MILWAUKEE – Purdue basketball will tip off against a familiar foe Sunday against Texas in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
Senior guard Marcus Carr, who spent two seasons in the Big Ten Conference with the Minnesota Golden Gophers, elected to transfer during the offseason and joined the Longhorns. He’s now helped guide the program past the first round of March Madness under head coach Chris Beard.
Having experience against Carr will be a welcomed boost for the Boilermakers as they prepare for the upcoming matchup, but they also understand that he’s had another year to develop and finds himself in a new role at Texas.
“Players change, and people get better,” Purdue senior guard Eric Hunter Jr. said. “So just being able to touch up on newer film and also watching the past couple of times that I’ve played him will be important to me. He’s a good player, so it’ll be a tough matchup.”
Before leaving the Big Ten, Carr averaged 19.4 points, 4.9 assists and four rebounds per game in two seasons with Minnesota. He shot 38.5% from the floor, nearly 80% from the free-throw line and 31.7% from the 3-point range.
He joined an athletic roster that prides itself on the defensive end of the floor. Texas has allowed just 60 points per game on the season, and Carr is among the six senior guards on the team.
“They have big, physical guards with a lot of experience,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “They’ve been in a lot of big-time games. And their ability to not have to help all the time, you know, when they do have to help they’re great at it.
“They really do a great job of swarming the basketball, but they’re not in constant help. When you’re constantly in help as a team, you’re going to get in trouble with good offensive teams. They do a good job of just guarding the basketball and making it really difficult. ”
With the Golden Gophers, Carr led the team in minutes played in both the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons. As a sophomore, he distributed the basketball with high efficiency, recording 6.7 assists per game and was the team’s third-leading scorer.
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But after the departure of center Daniel Oturu, Carr handled a much bigger load as Minnesota’s primary option on the offensive end of the court. His scoring jumped to a team-high 19.4 points per game while also averaging 4.9 assists per contest.
With Texas, he’s back to focusing on how he can get his teammates involved on the floor. Carr has posted 11 points per game, which is still third on the team, but he dishes out 3.3 assists per game to lead the group.
“I think now he’s more of a patient player,” Hunter said. That comes with the nature of going to a different program. At Minnesota, he was asked a lot of him to make plays, put the ball in the basket. And now he does a little bit more playmaking than usual, but he definitely put the ball in the basket whenever he wants to. “
Even if scoring isn’t his primary role for Texas, Carr can still put the ball through the net at a high rate. He was one of five players to score in double figures during the team’s 81-73 victory over Virginia Tech in the first round of the NCAA Tournament.
Carr posted 15 points on 6-11 shooting, which included a 3-5 mark from the 3-point line. At the same time, he recorded a team-high nine assists in the win.
In his two years with Minnesota, Carr faced off against Purdue three times, including a 71-68 victory last season in Minneapolis when he scored 19 points. He also pushed the two programs into a game that ended double-overtime two seasons ago, recording 27 before coming up short.
“We know how dangerous he is. He’s a very good guard,” Painter said. “He’s gotten the best of us a couple of times, and we have a lot of respect for him. Eric has guarded him and some of our other guys have guarded him, too. And I think they would say the same thing.
“You just have to work hard. Anytime you face great players, you have to work hard and make them earn it. And he’s one of those guys that can make difficult shots and difficult plays, especially in crunch time.”
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