Purdue's vaunted senior class made their presence felt at Assembly Hall Wednesday night, even without Robbie Hummel. Any Hoosier upset hopes were thwarted by E'twaun Moore and JaJuan Johnson, who combined for 37 points and 15 rebounds to secure the season sweep of Indiana. Inside we discuss the key events and storylines from the game.
The Hoosiers deserve some credit for a spirited, albeit short-lived, comeback in the second half. Jordan Hulls
spearheaded the charge with a pull-up three point jumper followed closely by an old-fashioned three point play that cut a 13-point lead to just five. Moments later he drove to the basket for a slicing lay-in to put the Hoosiers within range at 52-49 with just over ten minutes to go. However, the next possession would mark just one of several occasions when Purdue senior JaJuan Johnson
would step up at the right moment.
The Boilermaker big man immediately countered Hulls' scoring run with a turnaround jumper to quiet the crowd and dampen the IU rally. After Victor Oladipo
got an offensive rebound and putback to again pull IU within three points at the 8:40 mark, Johnson quickly went to work on Purdue's next possession by posting up and scoring inside while being fouled by Bobby Capobianco
. One free throw later Purdue was back up 57-51 and en route to an 11-2 run that would seal the game.
When It Was Over
Purdue's aforementioned 11-2 run ended with an E'twaun Moore dunk with 3:45 left that gave them a 65-53 lead. Indiana could never recover.
Despite shooting just 4-13 from the field, Christian Watford
was the Hoosiers most consistent offensive threat and his work on the glass was worthy of praise. He would finish with a team-high 18 points and nine rebounds and would've had a greater impact if not hampered by his bandaged left wrist. Late in the second half he struggled going left and securing the ball in traffic, surely a byproduct of his surgically repaired wrist. Nevertheless, he was the Hoosiers only constant offensive threat when on the floor (Jordan Hulls struggled early, but finished strong) and his aggressiveness is evident in his 7-8 mark at the free throw line. The rest of the team combined for only 12 attempts at the line.
Why They Lost
Experience played a big role in this one as the Purdue seniors took over the game when it mattered. Johnson and Moore combined for 37 points on 14-25 shooting and added 15 rebounds, six assists, and two blocks. Simply put, Indiana had no one to match their talent or maturity and it showed. The Boilermakers got just enough out of their supporting cast, including big games from D.J. Byrd
(11 pts, 9 rebs), Terone Johnson
(3 pivotal first half threes), and Lewis Jackson
(game-high six assists and smothering D), to supplement the outstanding games turned in by their Big Two.
It's not a huge surprise due to the defensive prowess of Lewis Jackson and the Boilermakers as a whole, but Hulls early struggles still stood out. That's because he was missing shots he makes with great efficiency in the first half, going 1-6 for just two points. Purdue harassed him all over the court, especially Jackson, but Hulls overcame that defense in the second half to make his mark on the game. He was the big driver behind an impressive IU rally midway through the final half, but his absence in the first half hurt the Hoosiers.
Most Promising Development
After allowing Purdue to shoot 62 percent from the field in the opening half and knock down 8-12 three-point shots, the Hoosiers made big strides in the second half. Whether it was the small halftime tweaks to their defense or just a re-dedication to fighting through screens and closing out strong, Indiana's defense after the break and before it was night and day. Purdue would hit only one of the 12 three-pointers they shot in the second half and that helped stopped what would have been a huge blowout had their first half shooting continued unimpeded.
Most Concerning Development
Junior Tom Pritchard
started strong and looked like he was on his way to putting in another fine defensive effort in the post and on the glass (six rebounds, all in the first half) against Purdue this season. But things snowballed quickly for Pritchard in the second half and he was quickly hampered with foul trouble that made him a non-factor. During the first 30 seconds of the final half he quickly picked up his third and fourth fouls and was sent to the bench, not to return until the final stretch run. Many had hoped Pritchard had turned the corner with his foul troubles, but this was a throwback performance that harkened back to his old habits. What made it more concerning is that his replacements (Elston and Capobianco) would finish with more combined fouls (6) than points and rebounds (5). Not a good showing from the beleaguered Hoosier front line to put it very lightly.
There's certainly no rest for the weary in Indiana's gauntlet run through the Big Ten's finest to close out their regular season. Next up is a bruising match-up with Ohio State in Columbus. Staying close in that one would constitute a small moral victory and pulling off the upset would be Bobby Plump-like. The Hoosiers need to focus on gaining some form of momentum in that game, though, for their return to Assembly Hall next week to take on the Badgers, a team they fought hard in Madison earlier this year.