Meet the Opponent: The Suddenly Surging Indiana Hoosiers
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana and Purdue have headed in opposite directions since the Boilermakers roasted the Hoosiers 74-62 at Assembly Hall on Feb. 8.
Based on that day's performance, you could have never guessed that it's Purdue that would go in the tank — four straight losses since beating Indiana — and a lifeless and listless Indiana team would go on a 3-1 run, with wins at home against two ranked teams (Iowa and Penn State) and a huge road win at Minnesota.
Indiana is 18-9 now and 8-8 in the Big Ten. They are in most NCAA tournament field projections right now thanks to that hot streak. And It's been weird what's gone on with the Boilermakers the past two weeks. Since beating Indiana, they've lost four games in a row and are just a 14-14 team right now. But they are clearly the best 14-14 team in the country, as weird as that sounds.
Here are three things you need to know about the Boilermakers heading into the 7 p.m. ET showdown:
1. Hot-and-cold Hoosiers on an uptick again
Purdue fans can relate to inconsistent play all season, and there are a lot of similarities with this Indiana team as well. You just never know what you're going to get. Indiana went through a four-game losing streak too, but just when a lot of experts and Twitter trolls (non-experts, for sure) thought their season was in the toilet, the Hoosiers have rebounded with a nice hot streak. weeks ago.
They've done it again quality foes, too, beating very good ranked teams in No. 9 Penn State and No. 18 Iowa in the past two weeks. What might have been even more impressive was going to Minnesota and winning last week. The Hoosiers, much like the Boilermakers, haven't been very good on the road in the Big Ten, so that was a huge win against the Gophers. Which Indiana team will Purdue fans see on Thursday night? Who knows. It's anyone's guess.
2. Focus back on Trayce Jackson-Davis inside
Indiana has had a resurgence the past two weeks by getting the ball back into the the hands of freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is clearly their best player. He went for 27 points and 16 rebounds in the big road win at Minnesota, completely outplaying talented Gophers big man Daniel Oturu, and then added 13 and 10 against Penn State in the 68-60 comeback win on Sunday.
Jackson-Davis now has nine double-doubles on the season, and when he's that effective, you're not going to beat the Hoosiers. Indiana is 9-0 in his double-double games. Purdue will have to keep him in check Thursday night. They did a decent job against him on Feb. 8, and will have to do it again.
3. Bench play making a difference in recent stretch
Indiana's bench has been very good lately. Sophomore forward Race Thompson has been a big factor in the rotation inside, taking a lot of minutes away from starter Joey Brunk because he's been playing so well.
Jerome Hunter has hit a few big shots lately and senior guard Devonte Green, who defines streaky for Indiana, has had his senior moments lately, too. He was huge in the Iowa win — he had 27 points just five days after scoring only 3 points against Purdue. The Boilers will have to make sure he doesn't get off to a hot start.
Related Purdue-Indiana basketball content
- FIRST GAME AT MACKEY: A Purdue senior who grew up in a basketball-watching family had never been to a game at Mackey. We fixed that. CLICK HERE
- LANDER COMMITS TO INDIANA: Khristian Lander, a 5-star point guard from Evansville, Ind., committed to the Hoosiers on Tuesday night. CLICK HERE
- JACKSON-DAVIS PLAYER OF WEEK: For the fifth time this year, Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was named the Big Ten's Freshman of the Week. CLICK HERE
- ADD ANOTHER YEAR!: With San Diego State finally losing, there are no unbeaten teams left. That means the 1976 Hoosiers are still the last remaining unbeaten team, 44 years later. CLICK HERE
- MILLER ON PURDUE LOSS: Here's what Archie Miller said after Purdue beat Indiana back on Feb. 8. CLICK HERE