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Three things to know before IU men’s basketball plays Purdue

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Senior forward Juwan Morgan gains control of the ball against Montana State on Nov. 9 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

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For just the second time in the 2018-19 season, IU will take on an in-state opponent.

Following last December’s win against Butler University in the Crossroads Classic, IU will play Purdue on Saturday afternoon in West Lafayette, Indiana, in the first of two meetings this season.

The Hoosiers and Boilermakers are trending in opposite directions ahead of this weekend’s nationally televised showdown. IU, 12-5 overall with a 3-3 conference record, has lost its last three games, while Purdue, 11-6 overall and 4-2 in the Big Ten, has won three of its last four games.

Here are three things to know before IU and Purdue resume their rivalry on the court.

1. How do the Hoosiers plan to contain Boilermaker guard Carsen Edwards?

Saturday marks the first time this season IU faces Purdue junior guard Carsen Edwards. The Texas native has been one of the most prolific scorers in college basketball this season, averaging 24.9 points per game and having four games with 30 or more points.

IU has played against several high-scoring guards already this season, having success against the likes of Marquette University junior guard Markus Howard, while struggling against others, like Maryland junior guard Anthony Cowan Jr.

The volume of shots Edwards puts up each game will be a particular challenge for the Hoosiers. He averages almost 20 field goal attempts per game, including 10 attempts from three-point range.

“It’s tough, they run a lot of actions for him,” redshirt senior guard Zach McRoberts said. “I guess just having the right mindset just knowing their plays, that’s a step in the right direction.”

2.  Rob Phinisee set to play his first college game back at home.

When IU limited Howard to just six of 14 shooting during last November’s win against Marquette, it was freshman guard Rob Phinisee who locked down the star guard. 

Phinisee has played in IU’s last two games after being sidelined with a concussion, but Miller said the freshman guard still isn’t the same consistent player he was before the injury.

“I think he knows right now that he’s going to start to play more and more minutes as the games continue to come,” Miller said. “But he’s also a guy that right now is starting to feel his way back into the flow of the game, shooting, passing, playing defense.”

Miller also said sophomore guard Al Durham could play against Purdue after being injured against Nebraska. But with Durham potentially sidelined, the responsibility to contain Edwards on defense and generate offense for IU will still be with Phinisee, freshman guard Romeo Langford and junior guard Devonte Green.

Saturday also marks the first time Phinisee will play in Mackey Arena as a college player. A graduate of McCutcheon High School in Lafayette, Indiana, Phinisee is the first IU scholarship recruit from the city since 1948.

“I know there’s going to be a lot of people supporting me there,” Phinisee said. “There’s going to be a lot of boos too. So, ready for it.”

3. The interior matchups will help decide the game.

While the focus may be on the matchup between Edwards against Langford, Miller also said the interior play of Purdue will be something IU needs to be mindful of.

After seeing limited time to start the season, freshman forward Trevion Williams has played 20 or more minutes in Purdue’s last three games. He’s scored a combined 38 points in those games, including a career best 16 points in Purdue’s win Tuesday against Rutgers.

“You can tell that they are starting to trust him a lot more,” Miller said. “He gives them an added dimension because he’s got great hands. He’s a terrific offensive rebounder. He’s skilled and nimble.”

Williams is also a dominant rebounding presence, tallying double-digit rebounds in each of the last three games.

To combat Williams, Miller singled out a quartet of forwards – freshmen Jake Forrester and Damezi Anderson, along with sophomore forward Clifton Moore and junior forward De’Ron Davis – as depth players who can contribute in short bursts of game action for the Hoosiers.

Tipoff between IU and Purdue is scheduled for 2 p.m. Saturday in West Lafayette.

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