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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Boilermakers bracing for KU-friendly environment at Sprint Center

A sizable crowd attended the Jayhawks' open practice on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

A sizable crowd attended the Jayhawks' open practice on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, at Sprint Center in Kansas City, Mo.

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— When the Midwest Region’s fourth-seeded Purdue Boilermakers took the floor at Sprint Center Wednesday afternoon for practice, they received what freshman guard Carsen Edwards deemed a nice reception. No discernible boos. Just some cheers from a small contingent of Purdue supporters.

Edwards and his teammates know not to expect the same when they return to the arena Thursday night for their Sweet 16 matchup with top-seeded Kansas.

On a weekday afternoon for an open practice, the presence of numerous fans clad in KU blue didn’t get by Purdue junior forward Vincent Edwards.

“It’s gonna be a hostile environment,” Edwards predicted of the next time the Boilermakers appear in front of Kansas supporters. “They’re only about 40 minutes away from their gym, so they’re gonna come packed.”

Purdue head coach Matt Painter didn’t have any complaints about his Boilermakers’ current postseason predicament.

“I think it's the right thing,” Painter said of KU (30-4) playing roughly 42 miles from Allen Fieldhouse. “Any time that you've had the season that Kansas has had, you've earned the right to be as close to home as possible. I think that you need to reward the people that have the best seasons. They had to go on the road this year and play. They had to go to neutral sites and play, and look at their record. Look what they have been able to accomplish. So they've earned the right to do that, and that's part of the NCAA Tournament. But I think it's justifiable.”

Likewise, Purdue star big man Caleb Swanigan said running into a Kansas team playing in front of its vocal fans didn’t bother him.

“No, we've been in a lot of hostile environments playing in the Big Ten,” said Swanigan, who helped the Boilermakers go 6-4 in road venues and 6-1 on neutral courts. “It's not an easy place to play on the road. We've been to Indiana, to Maryland, to Michigan State, so I think that prepped us really well for this.”

Purdue’s players say they’re thinking more about keys to their performance, such as taking care of the basketball and trying to keep Kansas out of transition opportunities, instead of worrying about the noise coming from the arena’s seats.

Junior guard P.J. Thompson said the Boilermakers (27-7) plan to stick to what got them to this stage in the first place.

“We’re playing to go to the Elite Eight. That’s a huge deal,” Thompson said. “A lot of people are going to be watching the game, but you can’t focus on that. Just focus on yourself, win the game.”

His team has to be considered an underdog against Kansas, and Thompson said the Boilermakers should feel comfortable in that role.

“We feel like Kansas is a great program. They have a great coach, great players and to beat a team like that to advance to the Elite Eight, I think that’s awesome,” Thompson said. “That’s our goal, that’s what we want to do. Just keep winning, keep advancing.”

KU, undoubtedly, will win the crowd-support battle. But Carsen Edwards and his teammates insist that’s one facet of the Sweet 16 clash that gives them no worries.

“I know the crowd and momentum is a big thing in this game,” Edwards said, “but we’re just kind of focusing on the game and just what’s happening on the court.”


More news and notes previewing Kansas vs. Purdue


Comments

Dirk Medema 4 years, 10 months ago

KU-friendly is accurate, but that seems like a stretch from hostile. They need to think that way, but it seems like Jayhawk fans seem to have a lot of respect for Purdue.

Ben Berglund 4 years, 10 months ago

And we should respect them. I don't know whether you remember the last time we played Purdue in 2012. It was also in the NCAAs (2nd round) and Robbie Hummel for Purdue put on a show scoring 26 in a game we won 63-60. Elijah Johnson led the Hawks in scoring with 18. This was Tyshawn Taylor's senior season where we had the magical run to the title game that was unfortunately lost to UK. I'm seeing some parallels with that team and this year's team - for example senior or upperclass leadership but little depth, and Larry Brown hanging out with the team as they (hopefully) continue to make their run. Something about starting the tourney out watching Danny Manning's Wake Forrest team almost get the upset seemed like an auspicious sign as well. Sorry for the Grandpa Simpson rant, but hopefully some of you are enjoying our boys' run as much as me.

Jonathan Allison 4 years, 10 months ago

yes, we all remember that game. But thanks for the recap. I have been saying it since the first of February. This team reminds me a lot of that 2012 team. And they've only confirmed it with furious comebacks against WVU and OU, etc. They are walking the razor's edge. Maximizing their talents with senior leadership and smart play, despite a slim bench. This team is better than that team, if only because of better outside shooting and Josh Jackson. But that 2012 team could shoot it, too. Taylor was having a great season shooting the ball. EJ was solid, Teahan was a shooter, and Travis Releford had a decent year shooting it. But this years team bombs away like no other, and because we're not forcing it in to Lucas as much as we did to TRob, it's more opportunities for a more guard oriented team. This team has a chance to do what that team did not, but they can't overlook this Purdue game, tonight, or else it's lights out, see ya next year.

Edward Daub 4 years, 10 months ago

Here is a Trivia Question for you. Who was the Color Man for the Game? Steve Kerr!

KU started out the Game Man to Man with Power Forward Thomas Robinson attempting to guard Hummel. Hummel was red hot and knocking down 3 pointers.

Bill Self switched to an alternate defense later, the Triangle and 2, and turned the tide of the game. You might see this again tonight against Purdue.

You have to guard Caleb and also stick to Dakota Mathias like a postage stamp. Vince Edwards is also a tough matchup at forward. I want KU to win!

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