WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The last time Indiana knocked off Purdue basketball was on Feb. 20, 2016 at Assembly Hall. Since then The Boilermakers are on a nine-game win streak against their bitter in-state rival.
And the players who have been around the longest have no intention of letting that change when they tip off against the Hoosiers on the road Thursday.
Postseason aspirations, a Big Ten championship and national rankings are all on the table this season for No. 4-ranked Purdue. But continuing its success against Indiana ranks just as high for this program.
"That's probably the one of the more important things going on," Purdue senior guard Eric Hunter Jr. said. "The seniors, we've never lost to IU. And we want to keep it that way."
The Boilermakers will round out a two-game road stretch when they tip off against the Hoosiers, who are an unbeaten 11-0 at home so far this season. The combined record of the two teams entering Thursday's game is 28-6, the best since Feb. 19, 2008.
Indiana has won its last eight games by double digits at home. But Purdue is coming off a huge victory over Illinois in a double-overtime on Monday, and the team looks to build off the win and increase its now three-game winning streak.
The Boilermakers are victors of five straight games at Assembly Hall against the Hoosiers, including double-digit wins in their last two matchups.
"It's an unreal environment, it's an unreal game. It's gonna be really physical, a lot of calls are going to be played on," Purdue senior forward Trevion Williams said. "So we've got to be prepared to hit and be physical, and be the aggressor in the game. This is obviously the most special game of the year, and it's a game everybody looks forward to. We just got to prepare, put our heads down, and just kind of build off the Illinois win."
It's obvious that the home crowd will come raucous as ever for the matchup after fans were unable to attend home games a season ago. But Purdue is no stranger to road games at this point in the year, having traveled for Big Ten games against Rutgers, Penn State and Illinois.
The team's first loss of the season came on a buzzer-beater at Jersey Mike's Arena against the Scarlet Knights, but the Boilermakers have since defeated the Nittany Lions and Fighting Illini away from West Lafayette to reach a 4-2 record in the conference.
However, despite the road wins, some players on the team have never experienced a fan-filled Assembly Hall during a rivalry matchup. Like Mackey Arena, it's one of the many prestigious environments in the Big Ten, and Purdue will enter the arena with a target on its back.
"We talked about it, the other guys know the games that we've been in and places that we've played at," Hunter said. "We kind of just try to emphasize it, because especially going to different places, now that we're number whatever in the country, that will get everybody's best game. We'll get their best crowd and we just got to be ready for that."
Even if the likes of sophomore stars Jaden Ivey and Zach Edey are getting their first glimpse of this matchup on the road, they'll know what to expect. The seniors, like Hunter and Williams, have all the experience necessary to help the team prepare.
"I think everybody knows, everybody has had a grasp of what it's going to be like," Williams said. "Everybody's excited for this game. Like I said, we just got to come in and fight. We know it's gonna be a packed arena. It's gonna be loud in there. So we're just ready to fight those guys."
Stories Related to Purdue Basketball
- PURDUE HANDS ILLINOIS FIRST BIG TEN LOSS: Senior guard Sasha Stefanovic scored made five 3-pointers and scored 22 points while leading Purdue to a double-overtime victory over Illinois on the road. Sophomore center Zach Edey notched 20 points and didn't turn the ball over in the win. CLICK HERE
- EDEY, WILLIAMS OUTPLAY COCKBURN: Purdue sophomore center Zach Edey scored 20 points in the team's 96-88 double-overtime victory over Illinois. He and senior forward Trevion Williams held Kofi Cockburn to 10 points and five rebounds before the Fighting Illini center fouled out. CLICK HERE
- TREVION WILLIAMS ON WHY HE CAME BACK: Purdue forward Trevion Williams joined the Sasha Live! last week and senior spoke about his experiences testing the NBA waters and his decision to return to a Boilermakers program that he believes is building something special this season. CLICK HERE