Hoosiers expecting Boilers’ best on Sunday

Planning for Purdue is like a game of “pick your poison.”

Focus on its bigs in the post, and leave yourself susceptible to deep shots from a cadre of sharpshooters. Hone in on those shooters, and leave yourself vulnerable to the low-post size that few, if any, teams can match.

For the Hoosiers, there’s no easy solution.

“You’re going to have to figure out how to do it,” IU coach Archie Miller said.

Matching up with the No. 3 Boilermakers is the latest challenge for Indiana, which hosts its in-state rival Sunday at 3:30 p.m. in the only meeting between the teams this season.

The Hoosiers are coming off an ugly loss on Wednesday at Illinois, where they threw away a chance to notch a road victory with poor guard play and missed free throws.

There’s a thin margin for error against Purdue, which has won five of the past six games in the series and is looking for its third win in the past four games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Inside and outside, Indiana knows what’s in store.

“They have a lot of weapons,” junior walk-on Zach McRoberts said. “They have a lot of guys who can shoot and a lot of guys shooting well from 3-point (range). That’s something we’re focusing on, and we’re gonna try to defend the best we can.”

Defending the 3-point shot has been a weakness for IU this season. The Hoosiers are ranked No. 314 nationally with a 3-point field goal percentage defense of .381. In conference games, IU is allowing opponents to shoot 38.4 percent from beyond the arc. That ranks 11th in the league.

Purdue has made at least 10 3-pointers in eight of its past nine games, shooting 50 percent from beyond the arc in that span. The Boilers’ senior trio of P.J. Thompson, Dakota Mathias and Vincent Edwards are a combined 139-for-290 (.479) from 3-point territory.

Just ask Michigan about the challenges Purdue presents.

The Wolverines played a great game in Thursday’s 92-88 loss to the Boilers at Mackey Arena, only to watch Purdue shoot 55 percent from 3-point range and 66 percent from inside the arc.

“This team is like — I don’t think I’m crazy, (but) you guys have seen teams that come in the Big Ten,” Beilein said. “Who has five guys that shoot on the run? They don’t even have to get themselves open to shoot on the run.

“What are the challenges guarding (Isaac) Haas? You guys go and try and guard him. He’s impossible. And it’s a bad matchup for us.”

It will be for Indiana, too.

Haas, the 7-foot-2 senior center, scored 24 points in 20 minutes against Michigan, the 15th time this season that he finished with more points than minutes played. He also ranks 11th nationally with 7.7 fouls drawn per 40 minutes.

As physically imposing as Haas is, his backup is equally impressive. Matt Haarms, a 7-foot-3 freshman, is third among his classmates nationally with 60 blocked shots. He’s on pace for 95 blocks on the season.

“It starts in the post with them with Haas,” Miller said. “I think anyone who plays them, in the 22 minutes that he plays, you are getting a dose. As you try to figure out how you want to do that, you clearly have four other guys on the floor at a given time that can make two, three, four 3s a game. When you have that kind of inside out presence with that type of shooting, it is ‘pick your poison.'”

It’s easy to get consumed with what Purdue does well. Approaching the rivalry game, the Hoosiers are also looking within.

Wednesday saw another poor performance away from home, during which IU’s guards struggled to provide Indiana with a winning effort.

Good guard play has been one of the themes to IU’s best days on the court this season. At Illinois, the play wasn’t good enough.

IU’s perimeter players combined for 11 turnovers, nine of which came during the second half. They also combined for merely 13 points between them, struggling to lift Indiana down the stretch.

“You have to bring some energy and some toughness on the ball, something that went missing in the second half at Illinois,” Miller said. I thought we did a really nice job at the beginning of the game, especially in the first half defensively at Illinois, but we took our guard down. We got fatigued. We just didn’t play. If you do that against (Purdue), I mean, they just move the ball so well they’ll be able to pick you apart.”