Purdue is coming off a 53-51 win over #19 Wisconsin on Jan. 14 in Mackey Arena and a 58-54 win at #19 Illinois on Jan 10. Purdue won consecutive games over top-25 opponents for the first time since the 1996-97 season. Minnesota (8-7, 0-3) is coming off a 73-62 loss at Ohio State on Saturday. The Gophers shot 39 percent from the field and scored just six points in the final nine minutes of the first half.
With losses to Iowa and Ohio State, the Gophers are off to their worst start since the 1998 team went 7-10 overall and lost its first six Big Ten games. They have lost five of their last seven contests. Minnesota won the only meeting between the two teams last season in Minneapolis.
Purdue is the only team this season to beat current #1 Duke, defeating the Blue Devils in the final of the Great Alaska Shootout.
The Boilermakers have been battle-tested. Their first three losses were by a total of five points. The Boilermakers fell at Oklahoma by two on Dec. 11, at home to SMU by one on Dec. 21 and at Colorado State by two on Dec. 30.
The Boilermakers are a balanced team with five players who are averaging 8.0 points a game or more. Purdue is averaging 68.4 points per game as a team, yet have just two double figure scorers. They have nine players who play at least 17 minutes per game.
The Boilermakers have had five different players score over 20 points in a game this season. Purdue has had six different individuals lead the team in scoring in games this season.
The Boilermakers have plenty of experience as they return four starters, six seniors and twelve letterman. They had to replace Willie Deane, who led the conference in scoring as a junior and was third last season. His scoring has been missed, but the Boilermakers have plenty of bodies in the backcourt. Kenneth Lowe, who missed the 2001-02 season after undergoing shoulder surgery, was the team's other double figure scorer last season. He was the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year last season. Lowe is leading the team with 13.8 points per game.
Sophomore David Teague has picked up right where he left off last season. As a freshman, Teague set the Purdue three-point field goals record with 35. Teague is averaging 10.1 points per game, second-best on the team. He is also averaging 4.4 rebounds, third-best on the team.. Teague has started all 16 contests. He scored a career-high 19 points in Purdue's win over then #2 Duke in the championship game of the Great Alaska Shootout.
Teague is joined in the frontcourt by sophomore Matt Kiefer, who has averaged 9.7 points per game over the last ten contests. Kiefer has scored in double figures in four of his last eight games. On the season, Kiefer is averaging 7.8 points and 3.8 boards per game. He is fifth on the team in scoring and fourth in rebounding.
Junior Brandon McKnight has led the team in scoring in the last five games, averaging 13.4 points per game. He has shot 50.0% from the floor and 38.5% from behind the arc. McKnight is averaging 8.5 points per game and is fourth on the team in scoring. He is second on the team with 48 assists in 16 games.
Senior center Ivan Kartleo leads the team in rebounding, averaging 6.1 caroms per outing. He has led the team in boards in eight of 16 games this season.
The Boilermakers have a strong bench. Sophomore Melvin Buckley has averaged 19.0 minutes per game coming off the bench and scored 6.1 points per outing. Senior point guard Austin Parkinson leads the team with 52 assists through 16 games. He was recently named the team's co-captain along with Lowe
PROBABLE PURDUE LINEUP: Center Ivan Kartleo, forward David Teague, forward Matt Kiefer, guard Brandon McKnight guard Kenneth Lowe,