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Scouting Notes: Purdue



Indiana basketball vs Purdue basketball
A deep dive into Purdue and some of the challenges it could give the Indiana basketball program in Tuesday's matchup. (Purdue Athletics)

Indiana basketball enters Tuesday with its biggest opportunity of the season as No. 2 Purdue comes to Assembly Hall.

Purdue is 15-2 this season overall and 4-2 in conference play in Matt Painter’s 19th season on the bench for the Boilermakers. Purdue is, again, one of the most dominant teams in the nation on both ends of the floor. The Boilermakers rank 2nd in offensive efficiency with a 123.7 rating. Defensively, they rank 22nd with a defensive efficiency rating of 95. Overall, Purdue comes into Tuesday with an overall rating of 3rd in KenPom.

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

Key Players

There’s no surprise, here. 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’s soft hands and combination of size and touch make it a close to a given when he gets the ball and turns in the paint. Edey has great patience and will allow the double teams to come to him before making a decision. 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 9.9 free throws per game and shooting 74.4 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 when need be. He has two games of 26+ points this season against Alabama and Arizona. When he’s playing his best, he’s setting up teammates, however. 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 15th in assist rate (37.2) 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.

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 40.8 percent on 4.5 attempts per game. 51.2 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 39.2 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 potential playmaker in Lance Jones. The Southern Illinois transfer brings athleticism and another ball handler to the roster. Jones has the potential to hit from three and is a very high-volume shooter, but he’s very streaky. He’s shooting just 32.6 percent on 3s but has made at least two 3s in nine games this year. Jones is almost strictly a three-point shooter with 60.5 percent of his shot attempts this year comes from the perimeter. While he’s not going to be the leading scorer for this Purdue team, his consistency is key. Two of his four worst shooting performances this year have come in losses — a combined 6-of-23 from the field and 3-of-15 from three. Indiana needs to make Jones a passer as his playmaking skills are drastically lower than Smith.

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. 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-15 on 3s the season. He is best in the paint and attacking the offensive glass. Kaufman-Renn is averaging nearly two offensive rebounds per game and uses his high motor and length on the boards. 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 51.1 percent from three on 2.6 attempts per game. He has eight games with multiple 3s this season. Most of his work is done on the perimeter, with 65.7 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.

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 Tuesday ranked 9th in the country in three-point percentage at 39.8 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. Last season 38.4 percent of its shots attempts came from three. This season, 37.3 percent of its shot attempts are 3s.  Last year, however, 28.2 percent of the total points came off of 3s (269th nationally). This season its at 31.1 percent (157th). Purdue is hitting 8.8 3s per game overall and 9.2 in conference games. A lot of that is due to the increase 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 — one that leads the conference in Big Ten games in three-point defense. But, don’t get it twisted, Purdue force feeds Zach Edey. 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, so it’ll be interesting to see how frequently the Indiana basketball defense doubles — and from where.

Defensively, Purdue has struggled to turn teams over, especially in the open floor. The Boilermakers are forcing just 10.9 turnovers per game and have a steal percentage of just 7.9 — rated 301st nationally. What they make up for is in free throws and fouling. Purdue ranks 11th in defensive free throw rate, at just 23.4 percent, and 14.9 percent of opponents points coming from the foul line — 23rd 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 58.4 percent from the free throw line in the last four games — but ranks 16th 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 has a league-worst steal rate and overall turnover percentage. 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.

Related: ‘They want to beat us as badly as we want to beat them.’: Next chapter of Purdue-Indiana basketball rivalry is written tonight

Projected Starters

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

Stats: 12.4 ppg, 5.3 rpg, 6.9 apg, 48.2% 3pt

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

Stats: 11.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 40.8% 3pt

G – Lance Jones (Senior; 6-1, 205)

Stats: 11.3 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.5 apg

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

Stats: 7.4 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 46.7% 3pt

F – Zach Edey (Senior; 7-4, 285)

Stats: 22.3 ppg, 10.9 rpg, 2.3 bpg

Key Notes

  • Purdue leads the nation in Quad 1 and Q1 + Q2 wins with six and nine respectively.
  • Purdue is 17-0 in the last 17 games when forcing 10 or more turnovers
  • Purdue has eight losses since the start of last season, with six of them coming by less than 8 points
  • Purdue leads the all-time series 125-92
  • Indiana has won three of the last four meetings after Purdue had won 12-of-13 meetings from Feb. 2014 to March 2021

SEE ALSO: Indiana basketball facing Purdue team with new offensive dynamic. Its ability to hit 3s: ‘That’s the biggest challenge’

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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.