On Sunday at 6:00 ET, the 20th-ranked Indiana Hoosiers (23-7, 10-7) close out the regular season when they host the Purdue Boilermakers (20-10, 10-7) on the Big Ten Network.
As always, Jerod, Ryan, and Andy will be here with another episode of The Assembly Call after the game, though this episode will come after Indiana’s seniors give their speeches following the game.
- Date: Sunday, March 4th
- Time: 6:00 ET, 5:00 CT
- TV: BTN
- Announcers: Gus Johnson and Gary Williams
- Point Spread:
- KenPom Prediction: Indiana 78-70 with a 76% chance of winning
- Peegs: IU Gameday
- Inside the Hall
- IU-Purdue live tweet coverage: @AssemblyCall
- Assembly Call IU Postgame Show: http://assemblycall.com/live
The Boilermakers come in having won three straight games and five of their last six. On Wednesday, Robbie Hummel played his last game in Mackey Arena, as Purdue defeated Penn State by 24 points. Hummel turned in an outstanding performance with 26 points, eight rebounds, and six assists, while D.J. Byrd and Terone Johnson continued their solid play with 14 and 13 points, respectively.
Following the dismissal of Kelsey Barlow, Purdue has been playing some of their best basketball, and guard Ryne Smith’s proclamation that it would be “addition by subtraction” seems to be coming true. In his absence, sophomore Terone Johnson, who was starting to play better even before Barlow was dismissed, has really ramped up his production. Over the last three games, he is averaging 15.3 points and has made 72.0 percent from the field. The Hoosiers will need to find a way to contain him off the dribble.
Byrd, who was suspended one game following an arrest for public intoxication, has also become a consistent contributor over the course of the last month. In the last eight games, he has scored 15.0 points per game while knocking down 27-of-53 (50.9%) from beyond the arc. Lewis Jackson has also continued his strong play at the point, dishing out 33 assists in the last six games, and fellow senior Ryne Smith is a dangerous long-range shooter if left alone.
As well as those guys have played, Hummel has outperformed them all.
The veteran forward has averaged 23.7 points, 9.8 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks over the last six games, and while Indiana fans are conditioned to despise all things Purdue, it’s hard not to root for Hummel after all he’s been through during his career. He had one of his worst shooting games in the first meeting between these two teams, going just 4-of-14 from the field. Based on his recent play, don’t expect a repeat performance of that. Christian Watford seems likely to draw the defensive assignment, but based on how he’s been used lately, don’t be surprised if Victor Oladipo also matches up with Hummel in this one.
In the first matchup between these two squads, the Hoosiers held Purdue to under 30 percent shooting from the field, outrebounded the Boilers by 14, and pulled away late to win by 17 points. IU didn’t shoot the ball all that well either, but an aggressive attack led to 35 free throw attempts, 29 of which they converted.
The Boilers rank second in the adjusted offensive efficiency in Big Ten play, thanks in large part to a paltry 12.5 turnover rate. In fact, they turned the ball over just three times in the first meeting. They are in the middle of the pack in the other three key factors, but their offensive has played very well since losing to the Hoosiers in West Lafayette. In the seven games since, Purdue has scored at least 1.05 points per possession in six of them and has posted at least 1.30 ppp four times. While IU has been playing much better defensively in recent games, the Boilers should certainly provide another challenge.
While Purdue ranks just eighth in defensive efficiency in league play, they have also improved in that area of late. The Boilers have held three of their last five opponents to 1.00 ppp or less after doing so just twice in the first dozen conference games. Still, they rank seventh of worse in all four factors. Indiana ranks first in free throw rate in league play, which they exploited against Purdue in the first meeting. The Hoosiers also rank first in free throw and three-poiant shooting and are fourth in offensive rebounding percentage, another area where the Boilers have struggled this year.
