Now that the back half of Purdue's Big Ten schedule has arrived, it faces a repeat opponent for the first time this season when it meets Penn State at 7 p.m. tonight in State College.
Purdue beat the Nittany Lions 60-42 in Mackey Arena Jan. 13.
"Sometimes it can help you and sometimes it can hurt you," Coach Matt Painter said of playing opponents that have already been faced. "You're more familiar, but so are they. You're really in the same boat, but you try your best to get your guys to understand some of the breakdowns you had in your first game and why you had them. But also, don't neglect things you did well ... and don't take those things for granted."
For Purdue's young players, it's another first in a season in which everything's been new.
"It might be kind of hard," said center A.J. Hammons, the Big Ten's reigning Freshman-of-the-Week. "We're going to know what to try to take away but they're going to know what to try to take away. We just have to make sure we do what Coach says, then execute and rebound."
Swooning defensively of late, the Boilermakers will strive to repeat their performance of a few weeks ago against Lion guards D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall.
In the absence of injured star Tim Frazier, the duo is combining to score roughly 30 points per game.
But at Purdue, they combined for just 17 on 6-of-25 shooting, with seven turnovers between them.
"I thought we did a good job keeping them out of the lane and made them shoot more pull-ups than they were able to get lay-ups in the lane," guard Terone Johnson said.
When those shots were missed, Purdue used their significant size advantage to outrebound Penn State 42-33.
"We have to keep making them shoot tough shots, low-percentage shots and keep them off the glass," senior D.J. Byrd said. "They do a good job crashing the glass and getting offensive rebounds. It'll be key for us to make them shoot tough shots and for us to rebound the ball."
That game wasn't all that long ago, but Purdue seems to be in a much different place than it was then.
While Penn State is still looking for its first Big Ten win, the Boilermakers just badly need a win right now, having lost its past two games in one-sided fashion.
The last meeting with the Nittany Lions started a stretch in which Purdue won four of five games.
Now, the Boilermakers are coming off a 37-point home loss to now-top-ranked Indiana and an almost equally non-competitive 15-point loss at Northwestern.
Between the two games, Purdue's allowed 100 first-half points. Three of the five highest-scoring halves posted against the Boilermakers this season have occurred in the past two games.
"We're not playing Purdue basketball and with a young team like that, that's definitely something we've got to do and play hard every possession, play as a team," Terone Johnson said. "We're not following simple scouting report things. It's led to some losses.
"It's kind of surprising (it's happening), because we've been through a lot of games in the Big Ten now and at this point of the season we should be used to the scouting reports and the things coaches want."
Purdue will look to stop the bleeding in a building where things have not come easy for the Boilermakers, who lost by 20 in their last trip to the Bryce Jordan Center.
F: D.J. Byrd
C: A.J. Hammons
G: D.J. Newbill (6-4, 205, So.)
G: Jermaine Marshall (6-4, 205, Jr.)
G: Nick Colella (6-3 195, Sr.)
F: Brandon Taylor (6-7, 235, Fr.)
F: Sasa Borovnjak (6-9, 240, Sr.)
Penn State's second to last in the Big Ten in scoring in conference games, averaging 55.7 points through its nine league losses and second to last in scoring defense, allowing 69.6. ... Its nine losses have come by an average of just under 14 points per game. .... Newbill leads active Nittany Lions at 15.7 points per game, with Marshall close behind at 15.0. ... Ross Travis remains Penn State's leading rebounder at 6.8, but has been struggling and is no longer starting. ... Penn State shoots just 27.7 percent as a team from three-point range. ... It's a long way off, but the Lions are trying to avoid becoming the Big Ten's first winless teams (in conference play) since Northwestern was 0-16 in 2000.
Game time: 7 p.m.
Radio: Purdue Sports Network (95.7 FM locally)
Internet: GoldandBlack.com subscribers can follow along live with our in-game blog, "Game Day Live."
Things to think about
1. How does Purdue respond? Handling adversity has been a challenge at times for the Boilermakers this season and adversity has never struck harder than it has lately.
2. Who's going to play? If there was ever a time for Painter to make a statement with playing time, this would seem to be it. The timing of Dru Anthrop's broken hand couldn't be worse, as this game had "symbolic start" written all over it for the senior as the other guards struggle.
3. Can Purdue's guards get their act together? Terone Johnson is healthy now after a bout with illness. That should help. Ronnie Johnson, though, has hit a rough patch and Anthony Johnson's been up and down.
When those guys have the ball in their hands, they have to do a better job of making the people around them better, taking acceptable shots and making prudent decisions.
4. Purdue's defense has been poor lately, but last time these teams played, the Boilermakers did a fine job holding down Newbill and Marshall. To do it again, Purdue will need great games from the very guards who aren't playing terribly well right now.
4. Hammons went for 10 rebounds and five blocks against Penn State last time out, as the Nittany Lions don't have the size to match up with him. Purdue needs to twist that knife as much as possible.
GoldandBlack.com Prediction: Things are never as good as they seem, never as bad as they seem, right? Right? Because things seem pretty bad right now for Purdue. This is an opportunity for things to get better. But also a chance for them to get even worse.
Purdue 63, Penn State 59
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