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December 6, 2013

Breakdown: Eastern Michigan

Purdue may feel like it owes Eastern Michigan one after last season's 47-44 loss to the Eagles in Ypsilanti.

It gets its chance at 2 p.m. Saturday in Mackey Arena.

"Last I think that we may have underestimated them," Purdue guard Terone Johnson said. "But they had a good team and they have a good team (again) and that's something we need to go into the game thinking about. … It is a sense of revenge if you ask me."

About Purdue:: Roster | Schedule/Results | Stats
Projected starters (last game): C - Jay Simpson; F - Kendall Stephens; F- Basil Smotherman; G - Ronnie Johnson; G - Terone Johnson

About Eastern Michigan:: Roster | Schedule/Results | Stats

Broadcast info:: Radio: Purdue Sports Network | TV: ESPN3 | LIVE: Join GoldandBlack.com tonight for our 30-minute pre-game 'Game Day Live' chat session, then our Twitter account, @GoldandBlackcom, for in-game updates.

Game Breakdown
Purdue shot just 30 percent, turned the ball over 18 times and managed just 44 points in last season's 47-44 loss in Ypsilanti, a setback that still unsettles those who were part of it.

The Boilermakers lost despite outrebounding Eastern Michigan by 23 and not allowing any one Eagle to score more than eight points.

Eastern Michigan will again run the zone defense that gave Purdue so many problems last season, the one Coach Rob Murphy brought with from Syracuse, where he was Jim Boeheim's assistant before landing the EMU job.

"They were keeping the ball out of the paint," point guard Ronnie Johnson said, "and they were causing us to commit a lot of turnovers and forcing us to shoot a lot of long jump shots when at the time we weren't a good outside shooting team."

Purdue feels it's better equipped now to compete against such looks, with more experience, better shooters and a more refined interior scoring game.

"We're a better outside-shooting team now and I think that'll help us a lot," Ronnie Johnson said. "With turnovers, we'll be able to limit those. We just have to get the best shots we can."

Coach Matt Painter will want the ball going inside, but says that's the case against any opponent.

"We have to get the ball to the middle of the paint," Ronnie Johnson said, "and cause the defenders to collapse and we can find other people."

Eastern Michigan has some height and length that might be problematic on the interior, including Da'Shonte Riley, who averages better than four blocks per game.

Purdue's coming off a game against Boston College in which A.J. Hammons didn't turn the ball over while handing out three assists. Simpson and forward Errick Peck also have the potential to be effective against zones with the ball in the middle of the floor.

When it must shoot over the zone, Stephens is shooting better than 42 percent from three while Sterling Carter's shot showed some signs of coming around in the second half against B.C.

Eastern Michigan (5-2) shouldn't be fazed by playing a high-major opponent, especially not one it beat last season.

Its last two games have come not against major-conference foes, but ranked ones, an 83-61 loss at Kentucky and a 69-57 home loss to Massachusetts, the latter being a game Eastern led by four at halftime.

How's this for a non-conference schedule? By the end of the weekend, Rob Murphy's team will have played Kentucky, UMass and Purdue. Dec. 28, it plays at Duke; three days later, it'll play at Syracuse.

Painter's been struck, he said, by Eastern Michigan's high three-point percentage (37.9) relative to its modest number of attempts (13.6 per game).

"That's a lost art," Painter said.

Leading scorer Karrington Ward averages 15.3 points per game. He's 9-of-20 from three-point range.

Eastern Michigan has four players shooting 42 percent or better from distance, none of them having taken more Raven Lee's 22 attempts. He's made 10-of-22.

Of note: Eastern Michigan's getting handled on the boards thus far this season, on average by a four-board margin, but you can largely blame Kentucky for that after it outrebounded Eastern 56-40. Cleveland State outrebounded it 56-35.

Prediction: Last season's loss at Eastern Michigan was one of the most forgettable moments in a season full of them, but this Purdue team is better equipped - both from personnel and seasoning perspectives - to handle the matchup and might have a little bit of momentum on its side, though such things can be fleeting. Purdue has to be patient on offense. Purdue 73, Eastern Michigan 64

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