Cincinnati, OH – Off to their best start under third-year ranked Xavier Musketeers put their undefeated record on the line as they entertain the Purdue Boilermakers today at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati.
Purdue is off to a 7-1 start, its only loss coming against nationally-ranked Alabama in the Puerto Rico Tip-Off on November 20. Since then, the Boilermakers have won three straight, including a 76-65 verdict over Miami- Florida on Tuesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Today marks PU's first true road game of the season, and the team has 26 true road wins since the start of the 2007-08 season -- the most of any program in the Big Ten during that span.
Xavier is 5-0 for the first time since starting the 2008-09 campaign at 9-0 on its way to a NCAA Tournament Sweet 16 appearance. The Musketeers are 4-0 at home this season, and they hope to continue their recent string of success against teams from the Big Ten, as they have won each of their last five matchups. The team's most recent win was its biggest of the young season as it ran away from Vanderbilt in overtime, on the road no less, in an 82-70 final.
Purdue owns a 9-4 lead in the all-time series with Xavier, but the Musketeers have won the last three meetings.
Purdue head coach Matt Painter is thrilled that Robbie Hummel is healthy and playing at an extremely high level, as the senior forward is averaging 19.0 points and 4.9 rebounds per game, while adding 14 blocks and shooting 46.5 percent from the field overall, which includes a 44.9 percent effort from three-point land. Ryne Smith is also a proven long-range sniper, as he is knocking down 50.9 percent of his treys in netting 11.8 ppg. Lewis Jackson (10.6 ppg, 4.4 apg) is the final double-digit scorer for the Boilermakers, who are hitting 45.8 percent of their total shots in putting up 78.6 ppg. Defensively, Purdue is yielding 61.2 ppg on a typical shooting output of 39.3 percent, and foes are guilty of 15.1 turnovers per game. In contrast, the Boilermakers are committing only 8.8 giveaways per outing. Hummel poured in a game-high 17 points in the recent win over Miami, as PU shot 55.3 percent from the floor despite missing 75 percent of its three-point attempts (4-of-16). Jackson hit for 15 points, and Terone Johnson came off the bench to supply 13 points on a 6-of-9 shooting effort. The Hurricanes were just 38.9 percent accurate on their field goal attempts.
Xavier is led by the backcourt duo of Mark Lyons and Tu Holloway, and both players have the ability to take over a game on a whim. Lyons averages 18.0 points and 4.2 rebounds per game, while shooting 48.6 percent from the field, which includes a 9-of-20 (.450) effort from long range, and Holloway produces 17.3 points and 5.3 assists per tilt, but is just a 39.1 percent shooter overall. As a team, the Musketeers are connecting on 46.5 percent of their total shots, and 41.8 percent of their three-point tries. At the defensive end, XU is permitting just 62.4 ppg on 36.1 percent field goal efficiency, and the team has been particularly stingy when it comes to allowing three-pointers (.283). Coach Mack's club easily wins the battle on the boards most nights (+7.6), and forces opponents into more than 15 turnovers per outing. Holloway scored 24 points, and Lyons added 19 for the Musketeers in the recent overtime win at Vanderbilt, and those efforts were clearly needed as the team shot just 37.8 percent from the floor. Andre Walker grabbed 14 of Xavier's 54 rebounds, which was 21 more than the Commodores logged. A 20-9 edge in points from the foul line, including 8-0 in the extra session, was a critical element in the win.