This time though, the team’s fiercest rival will be without its star forward, Robbie Hummel.
Hummel’s season-ending injury is a boon to IU, but the Hoosiers will need more than an injured starter if they want to beat the Boilermakers on the road.
While IU managed to keep its first matchup with Purdue close the entire way, it won’t have a raucous Assembly Hall crowd backing it in West Lafayette.
And with only one road win on its record — not including the victory against Pittsburgh in New York City — against lowly Penn State, the Hoosier team hasn’t proven itself to be a road warrior.
During this 10-game losing streak — one that will become a record-low if it stretches to 11 — IU has lost by an average of 15.2 points per game in its road losses. Only one of those road games was lost by single digits, a 72-70 decision at Illinois. Since the team nearly beat the Boilermakers on Feb. 4, the Hoosiers have gone on a downward spiral, and it has lost an average of 20 points per game.
And while the Hoosiers managed to stay competitive against Purdue at home, IU coach Tom Crean acknowledged the Boilermakers will be a different, and better, team at home.
“In Mackey Arena, they take it up another notch,” he said.
Playing without Hummel, Purdue lost to Michigan State at home Sunday, its fourth total loss — second at home — and first since Jan. 16.
The Hoosiers are not the same team it would be if freshman guard Maurice Creek was still playing, but the Boilermakers are a strong unit even without Hummel, who had 21 points, shot 50 percent and grabbed 7 rebounds against the Hoosiers.
Freshman guard Jordan Hulls, who had 6 points and 2 assists in the February contest, said Hummel’s absence will not be a huge difference Wednesday.
“They have proven to be a great team,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who they put on the floor, they are going to be tough.”
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