I am aware of the facts going into tonight's contest. I know that Indiana played us to a three-point game in Bloomington last season. I am aware it is a rivalry game, and they will be ready for it. I am aware the Jim Burr may be there, turning the Hall of Calls even more against us. I am also aware that, as much as I don't want this to happen, the Hoosiers won't be this bad forever.
I don't care though. This the last game in the series for JaJuan Johnson and E`Twaun Moore. I want to send them off with a 6-1 record against the Hoosiers, a five game winning streak, and an unmerciful beating on their home floor to remember JJ and E`Twaun by. We are given so few chances in our lives to simply vent over an overmatched Indiana team. Most of the time, the teams are fairly close to even, with swings in each direction. Right now the advantage is in our favor, and I want to exercise it to its fullest tonight. Something about blowing Indiana out, even a bad Indiana team such as this one, on their own floor would be so satisfying temporarily before we get on to bigger goals.
That said, I don't think we're going to get our wish tonight. I have been concerned for this game for awhile because they played us so close in Bloomington last year when we had Robbie Hummel and they were probably a worse team. They stayed relatively close in West Lafayette even without Christian Watford, who will play tonight. Mostly I am concerned because this is their season. If they lose this game it is highly possible they won't win another game this season. They are going nowhere this year, so they would love to pee on our proverbial parade and, in general, make us miserable.
2009-10 record: 10-21, 4-14 Big Ten
2010-11 record: 12-15, 3-11 Big Ten
Series with Purdue: Purdue leads 111-84
Last Purdue win: 2/8/11 at Purdue 67-53
Last Indiana win: 2/19/08 at Indiana 77-68
Time & TV: 8:30pm Big Ten Network
|Verdell Jones III||23||27.3||4.6||9.8||46.5||0.6||1.7||32.5||2.8||4.1||67.4||0.4||2.7||3.0||3.4||3.3||1.0||0.3||2.3||12.5|
The last game was played on JJ's birthday, while this one is played two days before E`Twaun's birthday, so what better way to celebrate their birthdays than with wins over the Hoosiers. Honestly though, that was about the most interesting thing that came out of the last game. Indiana took a brief four point lead midway through the first half, E`Twaun took over and we pulled ahead with a 13-2 run, then the game stayed in the 7-10 point range for most of the rest of the way. We never really ran away and hid, but Indiana never made a serious run to get back into it. The final margin came from the free throw line.
Will Sheehey was the leading scorer for Indiana last time with 14 points, while Jordan Hulls was more known for his minor incident with Kelsey Barlow than his 13 points. We held Indiana to 35% shooting, and if we do so again we should win easily tonight.
The gameplan should be the same as last time. We should concentrate on getting the ball to JJ and daring them to stop him. Tom Pritchard is their only serviceable post player, and that is a stretch in calling him serviceable. He has scored in double-figures in Big Ten play twice in the last two years, and once was last year's game in Bloomington. There is no excuse for JJ to not thoroughly dominate him on both ends of the floor.
The biggest disappointment for Indiana is their inability to defend. John from Crimson Quarry talked about Jeremiah Rivers being a lockdown defender, but he has been nothing of the sort of late, plus he is virtually a liability on offense. Indiana's most productive player is Victor Oladipo, who averages nearly eight points per game in just 17 minutes. He also has produced Indiana's only Gus Johnson-gasm on the Big Ten Network this season.
Much of this game will hinge on how we defend Watford. Verdell Jones III is a streaky shooter, but Watford has been Indiana's most consistent scorer at 16.6 per game. He can get out on the perimeter as well as score in the paint. He's also probably Indiana's best rebounder. Since returning from injury he has scored 14 and 11, so it is not affecting him much. He had a 30 point game at Iowa, which would have been great if Indiana hadn't given up 91.
Ultimately, that has been Indiana's biggest problem. In the games they defend they have a chance, but they gave up 91 at Iowa, 93 at Northwestern, and 88 at Boston College. They defend better at home, but Northwestern continuously burned them Saturday night. That inability to defend against Northwestern has killed their confidence according to John at Crimson Quarry:
It's only been two weeks since Indiana and Purdue met at Mackey Arena, but the landscape has changed a bit. IU's struggles are well-known here. In my preview of the first IU-Purdue game, I mentioned that while Purdue was having a good season, it wasn't yet clear if the Boilermakers were going to be a nice NCAA-bound team or if they had something more in store. After their last three games, it looks like the latter. Purdue played at Illinois and at home against Wisconsin and Ohio State, and won all three comfortably. Purdue is now only a game behind Ohio State for the Big Ten lead, and seems likely to earn a high seed in the NCAA Tournament. Of course, all of that could change if IU manages to pull the upset, but nothing in the way that either team is playing right now suggests that an IU win is much of a possibility.
John goes on to talk about Purdue blogs paying an inordinate amount of attention to the Hoosiers. I have been guilty of this earlier in the year, but I have tried to cut back as the season progressed. I have talked a lot about them this week because they are our next game, but after tonight I'll put them to bed like I have Notre Dame football (and my raw, seething hatred of Notre Dame football is 100 times greater and more personal). I consider it a lesson learned that I should be more concerned with what's going on here, especially since we're going somewhere and Indiana isn't this year. If Indiana fans are concerned with us gawking at the train wreck that their program has become, then so be it. I'll at least (publically) look away, but it is hard to not make jokes when their coach is whining about a 36 hour turnaround that no one else would whine about.
This game just feels like one that is going to be closer than it should be. That is, of course, because of the rivalry factor. It has a way of evening the playing field more than anything else. We have nothing to gain in this except a victory in the conference standings. A win is expected, while a loss has the double-impact of being a bad loss on our NCAA profile and it would add fuel to the taunting fire.
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