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March 24, 2013

CBI: Santa Clara

D.J. Byrd from GoldandBlack.com on Vimeo.

Purdue's in the College Basketball Invitational for experience.

It might be a wash, though, if the Boilermakers don't advance far enough to get much of it.

That makes tonight's 7 p.m. CBI quarterfinal game in Mackey Arena against Santa Clara particularly important.

"You don't get the experience if you don't win," Coach Matt Painter. "It's over (if you don't). You want to continue to win so you can continue to play. When you look at the tournament as a whole and say, 'Hey, we have a chance to play five or six games,' now you're excited about it. But if someone would say you'd have a chance to only play two games, which is what you'd play if you lost, I don't know if you'd look at it that favorably."

The Boilermakers will have their hands full in a matchup far more daunting than its opening-round pairing with a Western Illinois team that played without its two most productive players.

Santa Clara is 22-11, a team that won at Saint Louis - albeit before the Billikens got hot - to start the season and played Gonzaga tough at home and Duke competitively in Cameron Indoor.

"The last team we didn't even watch film on," point guard Ronnie Johnson said of Western Illinois. "We just had to come out and play and do our best off our (scouting report) sheets."

It'll be much different against a senior-laden Bronco team that'll roll out four thousand-point scorers in its starting lineup, led by all-time leading scorer Kevin Foster, who'll hit the 2,300-point mark with just an average game against the Boilermakers.

Santa Clara will look to rain threes on Purdue, ranking among national leaders in making an average of eight triples per game. Its top five scorers all shoot 35 percent or better from long range.

"With us playing an experienced team that's been through a lot together, it's going to be very important for us to do our best to stick with them and keep the dribble in front of us," Painter said. "Kevin Foster is as good a guard as there is in the country in terms of simply putting the ball in the basket. It's a tough challenge for us. They put up a lot of points."

Projected Lineups
G: Terone Johnson
G: Ronnie Johnson
F: D.J. Byrd
F: Rapheal Davis
C: A.J. Hammons

Santa Clara
G: Evan Roquemore (6-3, 175, Jr.)
G: Kevin Foster (6-2, 225, Sr.)
G: Raymond Cowels III (6-4, 215, Sr.)
F: Marc Trasolini (6-9, 235, Sr.)
F: Yannick Atanga (6-8, 225, So.)

Foster averages 18.1 points per game. This season he passed Kurt Rambis to become Santa Clara's career scoring leader. The fifth-year senior sat out all but six games his sophomore season due to injury. … The Broncos are not a great rebounding team, barely out-doing opponents 34.7-34.2 this season. … Guard Brandon Clark, an East Chicago native, has made nearly half of his 54 three-point tries. … Point guard Roquemore was on the watch list for the Bob Cousy Award, for the nation's top point guard. He averages 11.1 points and 5.3 and boasts an assist-to-turnover ratio of nearly 2.5-to-1. … Trasolini, a fifth-year senior who redshirted as a junior due to an ACL injury, averages a team-best 7.7 boards and 15.7 points on 55-percent shooting. … Santa Clara beat Vermont at home 77-67 to open the CBI. … Opponents have averaged just under 70 points per game. Santa Clara has gone 22-11 despite outscoring foes on average by less than a full point.

About Purdue: Roster | Schedule | Statistics

About Santa Clara: Roster | Schedule | Statistics

Broadcast Info
Game time: 7 p.m. ET
Radio: Purdue Sports Network (95.7 FM locally)
TV: BTN.com
Internet: GoldandBlack.com subscribers can follow along live with our in-game blog, "Game Day Live."

Things to think about

1. Santa Clara will put shooters all over the floor. Can the Boilermakers cover all their bases?

2. Will the Boilermakers be able to assert itself in the post against an opponent it should be able to out-rebound? Santa Clara played Gonzaga twice and faced Duke, so it won't be shocked by Purdue's size around the basket.

3. Ronnie Johnson has been playing well of late, making better decisions and shooting at a higher clip, with fewer mistakes with the ball. Purdue will need him to keep it up if it's going to make a deep run in this tournament.

GoldandBlack.com Prediction: Shooting and experience are a dangerous mix and Santa Clara has both. Purdue will get all it can handle here, but we'll give it the benefit of the doubt on its home floor.

Purdue 77, Santa Clara 74

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