Boilers face second road test of season
By Michael Osipoff 713-2485 or email@example.com January 4, 2014 4:20PM
Updated: February 6, 2014 6:46AM
In its only road game so far this season, Purdue secured an important win at West Virginia.
Next up, the Boilermakers (10-4, 0-1) make their Big Ten road debut, facing Minnesota (11-3, 0-1) on Sunday at Williams Arena. After their competitive loss to No. 3 Ohio State — a loss nonetheless — on Tuesday at Mackey Arena, highlighted by the play of A.J. Hammons, they will try to avoid an 0-2 conference start as they travel to The Barn.
“It is very difficult to win on the road in this league, it’s very difficult to win in Williams Arena,” said Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose team has won three of its last four games in Minneapolis. “We’re coming off a loss, Minnesota’s coming off a loss (63-60 to Michigan on Thursday), so it’s going to be a tough game in a tough venue.”
The Gophers’ guards — including Andre Hollins, who averages a team-high 15.9 points per game — should particularly challenge the Boilermakers. Austin Hollins has added 12.6 points and 6.9 rebounds, and 5-foot-9 point guard DeAndre Mathieu — a junior college transfer who began his career at Morehead State — has made an impact with 11.4 points, 4.7 assists and 2.0 steals.
Improved big man Elliott Eliason has pulled down 8.4 rebounds, and Painter said the Boilermakers have to be prepared for the Gophers, under first-year coach Richard Pitino, to play multiple defenses.
“They’re good at hawking the ball,” he said.
Games such as this one against Minnesota could be pivotal for Purdue’s hopes to return to the NCAA Tournament.
“Minnesota’s a good team, I think they’ll be playing in the tournament,” sophomore swingman Rapheal Davis said. “So to make it to the tournament, you have to beat teams that are going to make it to the tournament.”
Around the rim: The Boilermakers were hoping to have senior center Travis Carroll (knee) available for the game, after he missed Tuesday’s game against Ohio State. … Senior guard Terone Johnson, Carroll and graduate transfer Errick Peck are the only Purdue players who have participated in a game at Williams Arena. As a sophomore at Cornell during the 2010-11 season, Peck had 16 points, six rebounds and five assists. … With the teams having played only once in each of the last two seasons, the Boilermakers have won three straight games in the series against the Gophers, including 89-73 last season at Mackey, and eight of the last 10 meetings.