The Hoosiers played arguably their best game of the season on Tuesday night against Michigan State, winning by 15 points in front of a raucous Assembly Hall crowd. Cody Zeller led five Hoosiers in double figures with 18 points, while Christian Watford added 10 points and grabbed a career-high 14 boards. Victor Oladipo’s aggressiveness was critical in the first half, and he continued his strong play with 13 points of his own.
In the first meeting with the Boilers, Oladipo played his first game at the point and responded with 23 points, eight rebounds, and four assists while getting to the line 12 times. That marked the turning point for the IU offense, and including that contest, Oladipo has averaged 15.6 points, 5.7 rebounds over the last seven games while getting to the line 55 times. More than that, his aggressiveness and attitude have really set the tone for the Hoosiers on both ends of the floor.
Zeller was also impressive in the first meeting. He got Purdue’s big men in foul trouble and finished with 11 free throw attempts to go with 16 points and eight rebounds. Over the last nine games, Zeller is averaging 17.2 points and presents a huge matchup issue for the Boilers in this one. Look for the Hoosiers to get him involed early and often.
Junior guard Jordan Hulls was a bit more aggressive against the Spartans and finished with 10 points, including a pair of three-pointers. After slumping for a few games, he has scored in double figures in each of the last two contests and has hit five of his last 10 shots from long range. Fellow junior Watford had also seen his production drop, but he has matched Hulls with 22 points in the last two games. His yeoman’s work on the boards against the Spartans was one of the keys to the game. Watford missed all seven of his shots in the first meeting with Purdue, but I expect him to be much more of a factor this time around.
Will Sheehey should round out the starting lineup for IU as he has the last few games, and look for Verdell Jones to provide a spark off the bench. He has excelled in that role in recent games, scoring 32 points, grabbing 13 rebounds, and shooting 16 free throws over the last three games.
The Hoosiers boast the league’s most efficient offense, which should provide a challenge for an improving Purdue defense. IU has scored at least 1.10 ppp in six of the last seven games, and not coincidentally they won all six of those contests. As I mentioned above, the keys for Indiana will be attacking the basket to draw fouls and maintain their top-ranked free throw rate in league play, as well as crashing the offensive boards, both of which they did well against the Boilers at Mackey Arena.
Indiana has also continued to improve defensively and are currently seventh in defensive efficiency after spending a good portion of the conference slate ranked 10th or worse. They have held their last three foes to 0.95 ppp or less, and with the exception of the Iowa game, there haven’t been any massive defensive breakdowns over the last month or so. Against Purdue, they can’t lose track of shooters like Smith and Byrd, and they have to contain Jackson and Terone Johnson off the dribble while forcing Hummel to take contested shots.
This game also marks the final game at Assembly Hall for seniors Kory Barnett, Verdell Jones, Daniel Moore, Tom Pritchard, and Matt Roth. Roth still has a year of eligibility after thanks to a medical redshirt, but the IU official site mentions plans to honor him along with the other seniors, which may allude to the fact that he won’t be back next year. Regardless, these players deserve a ton of credit for sticking it out during the low-point of IU’s storied basketball program. They fought through countless losses and disappointments over the course of their careers, and they stuck it out through circumstances that would have (and did) cause other players to bail. Their contributions to the program simply cannot be understated, and I have no doubt that this year’s success would not have been possible without them. Senior Day is always an emotional one at Assembly Hall, and this one should be especially sweet for this quintet of Hoosiers who will not soon be forgotten.
As has been the case all year, you can expect a spirited home crowd for this one, and I expect the action on the court to be just as intense. If the Hoosiers play as well as they did against Michigan State earlier in the week, particularly on the defensive end, this is a game they should win.
However, Purdue comes into this game playing as well as they have all season, and revenge will certainly be on their minds. There are also seeding impacts in the Big Ten Tournament, but these teams certainly don’t need additional motivation as this heated rivalry is well on its way back to where it belongs.
For the Hoosiers, there are a few keys to the game. On offense, attack the rim, get the ball to Zeller, and crash the glass. On defense, stay home on shooters and contain dribble penetration.
If they can do those things, the five seniors will be rewarded with the send-off they deserve.