Indiana Daily Student

IU looks to rebound with win at Purdue

Sophomore Collin Hartman drives past his defender during IU's game against Maryland on Thursday at Assembly Hall.
Sophomore Collin Hartman drives past his defender during IU's game against Maryland on Thursday at Assembly Hall.

In Tuesday’s press conference before a trip to Purdue, IU freshman guard James Blackmon Jr. was asked if the Boilermakers reminded him of another opponent. He didn’t have to think too hard about his answer.

“Georgetown.”

That happens to be the second-biggest team IU has played this ?season, just behind Maryland.

The Hoyas rank 13th nationally in average height, per kenpom.com. That statistic takes the average height of a team’s players and weights it according to minutes played.

Georgetown rode its size to an overtime win against IU just more than a month ago. Purdue might look to do the same.

The Boilermakers rank 23rd in average height. By comparison, the Hoosiers are 198th in average height. The average IU player stands almost two inches shorter than his Purdue ?counterpart.

Anchoring Purdue’s size is a pair of 7-footers: junior A.J. Hammons and freshman Isaac Haas. Hammons leads the team in scores, rebounds and blocks, with Haas spelling him in limited minutes.

The two almost never play together, but could break out an oversized lineup against the small-ball ?Hoosiers.

That’s how IU’s practicing, at least.

“We’re just going to go out there expecting them to play two big men,” Blackmon said. “Just go out in practice and prepare for that.”

Even beyond its two centers, Purdue likes to play big. The Boilermakers’ shortest starter is 6-foot-4 guard Jon Octeus, and only one rotation player — 5-foot-10 backup guard P.J. Thompson — stands shorter ?than that.

The Boilermakers’ size advantage allows them to play through the paint on offense. Purdue scores more than 55 percent of its points on two-point shots, according to kenpom.com, and makes just 5.7 3-pointers per game.

IU Coach Tom Crean said he wouldn’t let those numbers dictate how he prepares his team. Teams can go through stretches that skew numbers, he said, like IU’s own shooting struggles early this season.

“We’re not ready to prepare for those guys’ off percentages,” Crean said. “It’d be like a team getting ready for us after the first couple games, looking at our ?percentages, thinking, ‘Well, maybe they don’t shoot well.’ No, we can shoot pretty good. So can Purdue.”

“It’s not as much about the size,” Crean said. “That’s a great storyline because they have it and we don’t, but the bottom line is they play really, really hard, and we’re going to have to match that.”

When asked how IU plans to play around the obvious size differential, Crean dismissed the question.

“We don’t,” he said. “What are we going to do? We deal with that all the time. We make do.”

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