After collecting eight wins in their last nine games, the Purdue Boilermakers (22-5, 11-3 Big Ten) boast the best ranking in both polls among Big Ten programs. Coach Matt Painter’s group heads to State College, PA in hopes of strengthening its resume with a win over the Penn State Nittany Lions on Tuesday.
For Penn State (14-13, 6-8), coach Pat Chambers’ unit has shown some resiliency of late, racking up two victories in its last three contests. One of those came against No. 24 Maryland on Feb. 7, as guards Melo Trimble and Justin Jackson, the Terrapins top two scorers, were held to 8-of-24 shooting. However, in a 16-point loss to Nebraska on Feb. 14, Penn State failed to slow down the Cornhuskers’ offensive attack, allowing them to notch a 55.4 percent clip overall.
Things won’t get any easier Purdue, though. Over the last two matchups (vs. Rutgers, Michigan State), the Boilermakers weaved together a stout 49 percent clip from the field. As a result, they won each game by at least 17 points. If the conference tournament began today, the unit would own the No. 1 overall seed because of its win over Wisconsin (22-5, 11-3) on Jan. 8. Considering the Boilermakers won’t see the Badgers for the remainder of the regular season, they control their own fate in order to officially claim that top spot.
Purdue basketball vs. Penn State game time, details
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 20
Time: 6 p.m. ET
Location: Bryce Jordan Center, University Park, PA
Betting odds: Purdue is a 7.5-point favorite.
What TV channel broadcasts Purdue basketball vs. Penn State?
The game will be broadcasted on the Big Ten Network.
How can I watch Purdue basketball vs. Penn State online?
BTN will live-stream the game at BTN2Go.com, as well as on the BTN2Go app.
How can I listen to Purdue basketball vs. Penn State on the radio?
The Purdue call of the game will be on the Purdue Sports Network. A list of affiliates can be found here, and the action can be heard online here. Penn State affiliates are listed here, and the Nittany Lions’ call can be streamed here.
Keys to the game: Penn State vs. Purdue
Slowing down Caleb Swanigan
Clearly, Swanigan has carried the Boilermakers throughout the campaign. While opponents have attempted to send a double-team his way, the 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward has carved consistently carved up the competition nonetheless, racking up double-doubles in 17 of his last 18 games. In their most recent contest against the Spartans, he notched 25 points and 14 rebounds, as well as shooting 7-of-12 from the field. Chambers could look to minimize his damage by throwing the 6-9, 246-pound Mike Watkins at him, along with the 6-10, 235-pound Julian Moore. But Swanigan’s ability to score from the block and the perimeter will continue to make the sophomore a tough cover, regardless of who’s defending him.
Lamar Stevens’ consistency
In three of his last five games, the forward has produced at least 21 points, including his 25-point, 7-rebound performance in the aforementioned win over Maryland. However, in the previous five matchups, Stevens only averaged 5.2 points per contest while shooting 21 percent over that span. Hence, Penn State needs the 6-7, 218-pounder to continue his recently strong play. As a freshman season, Stevens has also exhibited his prowess in transition. However, considering Purdue ranks No. 20 in the nation in offensive efficiency (1.12 points per possession), he might be forced to score primarily out of halfcourt sets.
Lamar Stevens’ fastbreak layup vs. Illinois
— PSUHoops (@psuhoops) February 12, 2017
Controlling the glass
Over the course of the campaign, Purdue has enforced itself as one of the best rebounding units in college basketball. Moreover, it ranks seventh in the country in rebounding rate (56 percent), which gauges the team’s ability to rebound off a missed field goal or free-throw. On the flip side, Penn State sits at No. 277 in that category (47.8 percent). With the likes of the aforementioned Swanigan and 7-foot-2, 290-pound Isaac Haas, the Boilermakers have the obvious size advantage on paper. In order for the Nittany Lions to combat that, they must find a way to put one of the two in foul trouble.