The West Virginia University Basketball Team heads out west, but to Big Ten country rather than Big 12. They are taking on a Purdue Boilermakers team that has had their fair share of ups and downs so far this season, much like the Mountaineers.
In their last contest, WVU (8-8, 1-3) was able to fight back from an 18-point deficit to tie Iowa State in Ames with 12 seconds left. However, Greg Niang scored an easy layup for ISU with three seconds to go to snag the victory. West Virginia missed their first 12 three-pointers, but made nine of their last 12 attempts.
Purdue (9-8, 3-2) is on a two-game winning streak after defeated Penn State and Nebraska in conference play. They have had a season very similar to WVU's where they roll off a few wins in a row, then lose a couple consecutively.
The Boilermakers are a physical group that can dominate the boards and play tough defensively. They are 14th in total rebounds per game (41.1) and give up an average of 61.7 points. However, they do struggle to score the basketball, averaging 66.1 points per game (212th) and shoot just 41.9% from the field (233rd).
Purdue has three players averaging double-digits in points, led by junior guard Terone Johnson (13.4). The other two are forward D.J. Byrd (10.1) and big 7'0 center A.J. Hammons (10.6). Byrd is a player who is not afraid to shoot it from beyond the arc. He has shot 109 threes this season and scored 38 of them (35%).
Hammons is the leading rebounder for the Boilermakers, grabbing 6.4 per game. He has also been a force on the defensive end of the court, averaging 2.0 blocks per game. I believe he will be the biggest threat for the Mountaineers, especially with the recent frontcourt struggles.
After the Iowa State loss, Head Coach Bob Huggins said he was "done" going with a big lineup and will go small from now on. He said he had one big (Kevin Noreen) who wanted to rebound and he was the only one who played at the end of the last game.
It is still unknown whether or not Gary Browne and Terry Henderson will play against Purdue. Henderson did not travel to the Iowa State game due to a lower-back injury. Browne injured his ankle against the Cyclones Wednesday night.
This will be the seventh time these two schools have met, with the last coming two seasons ago at the Coliseum. WVU is 1-5 against the Boilermakers, but the only win did come in the game two years ago.
This year's game will be Saturday at 2:00 p.m. ET and will be aired regionally on CBS.