BLOOMINGTON, Ind.– Tuesday’s rivalry battle between Indiana and Purdue features two teams with seasons that have gone in polar opposite directions. While the 15th-ranked Boilermakers seem to be hitting their stride, winning nine of their last 10, IU is limping into Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers have just one victory in their last 11 games, an overtime win over then 6th-ranked Michigan State. However, when it comes to in-state bragging rights, toss out the standings.
“Records don’t matter for a rivalry like this,” Purdue sophomore center Matt Haarms said.
“If you walk into venues like Assembly Hall or Mackey Arena or the Breslin Center and you can’t get fired up, you have something wrong with you,” Purdue head coach Matt Painter said. “This is why you come to Purdue to be able to go to Indiana and be able to play and it’s why you go to Indiana. You go to Indiana to be able to go into those opposing venues and try to get a victory.”
“It’s like Mackey but its like Mackey is against you,” Haarms said of the Hoosiers’ home court. “So it is probably the way they feel about Mackey is the way we feel about Assembly Hall, especially when we come to town. So we know it is going to be a tough environment we know their fans are going to be there and we know we are going to get their best shot.”
IU (13-12) has lost their last four at Assembly Hall, uncharacteristic for the notoriously hostile Hoosiers home court.
“They have a lot of good, young talent guys and when you are young and you are that way and you are trying to piece it together and you have come up short, you are going to fight, I’ve been there,” Painter added. “We know this is going to be a tough game for us and we are going to have to play well.”
“Their win at Michigan State was big time, we watched the game and obviously they can pull out victories like that against good teams so we just have to be ready,” Purdue senior guard Ryan Cline said.
Purdue (18-7), just a half game back of Michigan and Michigan State in the Big Ten chase, recovered from a sluggish start to the season to get into conference title contention. However the Boilers don’t think they’ve yet to assemble their most complete effort on the court this season.
“I really don’t think we have,” Haarms explained. “I think we are still developing and still growing but I don’t think that’s just natural for anybody I think we largely attribute that to coaching and our coaching staff and how good of a job they have done.”
The Boilers aim for a season sweep of Indiana on Tuesday night, having defeated the Hoosiers 70-55 at Mackey Arena last month. They know that taking the crowd out of it early will be key, not just in terms of noise, but also in terms of prompting an early exit for the opposing fan base.
“There’s no better feeling than walking out of an area with a minute or two left and you see those fans going back to their cars and ready to go home,” Cline said with a laugh.
Tip off is set for 7 p.m. on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall. Each team will have just five games remaining in the regular season after Tuesday’s rivalry match-up.