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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, January 28, 2018 3:20 pm

Pregame: Indiana (12-9, 5-4 Big Ten) vs. Purdue (20-2, 9-0)

Dylan Sinn | Journal Gazette

Much of the pregame commentary about today's game has focused on Purdue's tremendous outside shooting, which Indiana's not-so-elite perimeter defense will have to have find a way to contain.

Not as much attention has been paid to the other side of the court, when Indiana has the ball. What makes Purdue one of the best teams in the country is that it is elite on both offense and defense. The Boilermakers rank seventh in the country in opponent's field goal percentage, holding teams to just 38.7 percent shooting from the floor. Thirteen of Purdue's 22 opponents have shot under 40 percent this season.

The Hoosiers have been held below 40 percent just once this year, although that came last week against Michigan State, when they converted at a dismal 33.9 percent. Since then, Indiana has hit 50 percent of its shots or better in two straight games, including a 56.8 percent performance against Illinois that was a season-best (it was poor free-throw shooting and turnovers that doomed Indiana against the Illini).

Purdue, meanwhile, comes off a game in which its defense looked anything but elite. It escaped with a win against Michigan, but the Wolverines shot better than 60 percent and went 13 of 23 from beyond the 3-point line. The Maize and Blue made some tough shots, but it also had plenty of open looks.

Boilers coach Matt Painter admitted as much Saturday.

"We had some breakdowns, we gambled too much," he said of his team's defensive performance. "We should have done a better job of containing the dribble."

Guard Muhammad-Ali Abdur-Rahkman had a huge game, scoring 26 points on 10 for 15 from the field. If Robert Johnson (or maybe Josh Newkirk) can get going early in a similar way, it could open up the lane for Juwan Morgan to make some plays. The question is whether Purdue has corrected some of the issues that surfaced against Michigan. If not, Indiana could make some noise with a good shooting performance.

Keep an eye on: How well Indiana moves the ball early. The Hoosiers have had some games this year where they have whipped the ball around the arc crisply, but they've also had some games (like against Michigan State) where the spacing wasn't as good and the offense has stagnated. If Indiana moves the ball well, it could draw the Boilermakers into gambling as they did against Michigan. If not, ell, Purdue leads the nation in average scoring margin for a reason.