The Purdue Boilermakers will take on the Indiana Hoosiers in what will be the 218th game in the series between the two instate rivals. Purdue holds a 125-92 overall advantage in the series while also going 19-8 since the start of the 2008-2009 season. This season, Purdue is working its’ way towards being the overall number one seed in the NCAA Tourney while the Hoosiers are looking to make a late season push into bubble consideration. The Hoosiers have plenty of opportunities with games against #2 Purdue, #55 Northwestern, #57 Nebraska, #15 Wisconsin, and #24 Michigan State in their final eight games. The Hoosiers have a lot to play for but the Boilers may have even more at Mackey Arena.
The Hoosiers are led by third year head coach Mike Woodson who had led the Hoosiers to back to back NCAA Tournament appearances for the first time since Tom Crean in 2015 and 2016. Woodson does hold a 3-2 advantage over Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter but will enter this installment of the series without a true point guard with the injury to Xavier Johnson. Instead, the Hoosiers will rely on senior Trey Galloway and and assortment of other players to get Indiana into their offense.
Instead of a long introduction, let’s just get into ‘The Three Pointer!’
1 | Make Reneau Uncomfortable & Force Him Into Turnovers
Reneau has made a really solid jump from his freshman to sophomore seasons and has seemingly picked up the torch of really good power forward players fro Trayce Jackson-Davis. The 6’9 athletic wing is averaging 16.4 points, 6.2 rebounds, and 2.7 assists per game this season but also averages nearly 3 turnovers per game. That is the highest mark for the Hoosiers and for a team lacking a point guard, more responsibility may fall onto his shoulders at times if their guards cannot handle the pressure that Lance Jones, Braden Smith, Ethan Morton can apply (more on that later).
Reneau has averaged 18.6 over the Hoosiers last five games and that includes a two point game against Iowa that he was limited in due to injury. Plainly put, he is playing his best of the season right now and Purdue will have to do their best to limit his ability to make it harder to defend other players who shouldn’t hurt them. That job is going to befall Mason Gillis and Trey Kaufman-Renn most of the night but may also include Ethan Morton and Cam Heide if Purdue feels more speed and ball pressure is the way to slow him down.
Across the board, Reneau has seen a jump from last year to this but his free throw percentage has dropped significantly from 71.4% to 63.8%. Although not ideal, it may be in Purdue’s best interests to foul him at time to prevent easy buckets to force him to make shots at the foul line as the Hoosiers overall are not a good free throw shooting team. The Hoosiers shoot just 66.5% from the free throw line as a team with starters Gabe Cupps and Trey Galloway joining Reneau in shooting below 66.5%.
2 | Put Pressure on Indiana’s Ball Handlers
With the injury to Indiana’s only really true point guard in Xavier Johnson, Indiana is suffering a bit from ball pressure at times. Now, that doesn’t always mean that pressure needs to result in steals and turnovers because that’s simply not Purdue’s identity (and it likely never will be with Matt Painter at the helm). Indiana has shown some propensity for turnovers throughout the season where they have turned the ball over at least ten times in fourteen different games this season, but Purdue’s identity is built on forcing teams into difficult shots from difficult locations on the floor.
Look for Lance Jones and Ethan Morton to really ramp up the pressure from a full court standpoint, if they are given the opportunity. Jones has been stellar this year at forcing some turnovers when opposing ball handlers get lackadaisical in the backcourt. He also has at least one steal in each of the last six games with a season high of 5 coming against Rutgers on the road. Look for Jones and Morton to speed them up and to grab at least three steals between the two of them.
Purdue should be a bit wary because Indiana will allow their forwards in Mgbako and Reneau to handle the ball more and their size and ability might give Purdue some problems in one on one situations. Those two players have an ability to put the ball on the floor and create their own space and shot, so help side defense for those defenders should be paramount as well.
3 | Go on a Big Run to Make Mackey Unbearable
Head Coach Matt Painter has been very vocal, when his team is on the road, of withstanding those big swings in momentum and not letting an opponent go on a big run. Purdue’s home court advantage has afforded those to the Boilermakers more often times than not this season. At home this season, the Boilers are an astonishing +17.7 on average in scoring margin in the first half of home games and 11.7 overall in all games. That means Purdue is going on at least one big run in the first half and making it incredibly difficult for opponents to keep up in the most hostile environment in college basketball. Those marks are good for second in the country behind Houston. The Boilers second half numbers are much lower at just +3.4 (54th in the country) on average in all games and 6.8 (52nd in the country) in home games.
