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Saturday, 24-Dec-2011 04:14 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Indiana-Purdue Preview

Returning home to face archrival Indiana might be what Purdue needs tobounce back from its latest Big Ten defeat.

The 14th-ranked Boilermakers look to remain undefeated at Mackey Arena andextend the Hoosiers road losing streak to 14 on Tuesday night.

Though Purdue (18-5, 7-3) shot 47.9 percent and overcame an eight-pointhalftime deficit, it fell 66-59 at No. 13 Wisconsin last Tuesday.

The Boilermakers have had a week to learn from their fourth straight roadloss and prepare for Indiana (12-12, 3-, which has not won away from homesince beating Penn State 67-61 on Jan. 21, 2010.

Allowing 58.0 points per game while going 12-0 at Mackey Arena, Purdue haswon three straight at home versus Indiana by an average of 15.4 points. TheHoosiers last won in West Lafayette, 70-59 on March 1, 2006.

Purdue coach Matt Painter hopes his squad can continue that success over theHoosiers by trying to build on its solid second-half effort at Wisconsin. TheBoilermakers and Badgers are tied for second in the Big Ten behind undefeatedand top-ranked Ohio State.

Our guys really came out and played with some life, played with someenergy, Painter said.

JaJuan Johnson scored 23 points and ETwaun Moore added 15 against theBadgers. The star inside-outside duo averages a combined 38.2 points, with the6-foot-10 Johnson averaging 24.1 over his last seven games.

Moore scored 21 in a 74-55 home win over Indiana in the teams last meetingMarch 3. Set to make a school-record 126th start Tuesday, Moore has totaled 47points on 18-of-31 shooting in two career home games against the Hoosiers.

They are both outstanding senior leaders, coach Tom Crean told Indianasofficial website. Moore is a player that can get the crowd going very quicklywith his shooting. Johnson is playing in the present as well as any seniorplayer in the country.

Despite the Hoosiers road struggles at Purdue and overall, they have notplayed like a team tied for last in the Big Ten of late.

Over the last four games, Indiana beat then-No. 20 Illinois and then-No. 18Minnesota at home and fell in overtime at previously ranked Michigan Statebefore failing to secure a 10-point lead in Saturdays 64-63 home loss to Iowa.

We are coming off of four straight games that were decided on the finalplay, Crean said. I think we have shown great resolve, regardless of theoutcome, to recognize that each game following takes on a greater importance andthe focus has to be on our ability to come out with the proper mindset.

The Hoosiers have stepped up on the defensive end during that four-gamespan, holding opponents to 63.5 points on 39.5 percent shooting.

Crean hopes his squad can remain stingy while trying to snap a 23-game roadlosing streak against Top 25 opponents since a 77-66 win over No. 13 Iowa onJan. 13, 2002.

Indiana guard Jordan Hulls matched a career high with 24 points Saturday.The sophomore, averaging 16.8 points on 49.0 percent shooting over the last fourcontests, combined for 14 points in two games versus Purdue last season.


Saturday, 24-Dec-2011 04:14 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Raptors-Bucks Preview

Despite their recent struggles, the Milwaukee Bucks postseason hopes remainvery much alive. Theyll look to get back on track with a nonthreateningupcoming schedule.

The Bucks will try to avoid matching a season-worst five-game losing streakwhen they host the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night.

After coming up empty on its three-game road trip, Milwaukee fell 89-78 tovisiting Detroit on Saturday night, prompting a blunt assessment from centerrecorded season bests with 29 and 25, respectively.

who leads the team with 15.8 points per game, has averagedjust 5.2 on 25.6 percent shooting over five contests since returning from a19-game absence due to a broken foot.

Milwaukees 91.3 points per game rank last in the league but it could takeadvantage of a Raptors defense allowing an average of 105.3 points during anine-game road losing streak.

whom the Raptors dealt to Milwaukee in 2009, is averaging15.0 points in four games against his former team since the trade.

Toronto hasnt lost 10 straight as the visiting team within one season sincea franchise-worst 11-game slide Dec. 1, 2004-Jan. 14, 2005.

The Raptors (14-37) snapped a season-worst 13-game overall losing streakwith a 111-100 win Friday night over Minnesota thanks in large part to 30 points.

