Indiana’s Trayce Jackson-Davis has only experienced the pain of losing to Purdue twice, but it’s two more times than he ever wanted.
The sophomore forward knows IU’s freshmen don’t want to experience it, at all.
“With Trey (Galloway), Anthony (Leal), Khristian (Lander), all of them, they don’t know what it’s like to lose to them and they don’t want to continue that tradition,” Jackson-Davis said. “The only way to do that is beat them. They’ve had our number the past few years.
“We have to change the culture and change history.”
In recent history, the IU-Purdue rivalry has been owned by the team to the north. In total, the Boilermakers have won seven in a row, as well as 10 of the last 11. That run goes back to the very end of the Tom Crean era. Archie Miller hasn’t beaten Purdue in his three-plus years as IU’s coach.
This IU team believes it can swim against the current, even if it comes under less-than-ideal circumstances. Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall will be mostly empty for Thursday’s 7 p.m. contest because of the ongoing pandemic, stealing one advantage from the Hoosiers. IU sophomore guard Armaan Franklin will be a game-time decision because of an ankle injury, though Miller said, regardless, he probably won’t be 100 percent.
“He did a little shooting yesterday, he did a little running and moving, more so than he did a week ago, and we’re going to have to see, game-time decision, how he feels. If he can’t go, he can’t go,” Miller said. “But he’s definitely not 100 percent.”
A physical Purdue squad will, as it did last year with success, try to trap and pester Jackson-Davis as much as possible, which will force the Hoosiers’ guards to make plays. And hitting outside shots hasn’t necessarily been IU’s strength in recent years.
But during parts of wins over Nebraska and Maryland, and even a near-win at Wisconsin, the Hoosier offense showed glimpses of hitting a stride. Jackson-Davis points to IU’s losses to Wisconsin and Northwestern, both brutally close, and is reminded the Hoosiers could easily be 5-1 in conference rather than 3-3.
IU believes it’s ready for the big game, but now is the time to show it.
“It’s really about executing down the stretch and finishing these games,” Jackson-Davis said. “I think we’ve been playing really well. We’ve been playing good enough to win games. But coach said, ‘You have to play good to just be in the game. You have to play great to win them.’”
If Franklin continues to be out, the Hoosiers (8-5, 3-3) are going to need significant contributions from the freshmen Jackson-Davis previously mentioned. Leal, in particular, has hit big shots and played solid defense in increased minutes at Wisconsin and Nebraska. He’s played 54 minutes in the last two Big Ten games after playing just 17 minutes combined in conference play prior.
IU’s veteran backcourt, junior Rob Phinisee and senior Al Durham, will have to keep hitting shots, too. Durham is averaging 15.8 points per game in his last four contests, boosting his season average from 8.8 points to 11.1.
Phinisee has scored in double figures in three of his last four games, including 18 points at Nebraska.
“It’s a game where you have to make plays,” Miller said. “I think being able to play off the doubles, being able to attack the paint, you have to be smart about that. At the same time, the game comes down to being able to make some open shots, it really does.
“When guys are open, they have to step in and be ready to shoot it or be ready to attack it. Without question, the paint is as tough as it’s going to get in any game when you play against those guys.”
Purdue (8-5, 3-3) will also be a load on the offensive end, especially with IU being so much more guard-oriented. The Boilermakers still have 6-foot-10, 265-pound forward Trevion Williams, plus they can bring a 7-4 freshman, Zach Edey, off the bench.
Then again, they surround Williams with shooters like Sasha Stefanovic (35-of-71 from 3), Brandon Newman (20-of-50), and Isaiah Thompson (14-of-34).
“They are a team that really thrives inside-out,” Miller said. “They establish their frontcourt players as well as anybody in the country.”
Parker Stewart update
The midyear transfer from UT-Martin is on campus and working through the process of joining the Hoosiers, which is just a little bit longer given the pandemic.
Since the 6-5 guard just moved in from outside the bubble, he’s had to go through a quarantine period and then become integrated into the Hoosiers’ daily testing regimen. Stewart has yet to practice with IU.
“Hopefully sometime next week or the week after he can start to work with us,” Miller said. “As of right now, there’s no real plan to be able to integrate him, any which way possible, with the circumstances surrounding his arrival.”
Stewart is a graduate student who will have two years of eligibility after this season. Whether he contributes on the floor this season remains uncertain. He came over to IU following the unexpected death of his father, UT-Martin’s head coach, Anthony Stewart.