What UVA Basketball fans need to know about Purdue

uva basketballThe first thing you need to know about Purdue if you’re a UVA Basketball fan: no more Carsen Edwards.

The three-point barrage: over.

Yes, you can breathe now.

Nice job by the scheduling folks to put these two back together for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge this week.

Fourth-ranked Virginia (7-0) travels to West Lafayette to face the Boilermakers (4-3) on Wednesday night.

Purdue is coming off a busy weekend at the Emerald Coast Classic, beating VCU on a shot at the buzzer on Friday night, then losing to Florida State in OT on Saturday night.

At first glance, you’d think this one likely wouldn’t play at all like last year’s Elite Eight game, an 80-75 UVA OT win, except that, that one played as slow as this year’s game likely will.

The Elite Eight game played to a 62-possession pace including the extra five minutes.

This year, Purdue is 349th in adjusted tempo, per KenPom.com, at 62.4 possessions per game.

Virginia, as usual, is 353rd, and dead-last, nationally, at a hilarious 58.4 possessions per game.

This year’s Purdue group doesn’t have Edwards bombing from outside, but it’s still pretty good offensively, ranking 29th in adjusted offense (1.085 points per possession), led by 6’3” senior guard Jahaad Proctor (14.6 ppg, 43.9% FG, 26.9% 3FG) and 7’3” junior center Matt Haarms (11.7 ppg, 6.4 rebs/g, 69.8% FG).

The rotation also features 6’4” sophomores Eric Hunter (10.3 ppg, 3.7 assists/g, 42.2% FG, 28.0% 3FG) and Sasha Stefanovic (6.7 ppg, 38.2% FG, 39.3% 3FG) in the backcourt, and 6’9” sophomores Trevion Williams (7.4 ppg, 4.9 rebs/g, 75.0% FG) and Aaron Wheeler (6.4 ppg, 7.1 rebs/g) joining 6’7” junior Nojel Eastern (3.7 ppg, 3.7 rebs/g) in the frontcourt.

Two other guys will get minutes for coach Matt Painter in his nine-deep rotation: 6’1” freshman Isaiah Thompson (4.6 ppg, 36.0% 3FG) and 6’8” sophomore Evan Boudreaux (4.4 ppg, 3.3 rebs/g).

Purdue is big (10th nationally in average height on the floor, per KenPom.com) and good on the offensive boards (its 39.9 percent offensive rebound rate is fifth nationally).

The Boilermakers are also solid on the defensive end, ranking seventh nationally in adjusted defense (.873 points per possession).

Their size means UVA coach Tony Bennett can use his best two offensive players, 6’9” senior Mamadi Diakite (13.9 ppg, 7.3 rebs/g) and 7’1” junior Jay Huff (10.3 ppg, 7.4 rebs/g, 68.1% FG), together on the floor for longer stretches than he can when facing four-guard teams.

It would help if Bennett also would have 6’8” senior guard Braxton Key (10.3 ppg, 8.3 rebs/g) available, obviously. Word to us was that Key, who had surgery on a wrist injury last week, was set to be re-evaluated today, and could be a go for Wednesday.

Bennett could also use 6’7” sophomore guard Kody Stattmann (5.3 ppg), who has missed Virginia’s last four games while battling an illness.

With both out for UVA’s 46-26 win over Maine last week, Bennett had to go to freshman Justin McKoy and a pair of walk-ons, Chase Coleman and Jayden Nixon, for double-digit minutes, which, no, not ideal.

Story by Chris Graham


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