Bargnani, who is averaging a team-best 21.1 points, was limited to 13.0 pergame on 23.5 percent shooting over his previous three contests. He is averagingjust 9.8 points at Milwaukee over his career.

who was acquired by Toronto in the Delfino deal, also came upbig Friday with 19 points on 8-of-10 shooting with 12 rebounds.

Amir was unbelievable, coach Jay Triano said. His line is almost perfectbasketball for a power forward.

Johnson is averaging 18.4 points - 8.0 more than his season mark - and 10.2boards over his last five games, including a season-high 24-point effort with 12rebounds in the Jan. 28 loss to the Bucks.

averaging 13.4 points, has missed the Raptors last 12games with a strained right hamstring but practiced Monday and could return inthis one.

The Bucks have taken five of seven in the series while averaging 107.3points.


Saturday, 24-Dec-2011 04:14 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Thrashers-Maple Leafs Preview

The Toronto Maple Leafs havent been able to get much done on opponentshome ice lately. A game at Air Canada Centre could help them get back on trackbefore hitting the road again.

Toronto goes for its third straight home win Monday night when it faces aslumping Atlanta Thrashers team.

The Maple Leafs (21-26-5) have dropped five in a row on the road afterwinning a season-high five straight away from Toronto. Saturdays 6-2 loss atBuffalo prevented the Maple Leafs from winning their third straight overall.

As well as we played the other night (in Thursdays 3-0 victory overCarolina), we played as equally bad tonight, said coach Ron Wilson, whose teamopens a stretch of four of five on the road on Tuesday against the New YorkIslanders.

While the Maple Leafs 25 shots and 0-for-3 power-play effort didnt help,rookie goaltender was also far less effective against the Sabresthan he was Thursday when he earned his first career shutout.

Its a tough one, but those happen, said Reimer, who was pulled aftergiving up five goals through two periods. Me and everybody else just has to bea little bit better.

If Wilson gives Reimer a third consecutive start in front of it will be the 21-year-olds third appearance against Atlanta(24-21-10). Reimer made his NHL debut in the teams last matchup in Toronto onDec. 20, stopping all four shots he faced after Wilson pulled and each scored twiceand defenseman matched a career high with four assists in thatmatchup as Toronto avoided a third straight loss in this series.

Including that defeat, the Thrashers have lost 10 of 12 and are tied withCarolina for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East. Atlanta was atop theSoutheast Division after capping off a 12-2-2 run with the Dec. 20 victory inToronto.

We had a stretch where we played at such a high level, and our schedulecaught up to us, Thrashers general manager Rick Dudley told the teams officialwebsite prior to Saturdays 4-3 overtime road loss to Carolina. I dont know ifour guys got tired, or what they got, but our tempo dropped off and now wereattempting to regroup and get that tempo back.

Atlanta, which has lost seven of 10 on the road, could benefit if All-Stardefenseman regains his scoring touch.

Tied for the team lead in goals (16) and points (41), Byfuglien has notrecorded a point in the last 13 games. The Thrashers have converted just fivetimes in 40 power-play opportunities during this stretch.

With the team scoring three or fewer goals in each of these games,goaltender has not had much margin for error. He has a 3-6-4 witha 3.38 GAA while starting each of those contests.

Pavelec has turned away 56 of 64 shots versus Toronto this season, and if innet on Monday, he will try to extend All-Star forward goal-scoringdrought to 11 games.

Kessel had a goal and an assist in last months victory in Atlanta.

The road team has won the last four in this series.


Saturday, 24-Dec-2011 04:13 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Jazz-Kings Preview

The Sacramento Kings find themselves in the midst of a brutal part of theirschedule.

While they might not have originally been looking forward to their nextmatchup, the Kings will try to take advantage of a home meeting with thestumbling Utah Jazz on Monday night.

After upsetting the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers onthe road and ending New Orleans season-best 10-game winning streak, the Kings(12-35) fell 95-90 to Eastern Conference-leading Boston before losing 113-100 onFriday night to San Antoniothe league leader with 42 wins.

We know we have a tough stretch coming up, told the Kingsofficial website. We talked about it - we had the Lakers, New Orleans, Boston,San Antonio and we have Utah, Dallas and Oklahoma City coming (up).

