Tipoff: Purdue at Minnesota, 2:30 p.m. today
Online: For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio
Playing Ohio State close means nothing in Purdue's big basketball picture. In this winning-matters-most world, it's all about beating Minnesota today.
And if it meants getting hot in frigid Minneapolis, all the better.
“We're ready to get back out there, even our Big Ten record and get on a winning streak,” freshman guard Bryson Scott said.
This will be Scott's Big Ten road debut, and the former Northrop standout can't wait.
“I'm looking forward to the challenge,” he said. “We're ready to do what we can to win.”
Both teams are coming off losses. The Boilers (10-4 overall, 0-1 in the Big Ten) pushed No. 3 Ohio State hard at Mackey Arena before losing 78-69. Minnesota (11-3, 0-1) had a similar effort in a 63-60 home loss to Michigan.
“It's real important to get a win, build our confidence and boost our resume,” swingman Rapheal Davis said.
“Minnesota has a lot of quick guards. We have to buckle down on the perimeter and stop their guards from penetrating.”
The Boilers also have to thrive amid Williams Arena frenzy.
“We have to be at an even keel,” said Davis, a former South Side standout. “We can't get too high or too low. It's going to be loud. We have to go in together and stay together. We have to make the extra play down the stretch.”
The lesson from the Ohio State game, Scott said, is clear:
“We showed we can hang with those guys. We're capable of beating high-ranked teams. We want to prove we can be a top team in this conference.”
Minnesota has thrived under new coach Richard Pitino with pressure defense. Purdue is ready for it, freshman forward Basil Smotherman said.
“Minnesota is real fast,” he said. “They have great players. They probably have the quickest guards in the Big Ten.
“We have to bring that toughness, be ready for anything they throw at us. We need to do what Purdue does – play hard on offense and defense, get out and run.”
Minnesota guards Austin Hollins, Andre Hollins and DeAndre Mathieu were a combined 7-for-29 against Michigan. Coach Matt Painter doesn't expect a repeat given all three are double-figure scorers.
“They have a lot of guys who can really shoot. When you have guys who struggle in a game, normally the law of averages balance out the next game. They've proven they can knock down shots. A big test for us will be to slow their guards down.”