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Jan 14, 2024 9:23 pm

Indiana hopes to ramp up pressure on No. 1 Purdue

After seeing a week full of upsets at the top of the AP Top 25 rankings, Indiana could add a much-needed boost to its NCAA Tournament at-large hopes by toppling No. 1 Purdue.

The Hoosiers (12-5, 4-2 Big Ten) defeated their in-state rivals twice last season, but if they want to extend that streak Tuesday night in Bloomington, Ind., they probably will have to force some turnovers.

Both Purdue defeats this season — at Northwestern and at Nebraska — have been marked by a high turnover rate.

But can Indiana do what its form chart suggests it can’t?

Per KenPom.com, the Hoosiers rank 236th of 362 Division I teams in defensive turnover rate, forcing only 16.8 per 100 possessions.

Indiana ranks 71st in defensive efficiency at 99.6 points per 100 possessions. Its strengths on that end of the floor are a top-100 effective field goal percentage (47.8) and a block percentage of 9.2 percent.

Equaling that block rate against 7-foot-4 Purdue star Zach Edey seems unlikely, so it might come down to the Hoosiers getting more ball pressure than usual.

Friday night’s 74-62 Big Ten win over Minnesota at home provided some evidence they can, as the Golden Gophers coughed it up 14 times in 71 possessions.

Third-year Indiana coach Mike Woodson, who caught his first real heat on the job after an ugly 66-57 loss Jan. 9 at Rutgers, was encouraged by his team’s performance against Minnesota.

“We rebounded pretty well and we didn’t turn it over,” he said. “We kept our turnovers down. It was a solid game.”

Malik Reneau leads the team with 16.3 points per game and Kel’el Ware adds 14.8. Both shoot at least 55 percent from the field, a stat that will be challenged by Edey’s presence inside.

As Saturday’s 95-78 rout of Penn State showed, Edey’s presence is not just sizable but tangible. He collected 30 points on just 12 shots while adding 20 rebounds, three assists and three blocks.

Edey became just the third player since the start of the 2010-11 season to roll up a 30-20-3-3 stat line, and it was his second 30-20 game for Purdue (15-2, 4-2).

“Not many people can say they’ve had 30 and 20 multiple times in their career at Purdue,” Edey said. “I do get to say that so it’s a pretty surreal feeling.”

“Thirty and 20 — that’s Wilt Chamberlain-type numbers,” Nittany Lions coach Mike Rhoades said.

It doesn’t hurt that Edey has multiple 3-point threats around him.

Braden Smith, Trey Kaufman-Renn and Fletcher Loyer each make at least 40 percent from the arc on the year, while Lance Jones also supplies double-figures scoring from the backcourt to go with above-average defense.

All those threats help explain why the Boilermakers rank 15th in effective field goal percentage at 56.8. Their adjusted offensive efficiency of 123.6 is second in Division I, trailing only Alabama.

The Boilermakers have won 10 of their last 13 meetings against Indiana but have dropped their past two visits to Bloomington.

–Field Level Media

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