall's quickness and 2nd-jump leaping ability.
Kameron Woods - Woods is having a career year and it continued against Manchester. The junior forward had 11 points and is now averaging 10.3 points to go along 8.9 rebounds per game, which ranks 2nd in the Big East. He is also being active defensively blocking 1.3 shots per game.
A.J. Hammons - Coming off of the bench, Hammons is averaging 8 points and 6.7 rebounds per game. At 7-foot, 251 pounds Hammons is a load to handle in the paint and alters shots well defensively (4.0 bpg). One of the most talented big men in the country, Hammons sometimes lacks motivation. If he's motivated against Butler, he may be tough to stop.
Basil Smotherman - The freshman wing from Indianapolis has been a do-it-all kind of player for Painter and the Boilermakers. He currently averages just 5.7 points and 3.7 rebounds, but is shooting 50% from three point range. The Boilermakers may look to Smotherman to defend Kellen Dunham if Terone Johnson guards someone else.
Terone Johnson - The leading scorer for the Boilermakers at 12.8 points per game, the senior guard has scored in double figures in 4 of the 5 games for Purdue. He is a talented guard that can score by attacking the basket or from three point range. An Achilles-heel for Johnson is his free throw shooting, where he is just 26/47 (55.3%) on the year.
Keys to the Game
Controlling the Paint
With the size of Hammons and driving ability of the guards, Butler will need to lock down the paint and not allow the Boilermaker guards to penetrate. A penetration would lead to either a basket, interior pass to a big man, and kick out three. On the other end, Butler has played well in the paint all season. Butler will need to get to the offensive glass and utilize Marshall and Woods.
Free Throw Shooting
The Purdue/Butler contests recently have been tight affairs. Therefore free throw shooting will be very important for both teams. The Bulldogs are riding a hot streak from the free throw line. Butler is shooting 67% from the line this year, while Purdue is shooting 64.8%. Look for Kellen Dunham to get the ball in crunch time when free throws are needed. The sophomore has connected on 20 of his last 22.
With the importance of free throw shooting and each possession down the stretch, Butler will need to continue to hold on to the ball effectively. The Bulldogs are averaging just 9 turnovers per game, while forcing their opponents to nearly 13 per game. Purdue is averaging 11.5 per game. Alex Barlow has done a nice job at point guard for Butler. He has been active defensively causing turnovers and locking down perimeter scorers and should be matched up against either Ronnie Johnson or Terone Johnson.
6 - Consecutive games Butler has won at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
8-2 - Butler's all-time record at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
37-17 - All time record for Purdue against Butler.
18.8 - Khyle Marshall has averaged this in points over the last 6 games.
47.5 - Kellen Dunham's 3-point percentage, ranking 5th in the Big East
12 - Three point makes for Butler against Manchester, a season-high