Alabama entered this season regarded as one of the nation's stingiest teams. The 16th-ranked Crimson Tide have certainly lived up to their reputation early on.
With a shot at opening 5-0 for the first time in five years, Alabama looks to slow down Robbie Hummel and Purdue's red-hot offense Sunday night in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off championship game.
The Tide (4-0), who finished eighth in the nation with 59.4 points allowed per game last season, seem to have picked up right where they left off. Alabama, off to its best start since winning its first seven games in 2006-07, is allowing its opponents to shoot just 30.9 percent from the field while surrendering an average of 50.8 points.
One day after defeating Maryland 62-42 in the opening round of this tournament, the Tide advanced to the title game with Friday's 70-60 victory over Wichita State.
"That was the goal coming in and we're happy to have the opportunity to play for a championship," coach Anthony Grant said.
"We don't play in the past. We don't play in the future. We are focused on today."
Alabama recorded a tournament-record 14 blocks, holding the Shockers to 33.8 percent shooting and scoring 15 points off their 18 turnovers.
"Their press is really good," Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall said. "They take you out of sets. You have to beat the pressure, but if you do they have some guys in the back who can alter if not block shots."
Junior forward Tony Mitchell led the way with a game-high 26 points while sophomore guard Trevor Releford and senior forward JaMychal Green each scored 15. Green also had 11 rebounds for his 21st career double-double.
While the Tide have outscored opponents by an average of 16.7 points thus far, they could be in for a challenge against a Boilermakers' offense that's putting up 84.8 points per game.
"They have a tremendous tradition," Grant said. "We know it is going to be a very tough game."
Purdue (4-0) beat Iona 91-90 on Hummel's 3-pointer with 20 seconds remaining Thursday and kept attacking Friday. Senior guard Lewis Jackson had a career-high 26 points while Hummel scored 20 in an 85-77 win over Temple.
Hummel, whose 2009-10 season was cut short after tearing his right ACL, missed all of last season after suffering the same injury in practice.
The fifth-year senior, however, doesn't seem to be hindered by his injury-plagued past. He's averaging a team-best 20.8 points while shooting 48.4 percent from the floor and 53.8 percent from beyond the arc.
Hummel scored 23 points on 8 of 14 shooting - including 3 for 5 from long distance - and had nine rebounds in a 73-65 victory at Alabama on Dec. 12, 2009. With Hummel sidelined, the Boilermakers won the rematch last season 66-47 on Dec. 4 as the Tide went 0 for 9 from 3-point range.
Green missed that game while serving a suspension for conduct detrimental to the team.
The Boilermakers had won four of five against ranked opponents on neutral sites before falling 70-57 to then-No. 3 Duke during a regional semifinal in the 2010 NCAA tournament.
Purdue, which has won five of seven all-time versus Alabama, has opened 5-0 in each of the previous three seasons.