Morehead St.-Purdue Preview
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- No. 15 Purdue and Morehead State enter their Saturday afternoon game in Mackey Arena with problems to solve.
While the Boilermakers' issues are quite fixable, the Eagles are dealing with the suspension -- with pay -- of fifth-year head coach Sean Woods, who is facing complaints of player mistreatment.
Assistant coach Preston Spradlin is the acting head coach. Woods, a former Kentucky standout guard who had a 75-63 record in his first four seasons at Morehead State, was suspended by athletic director Brian Hutchinson on Nov. 22. The Eagles (2-4) lost their past four games, including the past two under Spradlin.
"Resulting from complaints received, the institution has begun an investigation involving the head basketball coach," Hutchinson said in a statement issued by the university. "While we continue through the formal process, we believe it is prudent to suspend the coach until the investigation is finished."
Purdue (5-2) comes into the game off a 71-64 ACC/Big Ten Challenge loss at No. 14 Louisville on Wednesday. The Boilermakers shot only 35.8 percent (19 of 53), turned the ball over 17 times and got only one point from struggling junior forward Vince Edwards.
Edwards, the team's leading returning scorer (11.3 points last season), is averaging only 10.6 points while shooting only 41.3 percent from the field.
Purdue is averaging 15.7 turnovers and has been guilty of 54 total turnovers in its three most recent games (18 per contest).
The Boilermakers' front line of Edwards, 6-foot-8 Caleb Swanigan and 7-2 Isaac Haas was a collective 5 of 20 from the field and 11 of 16 from the free throw line for only 23 points during the loss at Louisville.
Swanigan (six), Edwards (three) and Haas (one) were guilty of 10 of the 17 turnovers.
"We have to grow," said Swanigan, who is averaging 18.1 points and 11.9 rebounds. "I have to be better with the ball, take care of the ball and just be myself. At Louisville, we allowed them to take us out of some things.
"Even with all of the turnovers, we were able to get within four at one point. If we don't learn from it, then it's just us being uncoachable. We are going to have to see what this team is made of down the road."
Junior guard Dakota Mathias said there is no excuse for most of Purdue's giveaways.
"We have to be solid with the ball, but we also can't be too cautious," Mathias said. "We are making simple errors -- mental errors -- and then it just gets in our heads."
Boilermaker point guard P.J. Thompson shoulders the blame for what happened at Louisville.
"When we are on the road, we have to come out with a better fight," Thompson said. "It starts with me as the point guard. As a junior captain, I have to have my team ready to play.
"I have played in big games -- big road games -- and we didn't come out at Louisville like we were ready to fight."
Morehead State is led by senior guard Xavier Moon, who is averaging 13.3 points a game, and by sophomore guard Malik Maitland, who is averaging 12 points.
Since Woods' suspension, Morehead State dropped a 76-63 decision at Pittsburgh and fell 84-79 to Northern Kentucky on Wednesday.
In the only other meeting between the Boilermakers and Eagles, Purdue defeated Morehead State 81-71 on Dec. 5, 1985, in West Lafayette.