Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Boiler Basher -- Jones Fuels IU's Upset Bid

There’s something about Purdue that seems to bring out the best in Indiana’s Verdell Jones. The sophomore guard has burned the Boilers with two-game averages of 19.0 points, 5.5 rebounds and 4.5 assists.

Jones had 22 points in last month’s game at Assembly Hall. That’s one of eight 20-point efforts he’s had in 16 Big Ten games this season. In fact, Jones has scored at least 20 points in 11 of his last 19 conference games.

Yes, Purdue coach Matt Painter has noticed.

“(Defending Jones) is a key,” Painter said. “He’s had a lot of success against us. He’s a good player. He has good size for a guard. He has a nice pull-up (jumper). He has a nice in-between game. It’s important that we keep him in check.”

For the season Jones averages 14.6 points, 16.8 points in Big Ten games.

If IU (9-19) is to upset the seventh-ranked Boilers (24-4) tonight at Mackey Arena, Jones will have to have a huge game. So will forwards Christian Watford and Tom Pritchard, plus guards Devan Dumes and Jeremiah Rivers.

Don’t be surprised if Pritchard plays well. The sophomore has averaged 12.5 points and 6.5 rebounds in two games against Purdue. That’s well above his season averages of 4.4 points and 3.5 rebounds.

“With Watford and Dumes and (Jordan) Hulls, those guys can make shots,” Painter said. “Pritchard had his best game (of the season) against us. Rivers is a talented kid who can break you down.”

Still, the Hoosiers seem to be the ones who are broken with a 10-game losing streak and six straight losses by at least 14 points. Purdue has won three of the last four meetings, although IU has won six of the last nine games.

The Hoosiers haven't played well since nearly upsetting the Boilers at Assembly Hall last month. If ever there was a time to return to that form, this is the game. Otherwise, it could get real ugly real fast.

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