Purdue, West Virginia in top-10 battle

By: Brad Young | Thursday, December 31, 2009

Bob Huggins and No. 6 West Virginia head into hostile territory at No. 4 Purdue.

Two top-10 teams with a combined 23-0 record collide on New Year’s Day at Purdue’s Mackey Arena in West Lafayette, Indiana when sixth-ranked West Virginia visits the fourth-ranked Boilermakers.

Most of the sports world will be focusing on the college bowl games, but this matchup has the potential to be one of Friday’s best games in any sport.

West Virginia (11-0 straight up, 4-6 against the spread) began Big East play with a couple of narrow victories.  The Mountaineers toppled Seton Hall in overtime Saturday as a four-point road favorite, 90-84, before needing a very late rally to beat Marquette on Tuesday as 12-point home ‘chalk,’ 63-62.

In the victory over Marquette, the Mountaineers trailed by five with a minute to go before mounting the winning rally.  Da'Sean Butler canned a jumper with just two seconds left to complete the comeback.

West Virginia has struggled to a 1-3 ATS ledger its last four outings.

The Mountaineers prevailed by out-rebounding the Golden Eagles, 33-20, while shooting a robust 51 percent (28-of-55) from the field and 50 percent (4-of-8) from behind the arc.  Forward Devin Ebanks paced the offense with 19 points and eight rebounds, while Butler added 17 and seven.

West Virginia is 5-0 SU and away from home, winning those endeavors by an average score of 80-68.  This will be just its third true road game, winning the previous two at Cleveland State and at Seton Hall.

The Mountaineers follow this contest with a home game against Rutgers before embarking on a two-game conference road trip against Notre Dame and South Florida.

Purdue (12-0 SU, 6-6 ATS) started its Big Ten season by dispatching Iowa on Tuesday as a 14-point road favorite, 67-56.

Purdue broke open a close contest by outscoring the Hawkeyes in the second half, 41-29.  The Boilermakers won the rebounding battle, 29-27, while shooting 49 percent (26 of 53) from the field and 36 percent (four of 11) from three-point land.

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Guard E’Twaun Moore led all scorers with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, while forward Robbie Hummel was the only other player to reach double digits in scoring with 16.  The team struggled from the charity stripe, connecting on a modest 61 percent (11-of-18).

The Boilermakers are just 1-3 ATS their last four board games, the only 'cover' as seven-point favorites at Alabama on Dec. 12 when they topped the Crimson Tide, 73-65.

Purdue sports a 6-0 SU and 3-3 ATS home record, prevailing by an average score of 81-57.  The Boilermakers return to Big Ten action following this contest with a home game against Minnesota.

Don Best Sports lists Purdue as four-point home ‘chalk’ over West Virginia, with no total posted. The game marks the first time in over 12 years a Big East team has appeared in Mackey Arena.  It's also the first time since 1981 that the Boilermakers and Mountaineers have faced each other.  Purdue has won each of the previous three meetings.

ESPN will provide coverage of this contest beginning at 11:30 a.m. (PT).

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