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Purdue University

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at Northwestern
When: 9 p.m. today
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1380 AM, 1480 AM
Associated Press
Northwestern coach Chris Collins said the Wildcats will have to focus on stopping Purdue center A.J. Hammons tonight in their Big Ten matchup in Evanston, Ill.

Boilers well aware of Wildcats’ defense

– Purdue coach Matt Painter knows the Boilermakers offense will be tested tonight.

Purdue (13-5, 3-2 Big Ten) travels to play Northwestern (9-10, 2-4), and the Wildcats have held their opponents to less than 55 points in their last three games, which included wins over Illinois and Indiana.

“They do a good job of stopping the basketball,” Painter said during Monday’s Big Ten coaches teleconference. “They really swarm the ball. They make you make the next play.”

The Wildcats also make teams play their style as they slow down opponents and force them to shoot over the defense.

The Wildcats held IU to 25 percent shooting in a 54-47 win Saturday and held Illinois to 28.1 percent shooting in a 49-43 win Jan. 12. Michigan State shot 38.5 percent in its 54-40 win over Northwestern on Wednesday.

“You don’t get anxious and take bad shots on the offensive end or take quick shots. I feel that is feeding right into their hands,” Painter said of combating Northwestern’s defense. “When you are going against a set defense, you just have to be efficient, you have to be patient without being deliberate. They’ve gotten some people to be impatient, and then when they were patient, they were really deliberate. You got to do a good job of moving.”

Purdue also has to continue to take advantage of its offensive rebounds.

The Boilermakers are second in the Big Ten in offensive rebounds with 14.5 per game.

“They do a great job of sending a lot of guys to the offensive boards and getting extra possessions and getting extra points and getting themselves to the free-throw line,” Northwestern coach Chris Collins said. “They are playing really hard. They are playing with a lot of confidence. They’ve won some close games. You can see them getting better.”

Collins also sees Purdue’s A.J. Hammons getting better each game as the center comes into tonight averaging 9.8 points and 6.9 rebounds.

“They provide some matchup problems with a guy like Hammons,” Collins said. “He’s a handful down in the post, and they are doing a good job of getting him the ball. What do you do with him? That is going to have to be something that we talk about and get set coming into the game.”

Purdue comes into tonight’s game with plenty of confidence after winning its last three games in a seven-day span and by pulling out those victories with narrow margins.

The Boilermakers defeated Nebraska 70-64 on Jan. 12, Illinois 66-58 on Wednesday and Penn State 65-64 on Saturday.

“I think any time you can get into close games like we have been in it is really a confidence booster,” Painter said.

“I think it is very, very important that you have that type of information to sell your point to get them to understand this is what we are going to have to hang our hat on.”