Friday’s men’s basketball game against Omaha, along with the result of another game that night, might provide a first in Purdue basketball history.

No. 3 Purdue (5-0) plays Omaha (1-4) at 2 p.m. Saturday in Mackey Arena – that’s a situation the Boilermakers can control. But a game featuring No. 1 Gonzaga against No. 5 at 7:30 p.m. in the Continental Tire Challenge in Las Vegas should intrigue Purdue fans. Why? On Tuesday, Gonzaga blasted No. 2 UCLA – also in Las Vegas – 83-63. If, and it’s a big if, Duke beats Gonzaga, Purdue is poised to be the No. 1 team in the nation when the Top 25 polls are released on Monday.

Since the inception of the Top 25 polls (originally the Top 20) – the Associated Press and the Coaches polls both began during the 1950-51 season – the Boilers have never made it to the top. Purdue has been No. 2 for 10 weeks over the years, most recently in March 1988. The longest the Boilers have been No. 2 is five straight weeks from Feb. 8 to March 7, 1988.

But the first part of the equation is beating the Mavericks. Omaha won its first game of the season over Hastings, 67-57, but it has been on a four-game losing streak since. Those included games at Ball State, at Kansas State, at Montana and at Texas Tech. In their last two games – Montana and Texas Tech – the Mavericks have scored just 47 and 40 points respectively.

They do not have a single player averaging double figures this season. The player closest to a double-figure average is 6-5 junior guard Kyle Luedtke who is averaging 9.6 points per game, despite not yet starting a game for Omaha. Nick Ferrarini, a 6-5 senior guard is second in scoring at 8.0 points per game, but he’s only played in two contests and neither as a starter.

However, the third leading scorer, 6-7 freshman forward Frankie Fidler (7.4 points per game) has started each game.

Two other players have started all five games. That includes 6-1 junior guard Felix Lemetti (6.8 ppg) and 6-1 senior guard Sam’i Roe (5.2 ppg).

The team is not shooting very well this season. It shoots 36.3 percent from the field – including 31.2 percent from 3-point distance. It shoots 66.2 percent from the free throw line, but has only 65 attempts. In Omaha’s five games, it has scored 287 points, or 57.4 per game.

By comparison, Purdue’s numbers are significantly better. Four players score in double figures – Zach Edey (17.2 ppg), Jaden Ivey (15.6), Sasha Stefanovic (14.8) and Trevion Williams (12.8). Purdue’s fifth-leading scorer – Caleb Furst (9.6) averages more than Omaha’s leading scorer.

The Boilermakers shoot better from the field (52.9 percent), 3-point distance (42.3 percent) and the line (74.6 percent). In its first five games, Purdue has scored 457 points, or 91.4 a game. That means the Boilermakers have scored 170 more points than the Mavericks this season.

Other statistical differences are not as dramatic, but still significant. Omaha has had 170 rebounds, Purdue has had 209. Omaha has 51 assists, Purdue 96. Omaha’s had 68 turnovers, Purdue 62. Omaha’s had 29 steals, Purdue 32.

Omaha is coached by Derrin Hansen, now in his 17th season. His record is 249-239. He’s won two conference titles – Mid-American Intercollegiate Athletic Association (2010) and the North Central Conference (2008) prior to the Mavericks joining Division I in the 2011-12 season.

The 53-year-old coach has had four winning seasons as a D-1 coach, most recently in 2018-19 with a 19-10 mark.

He’s second in all-time wins at the school, trailing Bob Hansen who won 382 games in 25 seasons.

The Black Friday game with Purdue is being broadcast on BTN+ and is not available free.


• Purdue is 5-0 for the first time since the 2015-16 season. It’s the sixth time Coach Matt Painter has stared 5-0 in 17 seasons. If Purdue beats Omaha, it will mark only the third time it has been 6-0 under Painter. The other times were 2009-10 (14-0), 2015-16 (11-0).

• Purdue has won 10 straight non-conference home games by a combined 300 points. Only two games have been decided by less than 25 points.

• Purdue ranks No. 2 in offensive efficiency behind Gonzaga. Other Top 10 national rankings in addition to being No. 3 in the AP Top 25, include: No. 4 in scoring offense, No. 8 in field goal percentage and No. 10 in rebound margin.

• Sasha Stefanvoic (157) needs four 3-pointers to tie PJ Thompson (161) for 15th in career 3-pointers made in a career.

• Painter (360) needs four wins to tie Indiana’s Branch McCracken (364 from 1938-65) for seventh on the Big Ten’s all-time wins list. Since 1980, just two Purdue coaches have won 872 games – former coach Gene Keady (512) and Painter (360).

• Purdue is 8-0 all-time against teams from the Summit League, playing Denver (1-0) and Western Illinois (6-0).

• Following tournament win in Connecticut, Purdue moved to No. 3 in the AP Top 25 rankings (and received one first-place vote). It’s Purdue’s highest ranking since the 2017-18 season, when it was ranked No. 3 for four straight weeks.

– Information from Purdue Athletics contributed to this report.

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