2/9/20 Iowa, Dominique Oden

Senior guard Dominique Oden jumps back and releases the ball over the arms of an Iowa defender on Feb. 9.

Purdue stole two down-to-the-wire wins on the road last week, improving its record to 17-10 and 8-7 in the Big Ten. Te Boilers look forward to their next Big Ten opponent, Michigan State, tonight.

More Boilermakers are stepping up as leaders on the court. In the last two games, at least eight Purdue players have grabbed multiple rebounds, and seven players put points on the board.

Senior guard and team captain Dominique Oden and head coach Sharon Versyp attribute the improved team play to the confidence and trust in each other as teammates that led to more ball-sharing.

“Everybody’s talking and communicating,” Oden said. “Everybody’s bringing the energy and I feel like that’s the big difference now. Early on, it was just leaders talking, but now everybody’s becoming a leader.”

The results of the players’ improved teamwork spur them to work hard in practice to prepare for the Spartans.

“It’s been very positive energy, (the last two wins) built a lot of confidence. To play on the road, it’s very tough to be able to get to win,” Versyp said. “Practice has been energized, on both ends of the floor, so (we’re) just real excited.”

The Spartans are well known by the Boilers to have strong transition offense when they get a hand on the ball. Versyp says their shift to playing four guards at a time makes them dangerous.

Despite this, the large number of Purdue players who can sink shots levels the playing field and even gives the Boilers an advantage.

“My players can all shoot,” Versyp said. “We’ve got to stick to the basket. We’ve got to do a good job on the boards.”

The Boilers plan on limiting offensive rebounding and stopping guards Taryn McCutcheon and Nia Clouden before they can do damage on the court.

“They’re what makes the team go,” Oden said. “They play really well, so we have to make sure we play well.”

The players are ready to be back at home, excited by the energy generated from Mackey Arena and loyal Boilermaker fans.

“Whatever game we play, (energy) is always high, it’s always on our side,” Oden said. “So that’s going to be a different atmosphere. Compared to when we went to Michigan State, that’s going to be awesome.”

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