|Purdue looks to continue dominance over Valparaiso|
Even the short version of the first week of the Purdue men's basketball season was a long story -- a story of long shots, that is.
Entering Friday's visit from in-state rival Valparaiso, the Boilermakers rank among the top 10 in the nation in 3-point percentage (49.3 percent) and are in the top 15 in the nation in 3-pointers made per game (11.7).
Sasha Stefanovic (20 points) and Brandon Newman (21) led the way for Purdue against Oakland in Tuesday's home-opening rout while doing much of their damage from the outside, shooting a collective 10 of 16 from 3-point range.
Purdue (2-1) shot 17 of 32 from deep overall and finished 55 percent from the field.
"We started hot early with our shooting, and it kind of translated the rest of the game," Stefanovic said.
Purdue has won 11 consecutive games against Valparaiso, matching the program's longest active winning streak against a single opponent. The Boilermakers lead the all-time series 16-1 and their last loss to the Crusaders was Dec. 22, 1965.
The Crusaders (0-2) are coming off Tuesday's 16-point loss at Illinois-Chicago. Three players are averaging double figures for Valparaiso in the early going, with Donovan Clay (13.0) leading the trio that includes Ben Krikke (12.0) and Mileek McMillan (10.0).
The 6-foot-9 Krikke figures to face his stiffest challenge yet against Purdue's big frontcourt duo of Zach Edey (7-foot-4) and Trevion Williams (6-foot-10).
Valparaiso has made only 24.5 percent of its shots from long range through two games, a stark contrast to Purdue's accuracy.
"The message in the locker room, us as coaches, we're not in here pointing fingers at players," Crusaders coach Matt Lottich said. "We're looking at ourselves in the mirror, figuring out what we can do better. We need our guys to do the exact same thing."
The Boilermakers have been especially encouraged by the quick emergence of Newman, a redshirt freshman who attended high school in Valparaiso.
"He's played tremendous these first three games," Stefanovic said. "He's shot it really well. He's added a different dynamic to our team with his shooting ability and scoring ability."
Purdue is set to play three of its next four games at home, where fans are prohibited as a COVID-19 precaution.
"You've got to be ready to go from the jump on any of these nonconference games, and it's different with no fans and everything," Stefanovic said. "You can't really rely on that for energy to get going right away. It's just one of those things. You've got to be ready."
--Field Level Media