Game 2 is a step up in competition
In college basketball game 1 is almost always a buy game. Big time programs set up an easy opponent for a near guaranteed win, unless they get bitten (looking at you, Nebraska). Game 2 is normally a step up. It often involves a regional mid-major that is more of a regular on the schedule. We get to see that in Game 2 as the mighty Trees of Indiana State come to Mackey Arena for the 35th all-time meeting.
It is a transition year for the Sycamores. They are in their first season under a new coach in Josh Schertz, a guy who had a very successful run in Division II at Lincoln Memorial, but is the top guy for the first time at a Division I program. So far, he is undefeated. Tuesday night Indiana State went to Green Bay and pulled out an 81-77 victory to start the season.
They were able to put four players in double figures on Tuesday. Cooper Neese, who is 10th in Indiana’s all-time high school scoring list with 2,496 points, led them with 18. He was also their leading scorer in last year’s meeting with Purdue as he was 7 of 11 from the floor for 22 points.
Kailex Stephens had 16 for Indiana State on Tuesday, while Xavier Bledsoe and Cameron Henry each had 15. Stephens also had 13 rebounds. None of them were part of Indiana State’s roster in last year’s game against Purdue. Tyreke Key, who had 18 last year against us, was expected to have a major role, but he is out for the season after having shoulder surgery.
An interesting addition for the Trees is 6’10” center Dearon Tucker. He played in all 29 games last season, starting 6, for Oregon State as the Beavers mad a surprise run to the Elite 8 after shocking many by winning the Pac-12 autotbid. He only played 6 minutes in the opener, however.
This is a very young team. Key was their lone senior and Stephens, Neese, and Henry are their only juniors. Three players, including Henry, transferred over from Lincoln Memorial with their coach. They will very likely struggle to contain Purdue’s interior presence as Tucker is the lone player over 6’7” that played on Tuesday.
Still, ISU has talent. They had a winning record last season and those who stayed after Greg Lansing was let go despite the first winning record in six years. Containing Zach Edey and Trevion Williams will be a tremendous challenge for them.
On a separate topic, check out Breaking T for some great new Purdue merchandise.