No. 23 Purdue bids to keep streaking vs. Indiana
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No. 23 Purdue is peaking at the right time as it heads toward the postseason.
The Boilermakers (17-8 overall, 12-6 Big Ten) will take a four-game winning streak into their regular-season finale against Indiana on Saturday in West Lafayette, Ind.
With a win, Purdue can clinch a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament, which will be held March 10-14 in nearby Indianapolis.
The Boilermakers have won through the course of the season with toughness, ranking third in the Big Ten in rebounding margin (plus-6.4) and fourth in field goal percentage defense (41.3 percent).
Purdue is coming off a 73-69 win at home over No. 25 Wisconsin on Tuesday night, a game in which 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey scored a career-high 21 points. The Boilermakers improved to 10-1 at home this season.
"Anytime you play a team that you know is going to be in the NCAA Tournament and you get another quality win on your resume, that's what you want," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "It's just another experience of especially in a close game of just finding a way to pull it out, and our guys were able to that."
Trevion Williams, who averages team-best totals in points (15.6) and rebounds (8.9), has been Purdue's most consistent player during the 2020-21 season.
The Boilermakers, however, have had different players step up at different times during the course of the season. Aaron Wheeler added 11 points off the bench in the win over Wisconsin, as Purdue outscored the Badgers 38-15 in bench points.
"When you have more than five starters, you have a good team, and I think we've proven that," Painter said. "I think we have some guys who have battled through it the whole year, started some, not started and you have to be productive."
As Purdue has hit its stride, the crumbling Hoosiers (12-13, 7-11) are going in the opposite direction.
Indiana lost its fourth straight on Tuesday, falling 64-58 at Michigan State. Shooting woes continued for the Hoosiers, who shot just 32.7 percent (18 of 55) from the field and 10.0 percent (2 of 20) from 3-point range in the loss.
"You're gonna have a hard time winning on the road when you go to 2-20 from 3," Indiana coach Archie Miller said. "Things aren't going to open up inside the paint very much if you can't bring them out."
To go with the poor perimeter shooting, Indiana leading scorer Trayce Jackson-Davis has hit a recent funk, averaging 9.5 points over his last two games.
The Hoosiers likely will be without second-leading scorer Armaan Franklin (11.6 points per game), who has missed the last two games with a foot injury.
Indiana will be looking to snap an eight-game losing streak against Purdue, dating back to the 2015-16 season. Senior Indiana guard Al Durham and fourth-year junior forward Race Thompson haven't beaten Purdue since arriving on campus.
"Just bounce back versus Purdue," Indiana guard Rob Phinisee said. "It's really big for Al and Race really. They haven't beat them yet in their career."
--Field Level Media
Updated March 4, 2021