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Painter thinks Buffalo will provide a "challenge"

When Purdue couldn't find an opponent for the Wooden Tradition, it had to do some tinkering.

The Boilermakers moved their home game with Ball State, which finishes up a two-for-one contract, to fill the Wooden spot Dec. 19 in Conseco Fieldhouse and were left scrambling to complete their open home game.

Turned out fellow Mid-American Conference member Buffalo was looking for a guarantee game, so the Bulls stepped in to play in Mackey Arena tonight.

No. 4 Purdue (6-0) has never played Buffalo in men's basketball, but the Boilermakers are 47-15 against the Mid-American Conference.

Buffalo (3-2) is 2-15 against the Big Ten and has never beaten a ranked team.

The Bulls have seven seniors, led by guard Rodney Pierce (10.8 ppg). Junior Calvin Betts, who is only 6-foot-4, leads the team in rebounding (7.8 pg).

"I think what jumps out at you is they have experience with some guys returning, and they were able to win away from home last year," Painter said of Buffalo, which is 2-0 on the road this season.

"They always play hard, always going to come at you. That's something for us that we have to be prepared for. They run good offense. They run a couple different things through ball screens, some back cuts, that really put you in a bind and you have to have discipline on defense. If you don't, they will break you down and get layups on their back cuts and out of their ball screen action, they will attack. At times, they put you on defense for long periods of time."

Painter said Buffalo typically plays man-to-man defense but expects to also see some 1-3-1 zone. With Purdue's poor outside shooting of late -- the Boilermakers are making only 27 percent of three-pointers -- it'll be interesting to see if Buffalo opts to play more zone than usual.

It may be the Bulls' only chance.