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Game 22: Purdue Preview

The Nittany Lions take on the struggling Boilermakers in what is perhaps their best remaining chance at earning that elusive Big Ten win.

Who: Purdue Boilermakers (11-11, 4-5)
When: Tuesday, 7:00pm
Where: Bryce Jordan Center

Each team comes into Tuesday's matchup searching for answers after some poor performances over the past week. Matt Painter's crew was on the wrong end of a #BEATEMDOWN incident against Indiana and followed up that 37-point home loss with a 15-point defeat at Northwestern. Purdue may have a better idea of where to find those answers though, especially against Penn State. The Boilermakers locked all windows and doors against the Lions in the reverse fixture three weeks ago, holding PSU to a season-low 42 points.

Center A.J. Hammons is starting to look like the real deal in West Lafayette. Despite the ugliness of Purdue's latest losses, the freshman from Oak Hill has been a real bright spot. Hammons posted 30 points and five blocks against Indiana and followed that up with 19 and 13 rebounds at Welsh-Ryan. Penn State has done surprisingly well against some elite big men this season, limiting the effectiveness of players like Cody Zeller (2 points and no field goals at Assembly Hall) and Bucknell's Mike Muscala (10 points on two made field goals).

But when the Lions do stifle one player, another usually emerges. Adreian Payne, Shavon Shields and Aaron White have all posted career-highs against Penn State in recent weeks, and Purdue does feature players that are capable of lighting it up. D.J. Byrd is regarded as one of the top three-point specialists in the conference, and brothers Terone (team-high 12.7 ppg) and Ronnie Johnson (9.3 ppg as a freshman) can do some damage on the perimeter as well.

Simply put, Penn State will have to do better than the 0.66 points per possession figure they posted the last time these teams met. It would help their chances if someone other than D.J. Newbill and Jermaine Marshall stepped up to shoulder some of the scoring load. The pair have carried a sluggish-at-best offense for the better part of the conference slate--in fact, no other Nittany Lion has scored in double figures over the last five games. Brandon Taylor's 11 points against Purdue on January 13th marks the last time that has occurred.

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