Northwestern-Purdue Preview

A second-half collapse may have ended Purdue's slim chance at a Big Ten title, but a return to Mackey Arena should be just what they need to bounce back.

The No. 17 Boilermakers look to extend their home dominance Tuesday night and send Northwestern to a fifth straight road loss.

Purdue (20-6, 8-5) was impressive while beating No. 8 Michigan State 82-81 in overtime last Tuesday, but followed that win by surrendering the final 11 points in a 61-56 loss at Michigan on Saturday. The Boilermakers missed all six of their shots in the final 2:13 to fall three games back of first-place Iowa with five to play.

“We missed some shots, they missed some shots, but then they just finally hit them when it counted,” said forward Caleb Swanigan, who had 14 points. “We felt like we could have put it away a little bit earlier, but we weren't playing as hard as we should have been.”

Purdue hasn't had that problem at home, winning 20 of 21 and five straight while averaging 81.4 points on 48.3 percent shooting, including 42.9 from beyond the arc.

The Boilermakers, however, fell 74-65 to Northwestern in the most recent matchup in West Lafayette on March 9, 2014.

The Wildcats (17-9, 5-8), though, have lost 13 straight against ranked opponents, including eight on the road.

“It's going to be a tough environment. They have a great home court. Very physical team,” coach Chris Collins said. “We have to come out and play to our strengths and hopefully not allow their crowd to get going so it leads to big spurts, and the game gets away from you.

“It's going to be important for our guys to be ready to go from the start.”

Northwestern has followed a five-game slide by winning two of three after a 58-56 home victory over Illinois on Saturday – its lowest scoring output in a win this season.

“You just try to stay engaged, stick to the game plan and make plays defensively (when you're not scoring),” guard Tre Demps said. “You know the scouting report, follow the scouting report and try not to worry about it.”

Purdue's scouting report starts with 7-foot center A.J. Hammons, who leads the team with an average of 14.5 points and ranks second in the Big Ten with 2.7 blocks and third with 8.0 rebounds.

Hammons has put up 19.4 points, 8.8 boards and 4.0 blocks per game over his past five at home – a big reason why Purdue has averaged 31.6 points in the paint in that stretch. He scored 16 and pulled down nine rebounds in a 68-60 win at Northwestern on Jan. 31, 2015.

“They're a power team. They're an inside-out team. You don't see that as much any more,” Collins said. “If those guys are allowed to catch the ball with two feet in the paint, they're going to foul a bunch of guys out and we're going to be in trouble.”

Northwestern should also be wary of guard Rapheal Davis, who had 15 points and seven boards in the last matchup. However, he's coming off one of his worst efforts of the season, scoring four points on 1-for-5 shooting Saturday after matching his career high with 24 against the Spartans.

Demps is averaging 21.3 points over the last four games after scoring 18 on Saturday. He had that many in the last meeting with Purdue, and he's averaging 15.7 while sinking 8 of 20 from 3-point range over the past three.