Indiana basketball travels to Mackey Arena Saturday afternoon for a clash against Purdue, with hopes of putting its current three-game losing streak to an end.
Archie Miller looks directly at the confidence and the effort his team is playing with on the floor. Something they lacked heavily on Monday in the 15-point loss to Nebraska.
“I think in general we were just bad at everything,” Miller said. “At the same time I do think that we have to get more guys playing in the games. We were fatigued mentally and physically against Nebraska, we weren’t ready and part of that is we have some guys playing a lot of minutes. And we’ve got to get some more guys playing with some confidence.”
Seventeen games into the season, Romeo Langford leads the Hoosiers playing nearly 34 minutes per game with Juwan Morgan behind him at around 30 minutes per contest.
Justin Smith, Al Durham, Devonte Green and Rob Phinisee have all seen the floor for about 25 minutes each time out.
Langford and Morgan are the only two Hoosiers averaging double figures and lead the team in rebounding. Miller wants to get more efficient minutes out of his bench moving forward.
“The hope is obviously that we can get Damezi (Anderson), De’Ron (Davis), Cliff (Moore) and Jake (Forrester) sort of in the mix,” Miller said. “Just looking at some other things in terms of a rebounding perspective where we are struggling right now, I could see us trying to have to play Juwan more with another guy rather than just with Justin all the time.”
Only one Indiana player finished in double digits outside of Langford and Morgan over the last four games. Miller potentially sees Anderson as another shooting asset to bring off the bench.
“I see Damezi being able to start to work in there, Damezi can shoot the ball for us, he’s a big strong kid,” Miller said. “You got to be able to trust these guys and to do it you gotta play them. So for us, we’re trying and we’re definitely looking at different options in terms of making us a deeper team and I think that’ll make us a harder playing team.”
While the offensive struggles outside of Langford and Morgan have been prominent, Indiana has also been sluggish on the defensive end over the last three games. Opponents averaged 72 points per game and shot 45-percent from the field in the losses.
Going up against Purdue and preseason Big Ten player of the year Carsen Edwards will be another daunting task for the Hoosiers defensively. The Boilermakers rank sixth in the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency with Edwards leading the way.
The fire powered Boilermaker offense will be the best Indiana has seen in league play up to this point. In addition to that, since the holiday break, Purdue has been able to get more than just Edwards involved with scoring.
“I just see them really invested in more people playing a bigger role, they have a lot of different guys in there right now, you and old that are contributing and I think that’s really made them better,” Miller said. “It’s not just a one guy show. Carsen is a terrific player, but they have a group that’s playing well together right now and you can tell.”
Indiana brings a rather inexperienced squad into Mackey Arena, as the Hoosiers haven’t beaten the Boilermakers on enemy turf since 2013. Also, in Juwan Morgan’s four-year career, he’s played more games at Rutgers (2) than at Purdue (1).
Miller says the team has to get back to their principles defensively while Zach McRoberts added that they can’t let the raucous Mackey crowd get to them in a heated rivalry game in order to end this three game slide.
“Every environment in the Big Ten is a little hostile, but there’s just something special about Purdue,” McRoberts said. “I think the amount they hate us goes into that. Just being ready for that is going to be good to adjust to quick. Obviously playing on the road is never easy, but we’re looking forward to it.”