Purdue looks to remain undefeated in Big Ten play against Indiana
Purdue senior center Isaac Haas is convinced this team is special.
“I believe we’re the best team in the nation,” Haas told reporters after Thursday’s 92-88 home victory over No. 25 Michigan. “I just want to show everybody.”
Entering Sunday’s Big Ten game at Indiana in Bloomington, No. 3 Purdue (20-2, 9-0 Big Ten) is giving credence to Haas’ belief. Purdue’s start in the conference is the best in school history. The Boilermakers’ 16-game winning streak ties the longest win streak in school annals.
Over the past three games, Purdue has hit 56.3 percent of its shots and 60 percent of its 3-pointers. For the season, the Boilermakers are shooting 44.2 percent from 3-point range, which was No. 2 nationally through Friday’s games.
This is the only scheduled meeting between Purdue and Indiana (12-9, 5-4) this season.
After scoring a combined total of five points in the previous two games, the 7-foot-2 Haas was 10 of 14 from the field for 24 points against Michigan. Redshirt freshman Matt Haarms, who stands 7-foot-3, has been effective off the bench.
“The thing about this team is everyone can shoot so we keep you honest,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “When you see Isaac Haas down there and (Michigan players) stay one-on-one, that’s just a back-handed compliment to the rest of the guys because you should double him. But threes are more than twos. (The Wolverines) didn’t double him and we make 11 threes.”
Painter said this team is comparable to the 2009-10 team, which finished 29-6 and reached the Sweet 16. Robbie Hummel, one of the team’s top scorers, went down for the season with an ACL injury in late February.
“I think it’s very comparable,” Painter said. “Both teams have some different strengths. Both teams have a high value when it comes to competing and playing together and doing a lot of little things.”
Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards leads the team with a 17.0 points average. Senior forward Vincent Edwards averages 15.6 points and Haas 14.1.
The Hoosiers were 16 of 29 from the free-throw line in a 73-71 loss at Illinois on Wednesday night. Indiana is shooting 66 percent from the free-throw line.
“It’s just a matter of confidence, just stepping up and knocking them down,” Indiana forward Juwan Morgan told the Indianapolis Star after the loss to Illinois. “We’ve been playing this game for a long time. It’s time to start making free throws. It’s a mental thing. Just every time you step up, you should know it’s going in. Even if it’s out, you know you’ve got the next one.”
Morgan, who leads Indiana with 16 points and 7.1 rebounds per game, scored 28 points on 12-of-14 shooting at Illinois. However, he was 3 of 8 at foul line.
Naturally, Hoosiers coach Archie Miller said he is disappointed in the free-throw shooting.
“Right now we’re not a very good free-throw shooting team, and we’ve got guys who are better free throw shooters,” Miller said. “We’ve got to work on it. I told a few guys that if you are struggling from the line you need to have some pride in your individual game, and you have to get in the gym a little bit more, and we’ll keep working on it.”
The Hoosiers’ 3-point shooting has been an issue as well as Indiana is shooting 31 percent from beyond the arc.