Purdue-Alabama Preview

Purdue’s defense is still among the best in the nation, and its

offense is finally starting to click.

The fifth-ranked Boilermakers look to improve upon their best

start in 16 years Saturday when they face an Alabama team coming

off one of its best performances of the season.

Purdue (8-0) hasn’t been unbeaten this far into a season since

opening 14-0 in 1993-94, but that record could be tested in

Tuscaloosa. The Crimson Tide (6-2) have had a week off to prepare

and are riding a three-game win streak that includes a victory in

their only game against a ranked team – 68-66 over then-No. 15

Michigan on Nov. 29.

The Boilermakers played Wednesday, causing 18 turnovers and

holding Valparaiso to 42.2 percent shooting in an 86-62 victory.

The Boilermakers, ninth in the nation with 20.0 turnovers forced

per game, are holding teams to 38.1 percent from the field.

Purdue, however, struggled with its shooting during the first

six games, making 42.9 percent while going 29 of 109 (26.6 percent)

from 3-point range. But after hitting 12 of 24 from beyond the arc

and shooting 52.2 percent in last Saturday’s 101-65 victory over

Buffalo, the Boilermakers hit nine of their first 11 shots

Wednesday and made a season-high 52.7 percent from the floor.

“We just started making shots,” said junior Robbie Hummel, who

had 15 points and made all three of his 3-point attempts after

hitting 4 of 28 in his previous six games. “We haven’t really been

doing anything different.”

The Boilermakers, who were 10 of 22 from 3-point range

Wednesday, have scored 80 or more points four times this season

compared to just five in 2008-09.

“I wouldn’t say we’re in a comfort zone, but we’re confident,”

coach Matt Painter said. “When you get comfortable, you get beat.

That’s why you have to keep players on edge.”

Aside from last month’s Paradise Jam title in the Virgin

Islands, Painter’s team will play its first game of the season away

from Mackey Arena on Saturday.

Purdue’s only previous road game against Alabama was a 97-80

loss Nov. 26, 1976, in Birmingham.

The Crimson Tide have won four straight at home and are coming

off a 74-46 victory over Louisiana-Monroe last Saturday. Alabama

committed nine turnovers and had a season-high 16 steals.

“If you can play unselfishly, play hard, play with energy and

play with purpose you’re going to have a chance to be successful,”

coach Anthony Grant told the school’s official Web site. “What that

means for our next game, I really don’t know. We’ve just go to

continue to try to get better and to continue to try to control the

things we can control.”

Mikhail Torrance averages a team-high 15.1 points and JaMychal

Green adds 14.4 per game for Alabama, which has lost three straight

against top-five teams by an average of 8.7 points since beating

then-No. 1 Stanford on March 20, 2004.

“I look it as a chance find out where we are at this stage of

the season,” Grant said of facing Purdue. “It’s a test for us and

another opportunity to see where we are, where we need to improve

and where we’ve grown.”

Purdue leading scorer E’Twaun Moore, averaging 16.8 points,

matched a career high with five 3-pointers and scored 19 points

Wednesday. The junior is 11 of 21 from long range in his last five


In its last game versus Alabama, Purdue lost 85-77 in double

overtime March 23, 2001, in the postseason NIT. The Boilermakers

lead the all-time series 3-2.