Indiana’s offense this season has struggled and they rank just 99th in Kenpom in terms of offensive efficiency and struggle to shoot from behind the arc. The Hoosiers struggles behind the arc have been hammered in the media this season but Indiana shoots just 33.1% from behind the arc as a team which ranks them 207th in the country. Typically, when a team struggles to shoot from beyond the arc that team is going to struggle to hit long pull up jumpers and that is where Purdue wants to pressure opponents to hit their shots.
A big time run is in order to make Mackey just an absolute house of horrors for the Hoosiers. If Purdue can go on a run of at least 12-0 early in in the game and close out the half with a double digit lead, the Hoosiers likely don’t have what it takes to claw back on the road.
And 1 | Dominate the Boards
Of all the ways Purdue can completely dominate this game, this may be the most profound. Flat out, Purdue is the best rebounding team in the B1G when accounting for the efficiency and shot making Purdue has had this season. Even with that, Purdue has a rebounding margin of +11.1 while the Hoosiers are just .3 (10th in B1G).
The Hoosiers are a good defensive rebounding team but struggled in the first matchup. Even though the margin was 42-34 for the Boilers, Purdue shot well from the field and that limited their chances on the offensive glass. The Hoosiers were able to grab some offensive rebounds but some of those were simply from bad shots careening off the rim where the offense has an advantage.
Plainly put, this is a mark that Purdue should dominate against most other opponents and it is largely an effort one. That is not something that Purdue appears to have an issue with. The expectation should be a +12 rebounding advantage at home.
Players to Watch
Malik Reneau | #5 | Forward | Sophomore | 6’9 233lb | 16.4 pts, 6.2 reb, 2.7 ast, 37.1% 3pt (13-35)
Reneau has made a huge jump from his freshman to sophomore season and is projected as a solid 2nd round draft pick in the 2024 NBA Draft. The 6’9 forward has a pro ready body and has shown an ability to score at all three levels with a 37.1% stroke from behind the arc. Purdue matches up well with the impressive power forward with Purdue having four legitimate defensive options to throw at a player who will likely see himself as a 2nd Team All B1G.
Kel’el Ware | #1 | Center | Sophomore | 7’ 210lb | 14.8 pts, 9.1 reb, 1.7 ast, 1.6 blk, 42.9% 3pt (12-28)
One of the highest ceiling players in terms of potential for the NBA, Ware made the shift from the PAC 12 to the B1G and showed the strides from his freshman year at Oregon to Indiana. The 7’ center might be of slight build but he is a good shot blocker who can slide over from the weakside to wipe away shots at the rim. On a decent amount of attempts, Ware has connected on 42.9% of 3pt attempts but Ware taking those shots is typically a win for the Purdue defense.
Trey Galloway | #32 | Guard | Senior | 6’4 200lb | 11.1 pts, 2.6 reb, 3.9 ast, 29.6% 3pt
If there was one guy I would want to add to Purdue’s roster from the Hoosiers, this is the guy. Although he doesn’t light it up shooting wise from behind the arc, playing hard means a lot to the scrappy senior from Culver, IN. Galloway is the emotional leader of an Indiana team that really feeds off his energy and effort as he single handily seemed to spark the Hoosiers to a victory over Ohio State after being down as much as 18 points. A scrappy, hard nosed defender who plays with passion and emotion who is being asked to do even more with Xavier Johnson being lost for the season.
The first time Purdue and Indiana matched up, Edey was able to limit the Hoosiers’ effectiveness by getting Ware and Reneau in foul trouble and that forced a reliance on Walker and Sparks on the inside who just aren’t the same quality of players. Can Edey do it again? History says that’ll be likely and if they don’t then Edey will feast on the inside. TJD kept himself out of foul trouble because he knew his value on the floor and that typically meant Edey had big days.
This is a better team than what Purdue presented as themselves at any point last year and TJD and Hood-Schifino aren’t going to come down the ramp as NBA ready talent. Purdue is an 18.5 point favorite at home and unless Purdue lays an absolute stinker while IU plays their best game of the season, this should see the seniors walk off of Mackey with a sweep of Purdue’s biggest rival.