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Purdue gets another chance at Sweet 16

Lewis Jackson compared Texas A&M to Michigan State.

And that's a good thing, he said.

Purdue is familiar with the Spartans' style of defense, a hard-nosed, man-to-man capped with a strong rebounding effort.

That's what the Boilermakers are expecting from the Aggies today. Although, statistically, Texas A&M isn't even close to the rebounding team Michigan State is. The Spartans are second in the nation with a 9.0 rebounding margin, and A&M is 99th at just over plus-two per game, according to the latest NCAA statistics.

Still, A&M does have some size along its front line, and that could be the biggest issue for Purdue to compete rebounding. Giving up several inches at most positions means the Boilermakers will have to focus on boxing out hard and chasing down long rebounds. They must get all of the "50-50" balls, the loose ones that usually are about hustle.

Purdue has shown that grit and effort at points. But at other times, it hasn't. One would think with the season -- and some careers -- on the line, lack of effort wouldn't be a problem. But you'd also think it'd never be a problem with as limited amount of games in each season.

There are so many keys and interesting match-ups today. So it's hard to pick one. But I'm interested to see how Keaton Grant fares against Donald Sloan, A&M's leading scorer at 18 points per game. And then if Grant is chasing Sloan all over the court, how does that affect Grant's shooting, which is sporadic at best this season.

As Purdue players and coaches say, the most important issues are defense and rebounding.

But with A&M expected to play all man-to-man, the Boilermakers should get some good looks in their motion offense. Maybe that's what it will take to get E'Twaun Moore going -- if he's able to use that high screen with JaJuan Johnson to get to the basket and create shots for himself and teammates.

Purdue may have escaped with a victory against Siena with Moore shooting poorly, but I don't think that can happen again. He must come to play on the offensive end.

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