Bragging rights in the birth state of basketball transformed shades from black and gold to crimson and cream. Indiana beat Purdue 78-61 at Mackey Arena to end a five game losing streak that extended over almost three years.
“To me, it looked like it meant more to them,” said Purdue head coach Matt Painter. “I thought they were more engaged…They deserved to win the game. They were tougher than us. They were quicker to the basketball and definitely deserved to win it.”
The Hoosiers came into the game needing to prove not only that they can beat the Boilers, but that they can win on the road. Indiana had lost four straight away from Bloomington.
The Hoosiers used a pair of 13-0 runs to take control. Those surges, along with the play of Victor Oladipo, who scored a career-high 23-points, helped Indiana beat their arch rival for the first time since February of 2008.
“The rivalry, it grows on you the more you are here,” said Purdue guard Lewis Jackson, who lost to IU for the first time in his career.
“Having the chance to be one of the first people in history to go undefeated (against Indiana) and then it gets taken away, it sucks. But, you take your hat off to them because they have been at the bottom. They’ve lost to us three years in a row. They are tired of hearing it. You just see the maturity and fight over there as a team.”
Despite turning the ball over just three times, Purdue’s offense was anemic. The Boilers shot just 21-71 from the field and were 5-21 from three point-range (they were 0-11 in the first half).
“Bad shots are turnovers too. They don’t show up in this box score, but bad shots are turnovers too,” said Painter. “You go in there and fly in there and just throw one up, it goes as a missed field goal, but it really is a turnover. The other team is getting the basketball. We just have to be consistent.”
Purdue found its rhythm somewhat in the second half, particularly D.J Byrd. The Junior hit three triples to help keep the Boilers close. But, he fouled out with 5:32 to play and Indiana was able to hold off the push from their nemisis primarily because of two clutch plays, one on defense and one on offense.
Down by four with just over two minutes left, Lewis Jackson came away with a steal and appeared to have an open layup, but Will Sheehey tracked him down and blocked the shot off the backboard. One minute later, Remy Abell drilled a corner three that served as the dagger in Purdue’s comeback hopes. The Hoosiers finished the game on a 13-0 run.
“There are watershed moments in a game that you can point back to and say that these were crucial parts of the game and that block was one of them,” said Crean. “And Remy (Abell) making the shot was one of them.”
Indiana finished 29-35 from the charity stripe. They shot and made 15 more freebies than Purdue.
“They were the aggressor. A lot of times coaches get upset about one team taking a higher volume of free throws than the other and they think they got robbed. I don’t think that was the case tonight. I thought Indiana was the aggressor.” said Painter.
Purdue’s Robbie Hummel put up a double-double with 16-points and ten-rebounds in the losing effort, but was just 4-14 from the floor. Kelsey Barlow chipped in 12 off the bench.
“You’re going to struggle. I just want guys to stay together and fight,” said Painter. “We have to do a better job of fighting our opponent and just not giving into things.”
The loss keeps Purdue (15-8, 5-5) winless against ranked opponents this season and is another aperture on the team’s NCAA tournament resume. The Boilermakers haven’t missed the Big Dance since 2006, but with four games remaining against teams currently ranked in the top 25, including a trip to Bloomington, Purdue’s dreams of being in the field of 68 are growing increasingly more difficult.