Purdue (8-2) vs. Butler (7-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, December 14, 6 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bankers Life Fieldhouse (18,165) -- Indianapolis, Indiana. Television: Big Ten Network. Home Record: Purdue 7-0, Butler 5-0. Away Record: Purdue 1-2, Butler 1-0. Neutral Record: Purdue 0-0, Butler 1-2. Conference Record: Purdue 0-0, Butler 0-0. Series Record: Purdue leads, 37-16.
GAME NOTES: Intrastate rivals are set to tangle in the Crossroad Classic on Saturday evening, as the Purdue Boilermakers take on the Butler Bulldogs at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.
Apart from suffering a pair of losses in the Old Spice Classic to Oklahoma State (97-87) and Washington State (69-54), Purdue has been outstanding this season with wins in all eight of its other matchups. The Boilermakers are currently riding a three-game win streak, most recently downing Eastern Michigan at home last Saturday, 69-64.
Butler's early record has nearly mirrored Purdue's, as it lost to Oklahoma State (69-67) and LSU (70-68 in OT) in the Old Spice Classic, but has otherwise been flawless en route to a 7-2 record. The Bulldogs enjoyed a brief two-game homestand last week with wins over North Dakota (79-64) and Manchester (100-41).
Purdue has a handle on the all-time series with Butler, 37-16, although the Bulldogs narrowly won the most recent meeting in December of 2011, 67-65.
The Boilermakers had to fight to the final buzzer against a feisty EMU squad last time out, but managed to hold on for the five-point win by outscoring their opponent from the free-throw line, 23-15, and by earning extra possessions with a 20-14 advantage in the turnover battle. Bryson Scott had an especially busy day at stripe (10-of-13) on his way to a team-best 16 points to go with five assists and three steals. Kendall Stephens netted 13 points but he did so on an inefficient afternoon from beyond the arc (3-of-11). On the season, Purdue has made a habit of causing havoc in the passing lanes with a +2.9 turnover margin, which only accentuates its solid offensive numbers (.456 FG percentage, 79.7 ppg). Terone Johnson is the top scoring threat with 12.8 ppg, while Ronnie Johnson (11.9 ppg) and Scott (10.4 ppg) are hot on his heels. No one else averages in double figures, but the deep bench consists of seven others who net at least 4.3 ppg.
The Bulldogs did what was expected of them in their 59-point thrashing of Manchester on Monday night, as they outshot their adversary from the field, 63.3 percent to 26.4 percent, and drained 12 3-pointers in the rout. Twelve players scored in the triple-digit effort, paced by 15 points from Kellen Dunham. Khyle Marshall added 14 points, Rene Castro chipped in a dozen off the bench, and Kameron Woods added 11 points on a perfect night from the field (5- of-5). The big night certainly improved Butler's numbers at the offensive end of the court, as it makes greater than 46 percent of its field goal attempts for 77.0 ppg, but the biggest reason for its fast start has been the way the team has played defense (63.7 ppg). Dunham has taken over as the go-to guy this season, pouring in 18.7 ppg on a lofty 47.5 percent accuracy from beyond the arc. Marshall (17.0 ppg, 6.6 rpg) has also played well, and Woods (10.3 ppg, 8.9 rpg) brings added production to the paint.
With a pair of similarly-matched teams going toe-to-toe, expect a close contest throughout. The edge goes to the defensive-minded Bulldogs.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Butler 70, Purdue 67
12/14 10:41:23 ET