Publish Date: 01/18/2019
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
Where: Mackey Arena, West Lafayette, Indiana
When: 2:00 PM ET
How to watch: Fox (Gus Johnson, Jim Jackson, Andy Katz)
The Indiana Hoosiers (12-5, 3-3) will look to snap a three-game losing streak on Saturday when they travel to West Lafayette to take on the Purdue Boilermakers (11-6, 4-2).
Indiana will kick off a tough stretch that includes 4 of their next 5 games on the road, and it couldn’t have come at a worse moment for the Hoosiers; after starting 3-0 in the Big Ten, Indiana has dropped three consecutive games and could be in danger of extending that streak.
The Hoosiers are catching Purdue at the wrong time, as the Boilermakers have won 5 of their last 6 contests and have finally started to develop a rhythm after a difficult start to the season. Mackey Arena is a tough place to play and the Hoosiers have struggled on the road so far this season, racking up just a 1-4 record.
When talking about Purdue, the first name that must come up is Carsen Edwards. Edwards is a legitimate player of the year candidate and leads the Big Ten in scoring at 24.9 per game. Edwards also has the second highest usage rate in the conference at 33.9%, trailing only Wisconsin’s Ethan Happ. Purdue is going to run their offense early and often through Edwards, and Indiana must find a way to contain him.
Joining Edwards in the backcourt is Carmel native Ryan Cline, who is the only other Boilermaker to average double figures. Cline has finally gotten an opportunity for significant playing time, and the Senior Wing is now averaging a career-high in most statistical categories. Cline is also a deadly shooter, knocking down 40.9% of his attempts from behind the arc. Cline attempts nearly eight three-pointers a game and 75% of his total field goal attempts have come from behind the arc, so it will be crucial for the Hoosiers to stay with Cline on the perimeter, and not let him get comfortable shooting the ball.
Rounding out the backcourt for Purdue is Sophomore Guard Nojel Eastern. Eastern is not a particularly dangerous offensive player, and he often struggles to score from anywhere outside of the paint. However, he has good size at 6-foot-6 and can overpower defenders to get to the rim. He is also an elite defensive player and could cause trouble for Romeo Langford on the other end.
Grady Eifert gets the nod for Purdue at the four spot and contributes 4.8 points along with 5.0 rebounds per game. Eifert is also a dangerous shooter for the Boilermakers, knocking down 41.9% of his shots from behind the arc. Joining Eifert in the frontcourt is typically Evan Boudreaux, who contributes 7.5 points and 4.4 rebounds per game, but a back injury has caused his status for Saturday to be up in the air. Boudreaux has missed each of the last two games after exiting the Michigan State game early.
In Boudreaux’s absence, redshirt freshmen Big Man Trevion Williams has stepped up and been one of Purdue’s most important players over the last three games. Williams has good size at 6-foot-9 and 280 pounds and has averaged 12.7 points and 12 rebounds over the last three contests. Purdue will also bring in the 7-foot-3 Matt Haarms off the bench and his size could cause issues for the Hoosiers, especially on the defensive end. Haarms leads the Big Ten in block percentage, and his size and length have made it difficult for teams to finish at the rim.
As a team, there are a couple of important areas to look at coming into the game. Most important is the Indiana defensive rebounding against Purdue’s offensive rebounding. Purdue is currently 2nd in the Big Ten in offensive rebounding percentage at 35.9%, with the Hoosiers ranking near the bottom in the conference at defensive rebounding percentage, sitting at just 33.8%. Indiana struggles mightily at finishing off defensive possessions, and it could be a long afternoon if the Hoosiers let Purdue rack up bonus opportunities on the offensive end.
Another concerning statistic is the Purdue defense ability to force turnovers. The Boilermakers currently rank 1st in the Big Ten, causing turnovers on 23.1% of opponent’s possessions. Indiana has struggled at times to protect the ball and are just 9th in the Big Ten in turnovers per game, coughing it up on 17.9% of their own possessions.
Indiana will have their work cut out for them on Saturday afternoon, and Mackey Arena is one of the toughest venues to play at in the Big Ten. Purdue has played well of late, and Indiana is going through their worst stretch of the season to date. The Hoosiers will need to find a way to gain some momentum but wins on the road in a rivalry game are never easy to come by.