While a matchup against the country's top-ranked team looms this weekend, Indiana first has some important business to take care of Wednesday night.
The No. 3 Hoosiers try for a third consecutive win over Purdue as these archrivals square off at Mackey Arena.Indiana (18-2, 6-1 Big Ten) had dropped five straight to the Boilermakers (11-9, 4-3) before handily taking last season's two meetings, including a 78-61 victory during its last visit to West Lafayette on Feb. 4. Purdue holds a 112-86 edge in this all-time series dating to 1901."I'm not sure there's many (rivalries) in the country that compare to Indiana-Purdue," Hoosiers associate head coach Steve McClain said. "I don't know how many you can find where it's truly the biggest game and so I think every level has something that they probably look at. When you look at this state it's about one game."Despite their domination of Purdue last season, the Hoosiers, the nation's second-highest scoring team at 83.3 points per game, aren't expecting anything to come easy this time around."We all know that it is our biggest rival, that is no secret," junior Will Sheehey said. "The game is going to be tough and hard-fought. It has not changed for me since I got here."Indiana, which hosts No. 1 Michigan in a much-anticipated showdown Saturday, kept pace with the Wolverines atop the conference with Sunday's 75-70 win over No. 13 Michigan State. Victor Oladipo had a season-high 21 points and the Hoosiers held the Spartans scoreless over the final 3:32."For us to get this win in this environment, for us to make the plays that we made, especially at the end, for us to make the defensive stops that we made to get the buckets that we needed to get, I thought was huge," coach Tom Crean said."We're not in a league where you're going to get a lot of those types of big wins, so you've got to be in some fights. We'll get better from this."Oladipo also had seven rebounds, a career-best six steals and three blocks. The junior standout's big game shouldn't come as much of a surprise to the Boilermakers, against whom he scored a career-high 23 in that Feb. 4 win."We feel like we're a great team when Victor does this," senior Christian Watford said. "He brings a lot of energy."Oladipo's performance helped offset another disappointing offensive showing from Cody Zeller. The preseason All-American has combined for 11 points on 2-of-11 shooting in his last two games.Zeller had no such trouble offensively against the Boilermakers last season, totaling 29 points on 8 of 13 from the field.Purdue enters Wednesday having won four of five, with its only loss coming 68-53 at Michigan on Thursday. The Boilermakers, though, got back on track three days later with a 65-62 overtime win over Iowa.Junior Terone Johnson, averaging a team-leading 13.5 points, scored 17 to go along with a career-high 12 rebounds for Purdue, which outscored the Hawkeyes 38-22 in the paint. The Boilermakers picked up the pace in OT after blowing an 11-point lead with eight minutes left in regulation."For us, having a young team, just trying to grind it out and win games," coach Matt Painter said. "We haven't had too many games like this, where it's gotten close and you had to tough it out. ... Hopefully we can build some confidence just moving to our next game, no matter who it might be (against)."The Boilermakers have dropped 14 of 17 to ranked opponents, including four of five this season.While Purdue is surely hoping to feed off its home crowd Wednesday, Indiana hasn't been fazed playing in unfriendly environments. The Hoosiers are looking to win their first four road games in league play for the first time since opening 6-0 in 1992-93.