In rivalry where fans provide energy, Indiana and Purdue need to generate it themselves

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INDIANAPOLIS — When Indiana and Purdue meet on the court, it’s one of the most raucous rivalries in college basketball.

“Those who’ve been here before know the environment in both facilities, especially our facility, that playing at home’s a little bit different,” explained Indiana head coach Archie Miller.

The most notable difference this year though will be emptiness, as the Hoosiers and the Boilers meet in Bloomington’s Assembly Hall on Thursday evening.

“Like any game like now, it’s the energy that you bring,” says Purdue head coach Matt Painter. “You have to continue to do that and get yourself ready to play.”

“Hearing 17,000 people boo at you is pretty cool,” added Boilers’ junior guard Sasha Stefanovic. “Obviously, we’re not gonna have that, but the rivalry is still there. You still want to go beat your in-state rival.”

Purdue has done just that in recent years, winning 10 of the last 11 games between the two programs.

“Don’t want to continue that tradition at all,” said Indiana sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis. “The only way to do that is beat them. They’ve had our number the past few years. (We’ve got to) change the culture, change history.”

Though history will remember this year as the year without fans, coaches will be quick to point out that the game remains the same.

“You play well, and you generate that energy,” says Painter. “It’s hard to feel good about bad play. You’ve got to get out there and be productive and execute. That’s what it’s about in this environment.”

“In this type of game, I think both teams are focused in on themselves, and you have to be ready to roll,” adds Miller.

Bragging rights for the winner will last about two months, until the teams meet to close out the regular season on March 6.

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