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Scouting Notes: Purdue



Indiana basketball
A deep dive into Purdue and some of the challenges it could give the Indiana basketball program in Saturday's matchup. (Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times-USA TODAY NETWORK)

Indiana basketball heads to West Lafayette for a rematch against No. 2 Purdue on Saturday night.

Purdue is on a seven game winning streak and enters at 21-2 overall and 10-2 in Big Ten play. The Boilermakers are ranked 1st in the nation in offensive efficiency with a rating of 126.0. Defensively, Purdue is rated 15th with an efficiency of 95.1. Overall, they are ranked 2nd in the KenPom overall ratings.

Here is a deep dive into some of the challenges Purdue could give the Indiana basketball program.

Key Players

Purdue is led by 7-foot-4 center Zach Edey. The reigning National Player of the Year is playing at an even higher level this season. Despite the fact that teams know the ball is going into him nearly every possession, he’s very much unguardable. Edey not only has great size and strength, he also has good touch in the paint. Edey has great patience and will allow the double teams to come to him before making a decision in the paint. Because of his size, he can pass out of double teams easily and has grown a lot in that area, putting even more pressure on opposing defenses. When he does make his post moves a foul typically follows. Edey is averaging 10.4 free throws per game and shooting 71.1 percent from the line. Defensively, he averages 2.3 blocks per game and forces a lot of opposing big men to start their post moves from closer to the free-throw line extended than on the block.

In the backcourt is Braden Smith. The sophomore guard has elevated his game this season. Smith plays like a game-manager but can light it up offensively when need be. When he’s playing his best, he’s setting up teammates. The one negative with Smith is sometimes his carelessness with the ball. In Purdue’s two losses he combined for nine turnovers and was also just 8-of-20 from the field. But, his playmaking ability makes up for any potential turnovers — ranking 12th in assist rate (37.6) in the country. Smith has a quick first step and is extremely tough but sometimes struggles with length and size. Indiana needs to speed him up and try to get him out of control with a quicker tempo because he typically controls the pace in the half court. He struggled last time against the Hoosiers, going just 2-of-14 from the field. Smith is averaging 15.0 points and 7.8 assists per game over his last four outings.

Alongside Smith is sophomore Fletcher Loyer. Loyer has been fantastic as a shooter this year — something he was very inconsistent with a season ago. He’s shooting 43.3 percent on 4.2 attempts per game. 5o percent of his shot attempts this season are 3s. Loyer is much better shooting the ball off of the catch and struggles at times to create his own shot. He’s not someone who is going to make a lot of plays off of the dribble, especially attacking the basket. Anywhere inside of the arc is a lesser-percentage shot for Loyer, shooting just 41.7 on 2s. Indiana basketball must make Loyer a driver and force him off of the three-point line on the catch.

On the wing is another playmaker in Lance Jones. The Southern Illinois transfer brings athleticism and another ball handler to the roster. Jones has really emerged as a go-to scorer for the Boilermakers over the last month — averaging 16.0 points per game in the last 10 games. He’s scored 20+ points in three of his last four games. Jones is almost strictly a three-point shooter with 59.6 percent of his shot attempts this year comes from the perimeter. He can create off of the dribble but is also very effective off of the catch. Jones is also a very willing playmaker for his teammates and has done a much better job limited turnovers over the last 10 games.

Rounding out the starters is forward Trey Kaufman-Renn. Kaufman-Renn has really come on strong this season to provide another threat in the front court, especially on the glass. He has an offensive rebound rate of 12.8 percent and averages nearly two offensive rebounds per game. While he has some ability to step out on the perimeter, he’s not going to be a high-volume, or even a willing shooter from deep with just 7-of-17 on 3s the season. He is best in the paint and attacking the offensive glass. There won’t be a lot of plays run for him, thus if he is beating Indiana, it’s because of effort and motor.

Off of the bench is Mason Gillis. The 6-foot-6 hybrid forward is a consistent piece for the Boilermakers, especially when it comes to stretching the floor. He is shooting 48.4 percent from three on 2.7 attempts per game. He has 11 games with multiple 3s this season. Most of his work is done on the perimeter, with 63.8 percent of his made field goals coming from three. The Indiana basketball bigs need to do a good job recovering to him on pick and pop sets or if they double the post touch from Zach Edey.

Coach Q&A: Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson previews Purdue matchup

Key Tendencies

Offensively, Purdue is as dominant as they come around the country. The Boilermakers, despite a very similar roster to last season, have a much more effective and consistent offensive attack than a season ago and a lot of it is because of the shooting impact. Purdue comes into Saturday ranked 4th in the country in three-point percentage at 40.1 percent on the season. It’s a part of the offense that it didn’t have a season ago, shooting just 32.2 percent on the season. Purdue is hitting 8.6 3s per game overall. A lot of that increased production is due to the efficiency from Braden Smith and Fletcher Loyer, both hitting 40+ percent of their 3s. So, defensive rotations have to be at a premium for the Indiana basketball defense. Don’t get it twisted, however, Purdue force feeds Zach Edey and that causes a lot of issues for opposing defenses. Take away the 3-ball or try to slow down Edey with double teams. Edey is second in the Big Ten in usage rate and is an obvious focal point of the offensive attack. Kel’el Ware has the size and length, but not the frame to body up Edey. In the first matchup, Edey was just 11-of-23 from the field. Indiana basketball will likely double at times, but it’ll be interesting to see how frequently — and from where — with so many capable shooters around the floor.

Defensively, Purdue has struggled to turn teams over, especially in the open floor. The Boilermakers are forcing just 10.1 turnovers per game — 333rd nationally — and have a steal percentage of just 8.0 — rated 284th nationally. Its non steal percentage is ranked 340th in the country. What they make up for is in free throws and fouling. Purdue ranks 7th in defensive free throw rate, at just 22.4 percent, and 14.2 percent of opponents points coming from the foul line — 13th best in the country. Those are two of the biggest areas that have impacted Indiana basketball games this season.

Overall, Indiana needs to convert at the foul line. It is shooting just 64.2 percent from the free throw line in Big Ten games — but ranks 19th overall in the country in free throw rate. If IU wins the foul battle, it absolutely has to convert. Also, Indiana’s inability to limit turnovers has been an issue in Big Ten games. It ranks 13th in the league in steal percentage, and with Purdue’s struggles getting live-ball turnovers, if Indiana is losing that area … it’ll be a long night. Indiana has to win both of those battles if it’s going to keep this one close and look to have a shot at coming out on top.

Projected Starters

G – Braden Smith (Sophomore; 6-0, 180)

Stats: 12.4 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 7.3 apg, 42.1% 3pt

G – Fletcher Loyer (Sophomore; 6-4, 185)

Stats: 11.3 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 43.3% 3pt

G – Lance Jones (Senior; 6-1, 205)

Stats: 13.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 36.4% 3pt

F – Trey Kaufman-Renn (Sophomore; 6-9, 215)

Stats: 6.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 41.7% 3pt

F – Zach Edey (Senior; 7-4, 285)

Stats: 23.1 ppg, 11.7 rpg, 2.3 bpg

Key Notes

  • Purdue has won seven straight games — second among major-conference programs
  • Zach Edey is the third player in NCAA history with at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds, 200 blocks and at least 60.0 percent shooting from the field
  • Since the start of last season, Purdue is 50-8 with six losses coming by single digits
  • Indiana basketball has handed Purdue one of its three home losses over the last 2.5 seasons

SEE ALSO: ‘It’s a double-edged sword’: Defending Zach Edey has come with a cost for Indiana basketball — but staying ‘aggressive’ with him is the key

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.