Coming off a loss in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, Purdue will welcome Indiana State to West Lafayette, Ind., on Saturday.
The Boilermakers (3-2) dropped a 58-54 defensive struggle at Miami (Fla.) on Tuesday, coughing up an 18-point halftime lead. Purdue went cold with just 22 second-half points on 20.7 percent shooting from the floor.
The 54 points marked Purdue’s fewest in five games this season, and a significant departure from the team’s No. 30 national ranking in adjusted offensive efficiency per KenPom.com metrics.
A positive for Purdue in the loss, and bolstering the Boilermakers ahead of Saturday’s matchup, is the return of Eric Hunter Jr. to the lineup. Hunter sustained a compression fracture in his leg on Nov. 9, but is back in the rotation two weeks ahead of the initially projected 6-to-8-week timetable.
“I just took my rehab really seriously and didn’t try to rush it, even though it seems like it because I came back in half the time,” Hunter said in a postgame interview, following his 11-point performance off the bench.
Hunter’s return adds another option in what has been a balanced approach from Purdue. Zach Edey (14.0), Sasha Stefanovic (12.0), Brandon Newman (11.0) and Trevion Williams (10.0) come into Saturday’s contest averaging in double-figures scoring per game.
Indiana State (1-0) similarly spread the scoring in its season-opening, 80-66 defeat of NCAA Division II program Truman State. Randy Miller Jr., a transfer from North Carolina Central, scored 19 points in the win, while Tre Williams (16), Jake LaRavia (13) and Cooper Neese (10) all also hit double figures.
The Sycamores’ season-opener was delayed to Tuesday as a result of COVID-19 protocols. They were forced to pull out of last month’s Gulf Coast Showcase, and had a Dec. 6 matchup with Indianapolis canceled.
“I didn’t want it to be that ugly, but kind of figured that it would be,” Sycamores coach Greg Lansing said. “You take 10 days off and then five days of just one-on-one time with individuals…Regardless, you’ve got to be ready to go.”
Although Purdue has seen considerably more competition in this pandemic-impacted season, the Boilermakers are not without their own concerns about consistency.
Purdue will be without Jaden Ivey, who has appeared in just one game due to a foot injury. Coupled with Hunter’s absence the first four games, the Boilermakers have faced some reshuffling in the lineup.
“You want the answers to come to you, but when you’re inconsistent, it’s hard to get answers,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said.
–Field Level Media