Fifth-ranked Purdue will look to avenge the loss that recently put the Boilermakers in a tailspin when they host their rivals, No. 17 Indiana, on Saturday night in West Lafayette, Ind.
The Hoosiers (19-9, 10-7 Big Ten) beat then-No. 1 Purdue 79-74 on Feb. 4 in Bloomington, Ind. It was the first in a stretch of three losses in four games for the Boilermakers (24-4, 13-4) and second consecutive time Indiana beat its state rival.
The Hoosiers had never played Purdue with the Boilermakers ranked No. 1 and it was their first win against a top-ranked team in 10 years.
But since then, Indiana has been the team struggling as it vies for one of the higher seeds in the upcoming Big Ten tournament.
The Hoosiers have dropped two of their past three and were thoroughly outplayed during an 80-65 loss at Michigan State on Tuesday night.
Trayce Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers with 19 points, seven rebounds and five assists, but Indiana fell behind late in the first half and trailed by double-digits for most of the second half.
“As the game wore on, they smashed us and I don’t like that,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said after the game.
Woodson called his defense “nonexistent” against the Spartans as they gave up 20-plus points each to Michigan State guards Tyson Walker (23) and A.J. Hoggard (22). The Hoosiers will need the results on that end to improve to reflect what they were against Purdue the first time.
The matchup between Jackson-Davis and Purdue star center Zach Edey lived up to the hype in the first meeting, with Jackson-Davis scoring 25 points and Edey finishing with 33 points and 18 rebounds.
But it was Indiana’s defense contributing to the Boilermakers turning the ball over 16 times that ultimately tipped the outcome in its favor — something that didn’t happen against Michigan State.
“I just thought we didn’t control the ball, something we’ve been pretty good at,” Woodson said about his defense against Michigan State. “I thought their guards had their way against our guards.”
Guard play was vital for the Boilermakers as they were able to reverse their recent struggles a bit with a more efficient 82-55 victory over Ohio State this past Sunday.
Purdue basically got more from its backcourt and were more than just Edey on the offensive end.
David Jenkins Jr., Brandon Newman, Fletcher Loyer and Ethan Morton combined to go 7 for 16 from 3-point range to complement Edey’s 26 points and 11 rebounds. Mason Gillis was a rebounding force — with 10 — to go along with seven points.
“For me to like, literally just do anything on offense helps us as the last guy,” Morton said. “So it feels good to make shots. I just have to continue to be aggressive, cut down on the turnovers and just make simple plays.”
Purdue’s balance was on full display against the Buckeyes in the second half when it ballooned a nine-point halftime lead into a 31-point lead. The key now will be to carry that same effectiveness over to games against tougher competition.
“Those first five minutes are something that we’ve always thought are very important in both halves,” Edey said. “Just coming out and setting the tone.”
–Field Level Media