Howard-Purdue Preview

Purdue is insisting it won't overlook anyone in what looks like an easy portion of its schedule.

The defensive-minded and 11th-ranked Boilermakers could face a challenge in containing the nation's leading scorer, James Daniel III, when Howard arrives at Mackey Arena on Wednesday night.

Purdue is 9-0 for the first time since the 2009-10 team opened 14-0. The Boilermakers began a three-game home stretch against lesser opponents with Monday's 80-53 rout of IUPUI.

Just don't try telling coach Matt Painter that IUPUI, Howard (6-3) and Youngstown State are easy teams to beat after the Boilermakers lost last season to North Florida and Gardner-Webb.

“Looking at these opponents, like last year we got beat by North Florida, we got beat by Gardner-Webb so for us, we don't look at it that way,” Painter said. “We look at it like this game is really important to build our resume.”

Purdue is second in the nation in defensive field-goal percentage at 33.0 and is yielding 57.1 points per game for one of college basketball's best marks.

The Boilermakers will be tested by Daniel, who averages 28.4 points and 11.8 free throw attempts to lead the nation in those categories. He's a 5-foot-11 junior guard with a propensity for dramatic shots.

Daniel has drilled two late game-winners this season, including a basket with one second left in Monday's 71-69 win over North Carolina Central.

“There was never any doubt who was going to take that last shot,” coach Kevin Nickelberry told Howard's official website. “When he gets the ball in those situations, the bench expects him to make the shot.”

The shot capped a rally from five down with 1:44 left, with Tyler Stone hitting a tying 3-pointer for his only basket of the game and the sixth 3 of the junior's career.

Daniel finished with 27 points, making a career-high seven 3-pointers in nine attempts.

Purdue is plus-12.9 in rebound margin thanks to a frontcourt that features leading scorer Isaac Haas, a 7-2 center who averages 14.1 points, along with the 6-9 Caleb Swanigan and 6-8 Vince Edwards while 7-footer A.J. Hammons comes off the bench. Hammons is averaging 18.0 points and 9.0 rebounds in his last three games.

Howard is at plus-4.4 in rebound margin to match Hampton for the Mid-Eastern Conference's best mark.

One positive for the Boilermakers on Monday was Kendall Stephens' 13 points on 4-of-7 shooting after he made 5 of 31 shots for 15 points over his previous four games.

''(Shooting) has been a struggle the first few games for me, but it definitely was great getting out of it tonight,'' Stephens said.

Senior guard Rapheal Davis may return from a four-game absence due to a sprained knee. Davis averaged 11.6 points in starting the first five games.

“He's been going through shootarounds, been going through warmups now for a couple games,” Painter said. “I would think he plays on Wednesday.”

Purdue posted a 76-40 rout in the lone previous meeting in its 2010-11 opener.