We have to play our best to win those games and we werent at our best(Friday) night.

After shooting 50 percent or better in the wins over the Lakers and Hornets,the Kings failed to reach 44 percent in the losses to the Celtics and Spurs.Additionally, Sacramento was held to a season-low 35.8 percent shooting in its94-83 loss at Utah on Nov. 22.

leading the team with 18.0 points per game, scored 25 againstthe Spurs.

Last seasons rookie of the year is averaging 23.0 pointstied for hissecond-most versus any opponentagainst Utah. He was, however, held to 11 inthe last meeting.

Utah (30-22) has lost nine of 12 after a 121-105 defeat Saturday night atthe hands of Oklahoma City despite 34 points and 10 rebounds from scored 14 points and registered 11 assists in his second gameback after missing four with a strained tendon in his right wrist. Williams went0 of 4 from 3-point range and has made just two of his last 19 attempts (10.5percent) from long distance.

Williams has averaged 15.1 points over 18 career games versus the Kings,nearly seven points below his 2010-11 average of 21.9.

Utah snapped a six-game road losing streak - its longest in thee seasons -with a 113-106 win at Denver on Friday night. It was just the third time in 12road games the Jazz won when allowing 100 or more points.

While Utahs remains uncertain to play after sitting outthree straight games with a sprained left ankle, Kings starting center is likely to return after missing two contests with a sprained rightankle.

Thompson is averaging 8.2 points and 5.8 rebounds.


Saturday, 24-Dec-2011 04:13 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Rangers-Red Wings Preview

The Detroit Red Wings offensive woes have led to back-to-back losses, but adate with the struggling New York Rangers may help them get back on track.

Detroit hopes to avoid being shut out in three straight games for the firsttime in its storied history Monday night when it hosts New York, which has lostfour in a row.

The Red Wings (31-15-6) went scoreless for the second consecutive gameSaturday in a 3-0 loss to Nashville, falling by the same score Friday againstColumbus after scoring a season-high-tying seven goals Wednesday in a win atOttawa. Detroit was shut out in two straight games twice last season butresponded with a victory in both instances.

The offense may get a boost Monday, with forwards and each nearing a return from a broken right hand.

The Red Wings have been shut out three times this season, and theyveoutshot their opponent in each of those games. They last lost three straightDec. 4-8.

We were chasing. We were behind again, captain saidSaturday. When were chasing, were shooting the puck a lot more. Thatssomething we want to do earlier in the game.

Detroit went 0 for 4 on the power play against the Predators and is now 2for 28 with the man advantage over the last nine games. Detroit also allowed ashort-handed goal late in the second period.

If you look at the specialty teams, they won the battle, coach MikeBabcock said.

made 26 saves Saturday but fell to 1-3-1 when giving regularstarter a rest. Howard won the only start of his career against theRangers, making 28 saves in a 3-1 victory Dec. 6, 2009.

That was the last time the teams met, and it marked Detroits 13th victoryin the last 15 matchups against its Original Six rival - including the fourth ina row.

New York (29-22-4) hopes to avoid its first five-game overall losing streaksince Jan. 21-30, 2010. Coach John Tortorella benched goaltender - who gave up 10 goals in his last three starts - in favor of for Saturdays game, but the offense let him down in a 2-0 loss atMontreal.

The Rangers went 0 for 4 on the power play and are just 1 for 35 with theman advantage in their last 11 road games.

Obviously with the score, it could have gone either way, Tortorella said.They end up scoring a goal, we dont capitalize on some chances, and our powerplay doesnt work. Thats why they win.

Tortorella praised Biron after publicly calling out Lundqvist earlier in theweek for his recent poor play. Biron stopped 27 of 28 shots and has allowed onlytwo goals in his last 180 minutes in net.

However, neither he nor Lundqvist has been very successful against the RedWings. Biron is 1-2-0 with a 3.25 goals-against average in four careerappearances, while Lundqvist is 0-3-1 with a 3.78 GAA lifetime against Detroit.

The Red Wings have won nine of the last 10 meetings in Detroit, includingfive in a row since a 3-2 defeat Jan. 30, 1999.


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