Purdue faces another challenge in Louisville after tough trip to Bahamas

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. -- Purdue had its problems in the Bahamas-based Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, losing twice to unranked teams before crushing then-No. 2 Arizona 89-64 to claim seventh place.

No. 17 Louisville (4-0) has had NCAA-related problems this fall, includingan FBI investigation into bribery and corruption in college basketball -- a mess that cost veteran coach Rick Pitino his job.

On Tuesday night, the Boilermakers and Cardinals will play in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge in Purdue's Mackey Arena, each hoping to gain momentum.

Former Cardinals player David Padgett, who took over for Pitino on an interim basis, is waiting for the Cardinals to play to their potential. They are coming off Friday night's closer-than-expected 84-72 victoryover St. Francis, during which 6-foot-10 forward Ray Spalding led the way with 19 points and 13 rebounds. He is averaging 12 points and 9.3 rebounds.

"I had a weird feeling it was going to be a (close) game like that," Padgett said. "But we are 4-0, and that is the important thing."

Louisville also has victories against Southern Illinois (84-42), Nebraska Omaha (87-78) and George Mason (72-61). Deng Adel is the leading scorer at 17.5 points per game to go with 5.5 rebounds, but he says Spalding makes the Cardinals click with his interior presence.

"Ray is a monster down there," Adel said. "He's very versatile down there, gets a lot of steals and deflections."

Purdue (5-2) shot only 37.3 percent (22 of 59) in its 78-75 overtime loss to Tennessee in the opening round of last week's tournament, and 40.7 percent (24 of 59) in the consolation semifinals while losing 77-73 to Western Kentucky.

The Boilermakers found the range in the 25-point drubbing of Arizona, getting 24 points from guard Dakota Mathias, 22 from guard Carsen Edwards and 17 points, eight rebounds and four assists from forward Vince Edwards (no relation to Carsen).

Redshirt freshman center Matt Haarms came off the bench for six points, four rebounds and five blocks in helping Purdue enjoy a 37-27 rebounding advantage.

The Boilermakers come back home shooting 52 percent from the field, including 44 percent from 3-point range. All five starters are averaging in double figures, led by Carsen Edwards at 18.0 and Mathias at 16.1.


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Mathias said Purdue learned valuable lessons on Paradise Island.

"The first two teams we played were just ready to play right from the get, and we weren't, for whatever reason," Mathias said. "That is on us seniors to get everybody ready to go. Those are things we can correct. We will bounce back.

"It's nothing you can just pinpoint. Sometimes, it doesn't go your way, but that's not an excuse why you can't win a game. We have won plenty of games where we haven't shot the ball well. That is where we have to get better -- grinding it out when you don't shoot the ball well. That's where maturity and growth has to come in and maturity shows. We haven't shown that yet."

Purdue has 7-2 Isaac Haas and the 7-3 Haarms but relies more on its 3-point shooting. Against Arizona, the Boilermakers were 11 of 19 from beyond the arc, including a combined 8 of 15 from Mathias and Carsen Edwards.

It helped erase some memories from the losses to Tennessee and Western Kentucky.

"Thinking we were entitled didn't mean nothing," starting point guard P.J. Thompson said of the first two games in the Bahamas. "That just puts a target on your back. And if you're not mature enough to handle a target on your back, then that stuff that happened last week is going to happen."

Purdue played at Louisville last season, losing 71-64 to end its seven-game winning streak in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge.