Yogi Ferrell (21 points, five rebounds and four assists), James Blackmon Jr. (14 points) and Troy Williams (14 points, seven rebounds and three assists) met with the media following Indiana’s 67-63 loss to Purdue on Thursday night at Assembly Hall.
It was just over three weeks ago that Indiana was blown out by Purdue inside a frenzied Mackey Arena.
The Hoosiers couldn’t find the net. They couldn’t stop the Boilermakers from scoring. They left West Lafayette with an 83-67 loss.
Tonight at 7, Indiana (18-8, 8-5) will get its rivalry rematch with Purdue (17-9, 9-4). And this time, it will be inside the friendly confines of Assembly Hall, in which the Hoosiers are 15-1 this season.
“We’ve got great respect for them and know what the rivalry is,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said on Wednesday. “And it wouldn’t be that way if over a period of time the two teams perennially hadn’t been good. So it comes down to how we execute tomorrow night and how we deal with the pressure.”
There were plenty of lessons to be learned in that 16-point loss at Purdue. In that game, the Hoosiers’ focus on getting to the paint was detrimental — 10 of their shots were blocked and they had 11 turnovers — and shots just were not falling. They shot below 50 percent on 2s. Their 4-for-19 mark from 3 was the second-lowest rate of the season.
Much of that, Crean said, came from Purdue’s defensive pressure — which stems from its physicality and size, including 7-footers A.J. Hammons and Isaac Haas. He also noted on Wednesday that in that game the Hoosiers looked to drive far too often instead of relying on quick ball movement, spreading the floor and exploiting match-ups.
Indiana will look for its ninth conference win on Thursday night when it welcomes Purdue to Assembly Hall for the first time since 2013. The Boilermakers are 17-9 overall and 9-4 in Big Ten play.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET with Rece Davis, LaPhonso Ellis and Seth Greenburg on the call:
As we wrote in the preview for the first Indiana-Purdue game this season back in late January, the rivalry has failed to produce much drama in recent seasons. The Boilermakers have won the last two meetings between the two teams handily and prior to that, Indiana beat Purdue four straight times by double figures.
Still, it’s a game that fans on both sides look forward to and Thursday night’s tilt will be no different with both teams fighting for positioning in the Big Ten standings and NCAA tournament bids.
Purdue sits in a three-way tie for second place in the league standings, but still has plenty of work to do make the tournament due to a shaky non-conference record that included losses to Gardner-Webb and North Florida. And with road trips to Columbus and East Lansing still to go, Thursday’s tilt at Assembly Hall looms large. Indiana is just a game behind the Boilermakers, Maryland and Michigan State and is playing to move up in the standings and potentially grab a double bye in the Big Ten tournament.