The Indiana basketball program heads back home as Purdue visits Assembly Hall during rivalry week, with the Hoosiers looking to get back in the win column.
It has been another up-and-down season for Indiana basketball, with many highs – beating Florida State and Michigan State – but also many lows – getting blown out by Wisconsin, Penn State, and Maryland. Now, the Hoosiers are faced with a rival coming to town that they haven’t beaten since the 2015-16 season.
With a must-win game this weekend against Purdue, Indiana looks to get back on track and avoid a four-game skid at the most inopportune time. When most teams look to be playing their best basketball of the season, Indiana looks to avoid playing its worst.
Purdue comes into Assembly Hall after one of the most lopsided wins in all of college basketball this season, beating No. 17 Iowa 104-68 on Wednesday night. While Mackey Arena has been very kind to the Boilermakers, 15+ point wins over Virginia, Michigan State, Wisconsin and now Iowa, going on the road have been anything but kind for Matt Painter’s squad.
Sitting at 13-10 (6-6) on the season, Purdue is just 1-5 on the road in the Big Ten up to this point. With Indiana sitting at 4-1 at home in conference play, its margin of victory has been just an average of 6.5 points in the four wins.
Purdue is led by sophomore big Trevion Williams who has taken a huge step up in production and consistency from a season ago. After scoring in double-digits this year just once before Big Ten play, Williams has reached at least 10 points seven times in conference play, including a tremendous 36-point and 20-rebound night against Michigan earlier this year.
With Williams being the lone inside presence, outside of an occasional showing from Matt Haarms, Purdue looks for a lot of the scoring from its wings. Shooting 34.8 percent as a team from three, the Boilermakers are coming off of an incredible 19-of-34 showing from deep in which five players made at least two threes.
The other steadying force for Purdue is Eric Hunter Jr who is second on the team in scoring. While he has been more of an off ballplayer for the majority of the season, he has nine games with at least four assists.
One player that can get hot in a hurry is Sasha Stefanovic. With 15 games of at least two threes, he has made four or more five times. Since being inserted into the starting lineup during Big Ten play, he has helped spread the floor with another shooter for the defense to keep an eye on instead of double-teaming Williams.
Jahaad Proctor seems to be the game-changer for the Boilermakers, however. After scoring in double-figures in 10 of his first 11 games of the season, he went the next nine games not scoring in double-digits. In his last three games though, Proctor is averaging 14.3 points per game while shooting 60 percent from the field.
Indiana has lost three in a row and is in desperate need of a win; good thing it’s at Assembly Hall. Which guard(s) will step up and be the consistent piece to the puzzle? If IU can get Trevion Williams in foul trouble early, it could cause fits for Purdue. Indiana’s offense NEEDS to run through Trayce Jackson-Davis and the guards have to make it a priority to get him the ball.
Purdue has been able to pick up significant wins at home, but have struggled on the road this year, can it change on Saturday? Five players average more than nine points per game, but can they find that go-to player when big plays are needed? Trevion Williams needs to stay out of foul trouble if Purdue wants a chance to win. Can Purdue hit enough threes to shoot Indiana out of the game? That could be the only chance, with Purdue ranking 12th in the Big Ten in ppg (68.8).
Trayce Jackson-Davis (13.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg), Justin Smith (11.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg), Devonte Green (10.6 ppg, 35.9% 3pt), Al Durham (9.9 ppg, 35.9% 3pt)
Trevion Williams (11.2 ppg, 7.4 rpg), Eric Hunter Jr (10.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 39.3% 3pt), Matt Haarms (9.7 ppg, 4.8 rpg), Jahaad Proctor (9.6 ppg, 2.3 rpg)