Indiana handled Purdue in the teams’ first meeting this season. The Hoosiers won that game at 78-61 on Feb. 4 at Mackey Arena, the first time the current Indiana seniors had beaten their in-state rival.
Since that game, though, the Boilermakers have played their best basketball of the year. They nearly beat Ohio State in Columbus on Feb. 7, and they’ve won five of their last six games — including three straight. Purdue handed Michigan its first home loss of the season last week with a 14-point win.
If the No. 18 Hoosiers (23-7, 10-7) want to sweep the Boilermakers (20-10, 10-7) on senior day at Assembly Hall on Sunday, they know they’re going to have to fight for it.
“We need to bring it at that level with a high edge, and we fully expect they will,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “You could put them up as one of the better teams in the country the last few weeks with the way that they’re playing. … The thing that scares me the most in this game is the way they create extra possessions.”
Purdue’s last three wins have come without Kelsey Barlow, who was dismissed from the team on Feb. 17. Barlow had 12 points in 26 minutes in the first game against the Hoosiers.
Since Barlow’s departure, Robbie Hummel has picked up the slack. The senior forward is averaging 23.7 points and 9.8 rebounds per game over his last six games. Those numbers are seven points and three rebounds more than his season averages.
Coach Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 70-55 win over Michigan State on Tuesday at Assembly Hall. Watch the press conference in high-definition quality video in the embedded media player below:
Tom Crean, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford met with the media following IU’s 69-50 win over Minnesota at Williams Arena on Sunday afternoon. Thanks to our friends at The Hoosier Scoop for the below audio embeds:
We’ve also got some postgame video of Crean after the jump.
When Will Sheehey returned after sitting out five games with a high ankle sprain, it looked like he hardly missed a beat. He was one of Indiana’s most effective players against Minnesota on Jan. 12, scoring 12 points on an efficient 5-of-7 shooting.
But since then, the production hasn’t been the same. Sheehey hasn’t moved as much without the ball, he hasn’t gone to the glass as frequently, and he doesn’t seem to have the same explosiveness he had before the injury.
That was until Wednesday against North Carolina Central.
Sheehey had 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and added seven rebounds in the No. 23 Hoosiers’ 75-56 win, his most productive offense game in more than a month.
In his previous 10 games, Sheehey scored a total of 56 points on a combined 20-of-50 shooting.
“I’m not 100 percent yet, and you can tell,” Sheehey said. “I try to jump off one foot, and it’s pretty ugly. I’m just trying to get back and play a part on the defensive side first. The rest will come.”
WATFORD’S SHOOTING SLUMP CONTINUES
Christian Watford hit the biggest shot of the year for Indiana when he made a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to beat No. 1 Kentucky.
Lately, though, Watford is struggling to hit any shot at all.
The junior forward is in the middle of his worst slump of the season, having scored in double figures only twice in the last six games. Watford was 0-of-8 and scored only two points against North Carolina Central, and he’s made only 4-of-24 shots in the last three games. He’s scored a combined three points on 0-of-13 shooting in the last two.
Indiana coach Tom Crean said he isn’t worried about Watford’s struggles, pointing to the fact he has had a positive impact on the defensive end.
Coach Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 75-56 win over North Carolina Central at Assembly Hall. Watch the press conference in high-definition quality video in the embedded media player below:
Indiana seemed to be out of sorts Sunday in Iowa City.
The Hoosiers wasted possessions with careless turnovers, missed free throws in bunches, and scored only 66 points against the same team they put 103 on just three weeks earlier.
But even through their struggles, Indiana coach Tom Crean believed his team would come back. He said the loss to the Hawkeyes had nothing to do with his players letting off the gas after getting to the 20-win plateau against Northwestern.
“We never saw any of that in practice, we never saw any of that in preparation,” Crean said Tuesday. “We got off to a decent start to the game. We just turned the ball over, and then we were back on our heels.
“Even when the game got cut to 10, I still felt like we were going to win. But we made some mistakes. We made a couple mistakes on [Matt] Gatens. We were supposed to switch, we have our hands down, we misplay the screens — that’s nine points right there. You can’t do that when momentum is up for grabs.”
Gatens scored a career-high 30 points against the Hoosiers, and hit four consecutive 3-pointers during one stretch in the second half to put the game away. Most of Gatens 3s were uncontested looks when Indiana players got caught behind screens. It simply didn’t look like the same defense the Hoosiers have played at times this season.
Which prompted the question: Are the players fatigued?