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Kentucky not on Purdue’s radar; focus is on Cincinnati

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) – It didn’t take long for the reality to set in for Purdue basketball fans Sunday.

If the Boilermakers make it to the Sweet 16, they’ll have to go through the top overall seed Kentucky Wildcats to get there.

No one is suggesting the Boilermakers will beat the Cincinnati Bearcats, but it’s only natural for fans to look at their team’s potential matchups down the road. If the Boilermakers can get past Cincinnati, it’s nearly a lock that they’ll face Kentucky. A No 16 seed has ever beaten a No. 1 seed, and that trend likely won’t be broken with the 34-0 Wildcats.

As much as the fans may look forward to a potential matchup with Kentucky, coach Matt Painter and company have their full attention on Cincinnati.

“We’ve really had to battle to get to this point and to be able to look past anybody who’s in the NCAA Tournament would be a real immature way to approach things.” Painter said.

Fortunately for coach Painter, he doesn’t have much to worry about. The maturity of his team hasn’t been in question at any point this season, even with four freshman and three sophomores playing significant roles.

“I mean, of course, it’s on your mind, but I mean you can’t overlook any game,” sophomore guard Kendall Stephens said. “Cincinnati’s a great team, and that’s what we’re focusing on right now.”

Freshman guard Dakota Mathias was also focusing on Cincinnati.

“You know, it’s very exciting seeing all those good teams in there, all the historic programs you always watch growing up. But you know, like I said, Cincinnati’s a very good team and we got to take care of business,” Mathias said.

Freshman center Isaac Haas said we have to get through the first game before we can start thinking about the next game.

“We’re really not focusing on Kentucky, right now,” Haas said. “We’re really focusing only on Cincinnati. You know, we have no ties from that game yet; and we’re just really trying to focus on getting this first win because you can’t play the second team if you don’t beat the first team.”

Message received. Don’t expect Purdue to overlook Thursday’s opponent.