Wednesday, Nov. 28, 2018 • 9:20 p.m. ET | Tucker Civic Center (Tallahassee, Fla.) | TV: ESPN2 | Radio: Purdue Radio Network
ABOUT THIS GAME
• The meeting with FSU opens what could be a season-defining stretch for Purdue, with four straight games against top-25 teams, five straight against top-25-caliber teams, with only one of those games to be played in Mackey Arena.
Needless to say, the Boilermakers will want to start making their NCAA Tournament case now.
• Florida State is coming off the Advocare Invitational, where it fell 66-60 to Villanova in the finale after surving in overtime vs. LSU prior. In its other high-major game this season, FSU blasted intrastate rival Florida 81-60 in Tallahassee.
• Under Leonard Hamilton, the Seminoles have become known as a strong defensive program, and this season has been more of the season. It’s early, but Florida State is 15th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, and only one of its six opponents to this point, LSU, has cracked the 70-point mark, and it took OT to do it.
• Like Virginia Tech, Florida State will run four guard-types out there around a gigantic big man. Leading scorer Terrance Mann is more of a forward, but his guard skills make the ‘Noles versatile and interchangeable on offense, with the ability to spread opponents out around big man Christ Koumadje, one of the few bigs at the college level — or any level — who can look down at 7-3 Purdue big man Matt Haarms. Koumadje averages 7.5 points and 5.7 rebounds in limited minutes, so he’s productive too.
• Purdue is 9-4 in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge under Matt Painter, and winner of eight of its last nine
Purdue last played Florida State in the Challenge in 2005, in Matt Painter’s fifth game as head coach. It didn’t go so well. The Seminoles won 97-57 in Tallahassee.
#19 PURDUE BOILERMAKERS (5-1)
32 C – Matt Haarms (7-3, 250, So.)
In the one comparable to this point, Haarms was a non-factor against Virginia Tech. Whether that was simply Evan Boudreaux playing so well or Tech’s physicality and athleticism affecting him, we don’t know. But suffice to say, for Purdue to beat high-quality teams, it needs its center involved at both ends. This will be the rare occasion where Haarms is the smaller of the two big men on the floor, because FSU center Koumadje is a skyscraper, which will make for quite the physical test for Haarms, who’s a very different body type.
24 F Grady Eifert (6-6, 220, Sr.)
Florida State essentially plays four guards much of the time, Terrance Mann’s versatility making that so. That could put Eifert in some tough spots defensively, He’s been sucker-punching opponents this season with his three-point shooting and think of what a difference that could make for Purdue if he cashes in on some opportunities against this stout defensive team.
14 G/F Ryan Cline (6-6, 195, Sr.)
Cline’s enjoying an excellent year, and this game will be an interesting tell on just how good he can be this season, maybe. FSU may be one of the toughest defensive matchups Purdue sees all season, putting its offensive execution to the test to get Cline clean looks. He will also really have to guard against this athletic and guard-driven Seminole team, especially if he matches up against Terrance Mann.
20 G Nojel Eastern (6-6, 220, So.)
Florida State is really physical on defense. Eastern is one of the players on Purdue’s team that will always have a physical advantage. Can he beat FSU at its own game? Also, Eastern looms large in the sense that Purdue is going to have to make good decisions on offense and really grind things out on defense. He’s one of Purdue’s most influential players on both fronts.
3 G Carsen Edwards (6-1, 200, Jr.)
The best player on the floor, this stretch of season is key for Edwards, a chance to help Purdue earn high-level victories, show himself as a player who can lead a team to such wins and down the line, enhance his pro prospects. That’s not his focus now, obviously. Winning is. For that to happen, productivity is important, but poise may be more so. That being said, good offense beats good defense. Florida State is good on defense, but there aren’t many players in college basketball better equipped to beat good defense than Purdue’s All-American. When good shots are hard to come by, it’s good to have a guy who can make hard shots.
12 F/C Evan Boudreaux (6-8, 220, Jr.)
Purdue’s best rebounder, one of its best scorers and a difference-making jolt of energy to this Boilermaker team, Boudreaux has been excellent this season. A matchup to watch: If he squares off with the 7-4, 260-something-pound Koumadje, can Boudreaux pull him away from the basket for a favorable matchup off the dribble?
1 F Aaron Wheeler (6-9, 200, R-Fr.)
One of the Purdue players who could switch uniforms in this one and fit right in with the athletic and interchangeable Seminoles, Wheeler is going to have to be ready to be tested physically, as he well knows. His rebounding has been a pleasant surprise for Purdue, and he’s another player who, if he can make some threes, that’s gravy, maybe game-changing gravy.
2 G Eric Hunter (6-3, 170, Fr.)
The freshman is going to have to give Purdue good minutes against a high-pressure opponent, in a difficult environment. Huge test for him, clearly.
55 G Sasha Stefanovic (6-4, 195, R-Fr.)
The redshirt freshman has done some really positive things and has been making shots. Florida State is really athletic, though, and players’ first road games are always challenges. But for Purdue to win, it’s going to have to make shots, most likely, and it’ll hope Stefanovic can be part of that, while also holding up his end of the deal on D.
#15 FLORIDA STATE SEMINOLES (5-1)
C – 21 Christ Koumadje (7-4, 268, Sr.)
The biggest physical presence Purdue will see all season, Koumadje is productive, too, averaging 17.3 points and 13.1 rebounds per 40 minutes. He can be foul prone, and Purdue will have a mobility advantage at the 5, but his physical presence is a formidable one.
G – 3 Trent Forrest (6-4, 210, Jr.)
G – 5 PJ Savoy (6-4, 210, Sr.)
Walker has made 42 percent of his threes on 26 attempts.
G – 14 Terrance Mann (6-7, 215, Sr.)
The 6-foot-7 swingman is Florida State’s top scorer at 12.8 per game, a 53-percent shooter who’s good off the dribble, athletic and also an effective three-point shooter on low volume. He’s essentially FSU’s 4.
G – 23 M.J. Walker (6-5, 213, So.)
Walker has made 48 percent of his threes on 25 attempts.
F – 25 Mfiondu Kabengele (6-10, 250, Jr.)
In only 18.7 minutes off the bench, Kabengele is Florida State’s second-leading scorer, at 11.8 points.
G – 13 Anthony Polite (6-6, 215, So.)
G – 11 David Nichols (6-1, 185, Sr.)
F – 1 Raiquan Gray (6-8, 260, So.)
PREDICTION: FLORIDA STATE 76, PURDUE 73
In what seems like a similar sort of matchup to Virginia Tech, Purdue obviously played a really good team to a near draw, but its poise in the second half, with the game on the line, fell short. This is a big opportunity for the Boilermakers to show that game made them better, but they have to show it before it can be expected.
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