GAME NOTES: The Clemson Tigers are set to return home to Littlejohn Coliseum on Wednesday to host the Purdue Boilermakers for this season's edition of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.
Purdue will be looking to get back to .500 as its 66-40 win over UNC Wilmington on Nov. 21 brought its record up to 2-3. The Boilermakers began the post Robbie Hummel era with a five-point loss to the Patriot League's Bucknell Bison at home. They rebounded with a 29-point rout of Hofstra, but lost to Villanova (89-81 OT) and Oregon State (66-58) in their two games that were part of the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden. Coach Matt Painter, who has led the team to wins in its last two ACC/Big Ten Challenge games, now aims for the first winning streak of the season. Purdue's biggest strength is its rebounding ability, as it comes in with a +9.8 average margin on the boards.
Coach Brad Brownell's team has had a much more pleasant beginning to the season. Clemson improved to 4-1 on Sunday with a 59-44 decision over Marist in the Old Spice Classic in Lake Buena Vista, Florida. It began the event with an eight-point loss to a nationally-ranked Gonzaga team, but the Bulldogs finished with a season-low of 57 points in the contest. The Tigers recovered with a 21-point triumph over Texas-El Paso. They also coasted to easy wins over Presbyterian and Furman prior to the event. As exhibited in their loss to Gonzaga, Clemson is a very feisty team on the defensive end. They are ranked fifth in the nation in scoring defense with a low allowed average of 49.6 ppg.
This will be the fifth meeting between these schools on the hardwood. Clemson owns a 3-1 edge in the all-time series after its 61-58 victory the last time it faced Purdue, which was during the 2007-08 season.
The Boilermakers appeared to be back on track their last time out with a decent performance on the offensive end of the court and a stifling performance on the defensive side versus UNCW. Purdue shot 42.9 percent from the field, but added 20 supplemental points at the charity stripe. It also held UNCW to just 32.6 percent shooting in secure the 26-point decision. Painter's squad also held a decisive 40-24 edge in the rebounding battle in the contest. Guard Terone Johnson led the way with 19 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field, including makes on all three of his attempts from distance. Johnson is averaging a team-high 11 ppg while D.J. Byrd closely trails with 10.8 ppg. The starting five has resembled a game of musical chairs with not one player appearing in all five contests. However, Purdue has plenty of depth with 10 players averaging at least 10 minutes per bout.
Clemson has held each of its first five opponents under 60 points, a feat the program had not accomplished since the 1997-98 season. Their last time out, the Tigers were able to tame the Red Foxes by holding them to 34 percent field goal shooting. They also held a decisive 40-26 advantage in the rebounding battle and scored 10 points in the second half off of turnovers. Devin Booker led the charge by notching a double-double with 15 points and 11 boards. Freshman guard Adonis Filler appears to be grasping the collegiate game early on in his career after scoring in double figures in all three tournament games. Milton Jennings is leading the team with 10.8 ppg while K.J. Daniels and Booker are tied for second with 10.4 ppg each. Clemson does not attempt many 3-pointers (14.2 per contest), but it has made 40.8 percent of its shots from long range.
Both these teams are very good at securing rebounds and shutting down the opposition. However, Purdue has been unable to produce on the offensive end with as much efficiency. If Filler continues to fill it up, the Tigers are going to be very tough for anyone to beat, especially on their home floor.