Back in the 3rd week of December, 1998, Bob Knight and Gene Keady roamed — generally scowling — the sidelines for their respective teams.

The rivalry between the schools, Indiana and Purdue, on the south and north halves of the State of Indiana was at a peak, with them vying for not only Big Ten championships but playing well on the national stage, too. And until this week, it marked the last time the programs were both ranked in the top-10 of the AP Poll. Monday’s release had the undefeated Boilermakers, who were coming off back-to-back top-10 victories, jumping to No. 5 in the country, while the Hoosiers moved up to 10th. The rivalry, which has been dominated by Purdue in recent seasons, is back on.

For the Boilermakers, it was a huge jump, as they zoomed up 19 places to No. 5. A year ago around this time, Purdue was ranked No. 1 in the country, but it was a brief stay at the top, as it lost the following week. For the Boilermakers to be back in the top-5 already is impressive, considering the personnel lost after last year, such as NBA lottery pick Jaden Ivey and big man Trevion Williams. Matt Painter hopes they’ll better handle the pressure now.

Purdue will take on Florida State in Tallahassee tonight in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge.

“You have to be able to go into a game and understand you’re going to get people’s best shot,” Painter told media Tuesday. “I don’t know if we quite grasped that (last year). I don’t know if our capacity was there. But that’s human behavior, right? It’s natural, ‘Hey, they beat Gonzaga and Duke,’ so we’ve got to be more ready.”

Challenge ends

The Challenge comes to an end tonight, after 23 years of battling between the 2 premier basketball conferences in the country.

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ESPN announced the end of the series, which started in 1999, on Monday, an unsurprising move considering the Big Ten signed a new TV contract earlier this year that does not include the sports cable network. There are 6 more games on the schedule tonight, after the ACC took 5 of the first 8 over the last couple nights. One game tonight features Michigan State making the short trip to Notre Dame.

“We’ve had some unique experiences, some great opportunities,” MSU coach Tom Izzo told media about the Challenge. “I’m going to miss it, I think, but I’m sure we’ll come up with something that will fill that void, and see what happens.”

Overall, the ACC holds a 12–8–3 record in the series, although the B1G has won the last 3. The end of the event will give schools more flexibility in scheduling, says Painter, which might be fine for top-tier programs but could hurt the conference overall.

“In reality, if you can be consistent, especially if you can get as consistent as someone like Michigan State, you should schedule like Michigan State, because it normally helps not only Michigan State but it helps our league,” Painter said. “If you’re fortunate enough to beat them, that win really helps because they have such a strong NET because (Izzo) schedules so tough.

“If you can get more people doing that in your league, you’re going to grow your league and get more teams in the Tournament.”

TJD nicked up

Trayce Jackson-Davis says he’s playing when Indiana takes on North Carolina in a marquee game in the Challenge tonight in Assembly Hall.

The All-America forward just likely won’t be at 100 percent. Jackson-Davis left Indiana’s victory against Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 20 early, then sat out the win over Little Rock before returning to the court for the Hoosiers’ win over Jackson State on Friday. It appears he’s not only dealing with a thumb injury that nagged him during the preseason but also a sore lower back or bruised tailbone.

“Obviously I’m not 100 percent, but I will be playing (Wednesday),” Jackson-Davis told media the day before the game. “Obviously it’s a huge game. (Not playing) is out the door. I am playing, so you might want to get that out there that I am playing.”

Despite the injuries, Jackson-Davis’ performance hasn’t been too adversely affected; he’s averaging  team-highs of 18.8 points and 8 rebounds in about 25 minutes, while shooting 76 percent from the field. It helps, too, that IU has more depth this season than in recent years, and freshman Malik Reneau is providing big-time minutes off the bench.

“Injuries occur, everybody won’t probably make it through the season, you hope they will, but that’s not always the case,” coach Mike Woodson said during his Zoom call with media Tuesday. “So it has to be the next guy in line to be ready to play. That’s how I look at it. When guys get hurt, there’s not much you can do about it. You can’t wait on them. You just have to push guys who are ready, and get them (more) ready to go.”

Murray’s big night

Iowa’s Kris Murray isn’t having an issue filling his brother’s shoes.

In the Hawkeyes’ 81-65 win over Georgia Tech on Tuesday night, Murray rolled in career-highs of 31 points and 20 rebounds, becoming the 1st Iowa player to hold such a stat line since Bruce King  in 1977. But more than that, he’s the 1st college basketball player to go for 30 and 20 with 4 3-pointers in a game since Kevin Durant did so in 2007.

“A lot of guys can get 30 points,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said after the game. “But very few people are going to get 20. Most guys that are getting 30 (points) aren’t rebounding. So I think that’s impressive.”