February 19, 2016

Indiana rose to the top of the Big Ten by taking care of business through a light schedule. After a shaky stretch, the Hoosiers can prove they belong there during a more challenging finish.

Purdue has a chance to get right back in the mix despite its own inconsistencies of late.

The 22nd-ranked Hoosiers seek a spot alone atop the conference when No. 17 Purdue visits Saturday night for an in-state rivalry matchup between the Big Ten's top offensive and defensive teams.

Indiana (21-6, 11-3) opened Big Ten play 7-0, its best start since 1992-93, but didn't face a ranked conference team until last week when it was 9-2. Things started off well enough with an 85-78 home win over No. 4 Iowa on Feb. 11, but an 88-69 blowout loss at No. 8 Michigan State followed three days later.

The Hoosiers follow Wednesday's 80-64 home victory over Nebraska with three of their final four games against Top 25 teams, including their last two against conference co-leader Iowa and a No. 6 Maryland team that's one game back.

"That all comes down to what the schedule makers make," coach Tom Crean said. "The schedule comes out of the computer, and that's what we play. I leave that to those people to make those decisions."

Indiana is 15-0 at Assembly Hall and 16-2 there against Top 25 teams over the last five seasons.

This is the first meeting in this rivalry where both teams are ranked since February 2008, when No. 15 Indiana topped No. 14 Purdue 77-68 in Bloomington.

Purdue (21-6, 9-5) has won the last three meetings, including a 67-63 road victory last Feb. 19. A.J. Hammons made 8 of 9 shots for 20 points and finished with four blocks, raising his career averages against the Hoosiers to 14.4 points and 4.0 blocks in five games. Yogi Ferrell finished with 21 points for Indiana.

The Hoosiers averaged 64.7 points in those three straight losses, but they enter this meeting as the Big Ten's top-scoring team at 83.4 per game while tied for second in the nation with a field-goal percentage of 50.3.

Indiana regrouped from a 37.7 percent showing against the Spartans - its second contest shooting worse than 40 percent in a three-game span - by making 52.9 percent from the field against the Cornhuskers.

Junior Troy Williams missed all five of his shots to go scoreless against Michigan State, but he finished 8 of 9 for 18 points Wednesday - pulling within 11 points of becoming the 49th player in school history to reach 1,000.

Points may be tougher to come by against the Big Ten's top defensive team. Purdue has held opponents to 63.5 points per game on 38.3 percent shooting and leads the conference with an average of 42.3 rebounds and 12.5 on the offensive glass.

Though the Boilermakers have split their last four games - both losses coming away from home - they matched last season's win total with Tuesday's 71-61 victory over Northwestern. Purdue shot 38.3 percent and was held to four 3-pointers, but after getting outrebounded for the first time all season three nights earlier at Michigan, they won the battle on the boards 45-24 and grabbed 19 on the offensive glass.

''We had to stick with what we were doing and keep pounding the basketball inside,'' coach Matt Painter said. ''I thought our guys did a good job at grinding out the victory.''

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