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Boiler Men's Basketball Focusing On Its Inconsistent Offense, Cincy's Tough Defense

Stan Jastrzebski

After learning they’d received a number nine seed in the NCAA basketball tournament, members of the Purdue men’s basketball team were variously relieved and concerned about their past struggles.

Forward Rapheal Davis said he was looking forward to watching film of the Boilermakers' opening round opponent, Cincinnati, but noted that most every pundit had written the team off in the preseason and as recently as a couple months ago.

“You try not to see it but you see it – it’s obvious. That takes a lot of pressure off you, actually. Nobody’s expecting much from you, nobody’s expecting you to do things," Davis says. "Even in December, no one expected this. No one even expected us to make the NIT.”

Starting center A.J. Hammons says the team, in his words, “didn’t take care of business” by blowing a five-point halftime lead to conference champion Wisconsin in the semifinals of the Big Ten Tournament. Hammons says that was indicative of the Jekyll-and-Hyde nature of the team this season.

“I feel like we’ve just been a one half team – we’ve just got to finish it off, just play a complete 40 minutes,” he says.

Cincinnati is one of the nation’s best defensive teams, holding its opponents to an average of 55 points per game. Even if the Boilers advance to the round of 32, they’re likely to face top overall seed Kentucky – the only unbeaten men’s team in the regular season.

Purdue faces Cincinnati on Thursday in Louisville.