Howard (1-0) at (14) Purdue (0-0)
Sunday, November 14th, 5:00 p.m. (et)
The Sports Network
By Pat Taggart, Associate College Basketball Editor
FACTS & STATS: Site: Mackey Arena (14,123) -- West Lafayette, Indiana. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Howard 1-0, Purdue 0-0. Away Record: Howard 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Neutral Record: Howard 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Conference Record: Howard 0-0, Purdue 0-0. Series Record: First-ever meeting.
GAME NOTES: The 14th-ranked Purdue Boilermakers open the 2010-11 season against the Howard Bison today in West Lafayette.
Howard, a MEAC member, began its season on Friday against Bowling Green, and that game resulted in a thrilling 52-50 victory. The Bison tallied just seven wins a year ago, so it is safe to assume that coach Kevin Nickelberry will have his hands full in his first season at Howard. However, the cupboard is not exactly bare, as the team does return its top scorer from last season.
It was widely believed that the Boilermakers would be the favorites to win the Big Ten this year and potentially make a serious run at their first Final Four since 1980, as they returned three of the top seniors in the country. Unfortunately, the team's best all-around player, Robbie Hummel, tore his ACL in the offseason and will miss this campaign. As a result, head coach Matt Painter's squad has plenty to prove, so many folks are interested to check out the chemistry of the squad in this opener.
This game marks the first-ever meeting between Purdue and Howard on the hardwood.
Calvin Thompson averaged 12.0 ppg last season to pace Howard, but the new coach would like to see his top performer become more of a selective shooter and connect on better than the 37 percent he did a year ago. In the season opener against Bowling Green two days ago, Thompson and Mike Phillips both tallied 11 points, while Kyle Riley and Darian Collins pitched in 10 points apiece. The Bison shot just 39.1 percent from the floor in that clash, including 4-of-18 from three-point range, and their 14-of-34 effort from the foul line was downright horrendous. Fortunately for Howard, it was able to play extremely well at the defensive end of the court, limiting the Falcons to 34.6 percent shooting from the field.
E'Twaun Moore (16.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 2.7 apg) and JaJuan Johnson (15.5 ppg, 7.1 rpg) are two of the top players in the Big Ten Conference and are capable of keeping Purdue at an elite level despite the loss of Hummel. Moore, who has led the Boilermakers in scoring in each of his first three seasons, has a chance to be a 20 ppg scorer this season. Expect to see plenty of freshman guard Terone Johnson, who has a high ceiling due to his tremendous physicality and off-the-chart offensive skills. Johnson has looked tremendous in exhibition play and seems to have the will and courage of a veteran. With Hummel missing from the frontcourt, it will be the job of Johnson to secure most loose balls and handle the bulk of the inside scoring, but additional offensive punch could also come from sophomore Patrick Bade as well as freshman Travis Carroll. Purdue's strength will be its defensive play, so Howard will have its hands full tonight.
Even without Hummel, Purdue will be far too much for Howard to handle. The Boilermakers should have this one in hand by intermission.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Purdue 84, Howard 54
11/14 10:32:59 ET