Indiana men’s basketball took a step back Wednesday night losing on the road at last place Illinois 73-71. With the lead early, IU faltered in the second half in large part due to poor free throw shooting while also turning the ball over 18 times against the Illini.
But now, it’s time to move on to Purdue.
The Boilermakers are the best team in the Big Ten right now by a wide margin. Winners of 16 straight, Purdue is undefeated in the conference and ranked No. 3 in the nation.
Does Indiana have a chance? Slightly, but that’s only because they’re in Assembly Hall. It’s going to take some major adjustments for the Hoosiers to take down the Boilermakers Sunday afternoon.
Here’s what to watch for…
Purdue Has Size, Indiana Doesn’t
How will Indiana guard two Purdue players over 7-foot-2? That’s a major question for the Hoosiers Sunday with an undersized frontcourt going up against the Boilermaker big men of Isaac Haas and Matt Haarms.
Haas starts while Haarms comes off the bench and replaces him; the two combine to score 20 points and four blocks a game. The 7-foot duo split minutes putting at least one of them on the floor for 40 minutes. So how does Archie Miller plan on trying to stop them while they’re on the floor?
“It starts in the post with them with Haas and anyone who plays them in the 22 minutes that he plays, you’re getting a dose,” Miller said. “For us, I don’t think there’s any secrets. The size differential, I think the power ball that they’re going to be able to play is something they’re going to be able to go to.”
Indiana would still be undersized against the Purdue even if De’Ron Davis were healthy. But without Davis, Indiana’s tallest player who gets significant minutes is 6-foot-8 Juwan Morgan. Miller said they’re going to have to deal with the mismatch all game long, but it’s not just about that for him.
“For us it’s about how hard are we willing to play,” Miller said. “How many guys do we have willing to compete through the 40 minutes and find a way to claw around and get yourself in a situation where you have a chance to be successful.”
Purdue Lets The 3 Ball Fly
Purdue is the best 3-point shooting team in the country. Indiana is the worst 3-point defending team in the Big Ten and one of the worst in the entire nation. Yikes.
The Boilermakers are shooting 44-percent from beyond the arc as a team while Indiana has let opponents shoot 38-percent from deep this season.
With Purdue being able to work the ball inside out with Haas and then finding an open look with any of the other four players on the court, Miller said you have to pick your poison with how you guard them.
“They’re shooting at an unprecedented level right now, and I don’t see it slowing down a whole lot,” Miller said. “They’re running efficient offense, they’re getting great looks, they play right off the post with the big fella and when you look at the numbers that they have from different guys, it’s staggering. If they continue to shoot the ball like this, they’re going to be hard to beat.”
Boilers Lock Down on Defense
Not only is Purdue terrific offensively, but they’re also one of the best in the country on defense too.
The Boilermakers are third in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency according to KenPom scoring 1.23 points per possession, but they’re also ninth in the country in adjusted defensive efficiency allowing just 0.91 points per possession.
Purdue's scoring margin of +21.7 is the best in the nation.
“As much as you want to talk about those guys shooting, as much as you want to talk about their size, the other thing is how tough it is to score,” Miller said. “They have a great defensive scheme, they’re Purdue they play tough minded basketball, so you have both ends of the floor you’re worrying about.”