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Indiana-Purdue Preview

AP - Sports

Indiana rose as high as No. 7 in the country on the heels of a 15-1 start that included wins over teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2.

In the four weeks since that poll, the Hoosiers have done little to demonstrate they're worthy of consideration as one of the nation's top teams.

The 20th-ranked Hoosiers would likely fall out of the rankings altogether if they can't snap their longest losing streak against in-state rival Purdue in nearly four decades Saturday night in West Lafayette.

Indiana (17-6, 5-6 Big Ten) won 15 of its first 16 games and claimed the No. 7 spot in the Jan. 9 poll, its highest ranking since it was No. 7 on Jan. 21, 2008. Proclamations that the program had been restored to prominence seem to have been premature, however, as the Hoosiers have dropped five of seven since, with the wins coming against lowly Penn State and middling Iowa.

Indiana gave up the game's first 13 points and trailed by as many as 20 in Wednesday's 68-56 loss at No. 23 Michigan.

"At the start of the game, we allowed a very good team to play like a great team because our players came out playing like they had seen a ghost," Indiana coach Tom Crean said. "You cannot come out and not have a physical presence and give that kind of space to a team like Michigan."

Crean, in his fourth season at the helm, is still looking for a successful gameplan for Purdue. Indiana is 0-5 in the series under Crean, losing those games by an average of 12.2 points.

The Hoosiers shot 36.6 percent while losing two to the Boilermakers by double figures last season, including a 67-53 road defeat. Indiana hasn't suffered a losing streak this long in the series since dropping seven straight Jan. 16, 1968-Feb. 26, 1972.

In addition, the Hoosiers are 2-31 on the road in Big Ten play under Crean. Both wins came at Penn State.

Indiana, though, is ranked heading into a matchup with Purdue for the first time since its last win in the series Feb. 19, 2008. Meanwhile, the Boilermakers (15-7, 5-4) come into a game against Indiana unranked for the first time since Feb. 15, 2007.

Purdue does have momentum on its side. Robbie Hummel made a baseline jumper with 12 seconds left to lift the team to a 58-56 road win over Northwestern last Saturday.

The Boilermakers didn't play a midweek game, so they should be rested for what they anticipate will be a competitive rivalry game.

"They're much improved," said Hummel, who had 21 points and seven rebounds in his last game against Indiana on Feb. 4, 2010. "They're kind of struggling a little bit right now, but I don't think it really matters whether they're improved or not, because when Indiana comes in here, as they always say with rivalry games, you throw out the records. Regardless of whether they're extremely successful this year or not at all, I think it would be a tough game."

While Purdue might rely heavily on Hummel, Indiana will likely ride freshman forward Cody Zeller, who leads the Hoosiers with 15.0 points and 6.3 rebounds per game and ranks among the nation's best in field-goal percentage (65.2).

Zeller, a Washington, Ind., native who was recruited by Purdue, has been held to 11.0 points and 55.3 percent shooting in six Big Ten road games.

Indiana may not have Verdell Jones III in the lineup after he missed the second half Wednesday with a bruised shoulder. The senior has started all of Indiana's games this season.

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