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Men’s basketball: Purdue faces another Big Ten bubble team

Purdue center A.J. Hammons (20) is checked by Michigan forward Mitch McGary (4) during second half an NCAA college basketball

Purdue center A.J. Hammons (20) is checked by Michigan forward Mitch McGary (4) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game in Ann Arbor, Mich., Thursday, Jan. 24, 2013. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

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Updated: January 26, 2013 7:31PM



Somewhere along the line, Purdue probably is going to have to win a game or two it’s not “supposed” to win in order to achieve any bigger-picture goals.

But in between their loss at Michigan and their upcoming game against Indiana, the Boilermakers play like-positioned Iowa on Sunday afternoon at Mackey Arena, another game they have to avoid losing.

“Games like this, with two teams that are battling to stay in it, who plays harder and who plays smarter — I know that’s a pretty profound statement — but I really think that’s going to be true,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.

The Boilermakers (10-9, 3-3 Big Ten) have won 10 of their last 11 games against the Hawkeyes (13-6, 2-4), including last season’s sweep. Purdue has won its last five home games in the series, last losing in West Lafayette on Feb. 1, 2006.

But Iowa seems to be developing under third-year coach Fran McCaffery.

The Hawkeyes’ conference losses have come to Indiana, Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State, with wins at Northwestern and against Wisconsin.

Junior swingman Roy Devyn Marble averages 14.5 points per game, and sophomore forward Aaron White 13.5 and 6.2 rebounds. Like the Boilermakers, the Hawkeyes have been starting three freshmen in guards Anthony Clemmons (5.0 points, 4.1 assists) and Mike Gesell (8.8 points), and 7-foot-1 center Adam Woodbury (5.6 points, 5.3 rebounds).

“(Former starter Melsahn) Basabe comes off the bench for them — that speaks volumes in terms of their talent,” Painter said of the junior forward who averages 7.0 points.

The Boilermakers will try to get their freshman big man, A.J. Hammons, back on track after a poor game against the Wolverines.

“It’s one of those things where it’s time to play a basketball game,” Painter said when asked about the possibility of Hammons having been ill. “I promise you there were people on Michigan’s team that were sick or were hurt or things were going on. You have to be mature enough to go out there and just play hard and lay it on the line.

“Just your approach, your daily approach. ... Be ready to practice every day, be ready to focus in the games. It’s just a habit. If you just try to turn that switch on on game day, that switch isn’t always going to go on for you. We have to get him to do a better job of just being ready to play and having a focus, and understanding what he has to do. You have to play hard. You have to sprint both ways.”

Freshman Rapheal Davis has continued to solidify his spot in the lineup. He had 10 points and a career-high eight rebounds at Michigan, averaging 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds in four straight starts.

“The guy who’s really stood out for me is Rapheal Davis,” Painter said. “Instead of dwelling on some guys that maybe aren’t ready to play or not playing hard enough, I’d rather talk about a guy like that who when things didn’t go his way, he didn’t pout. He just kept working, stayed positive and tried to do what he was supposed to do. Good things happen when you have those attributes. That’s what winning basketball’s all about.”



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