BLOOMINGTON-On an afternoon of college basketball upsets, No. 11 Indiana avoided falling prey to its arch-nemesis.
While Duke and Pitt were busy falling from the ranks of the unbeaten and Wisconsin was inexplicably losing at home to North Dakota State, Indiana avoided a similar fate thanks to an 11-2 second-half spurt that turned a 43-39 nail-biter into a 54-41 margin, and Indiana escaped with a 62-49 win over Purdue.
The win moved Indiana (12-3/4-1) into a first-place tie with Wisconsin in the Big Ten, while Purdue (7-10/1-5) dropped its 19th consecutive road game over the course of the last three seasons.
While the matchup seemed to be a mismatch on paper, Purdue stayed close until late. Indiana led by four at halftime, only to see Purdue tie the game three minutes into the second half. A 13-2 Indiana run gave the Hoosiers a 43-32 lead with 9:06 remaining, but Purdue's Marcus White scored four points and Matt Keifer three to close the lead to four, 43-39, with 7:27 left.
But spurred by some defensive pressure that produced a couple of turnovers and some fastbreak opportunities, Indiana answered back. Robert Vaden got Indiana's run started with a 3-pointer. After the team's exchanged turnovers, Marshall Strickland picked off a Marcus Green pass and led Rod Wilmont for a fastbreak basket to extend the lead to nine, 48-39, with 5:28 left.
After a pair of Gary Ware free throws cut the lead to seven, Vaden hit a 3-pointer from the top of the key over the arms of 6-10 Matt Keifer to push the lead to 10. After a Kiefer miss on the other end Wilmont scored on a 3-pointer in transition to open the lead to 13, 54-41, with 4:19 remaining, and Purdue would get no closer than eight the rest of the way.
"Our offense is better when our defense is good," said IU Coach Mike Davis. "When our defense picked up, we were able to push it in transition."
After going 1-of-9 against Illinois and 1-of-4 in the first half against Purdue, Vaden finished with 12 second-half points to help lift the Hoosiers to their sixth straight win over the Boilermakers in Bloomington. Marco Killingsworth added a team-high 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Wilmont added 14 points off the bench.
Davis thinks some of Vaden's recent struggles have been a result of his move from the power forward position to the small forward spot since he began starting Ben Allen against Illinois. But Allen sat for the entire second half and Vaden got untracked offensively after moving back to the power forward position.
"Starting Vaden at the ‘3' has really affected him, because he's a match-up problem when he's at the 4," said Davis. "He's been in a different role the last two games, and he didn't pick it up until the end tonight."
All indications are Vaden will be back starting at the power forward spot Tuesday when Indiana travels to Iowa City for a 9 p.m. match-up with No. 25 Iowa. Davis said he still intends to use Allen to back-up Killingsworth, but he thinks Indiana's best lineup features four perimeter players surrounding either Killingworth, Allen or Sean Kline in the post.
"(Ben) just has to defend," said Davis. "He's a very good basketball player, but we're playing games now that guys have to play the way they're supposed to. He'll be okay. He just needs to grow and mature. He's a young guy."
Killingsworth, meanwhile, recorded his fifth double-double of the season and his second in a row despite facing a slew of double and triple teams. Purdue's pressure did force him into six turnovers, but Davis said afterwards that it was obvious Purdue's plan was to keep the 6-8, 270-pound forward from scoring at will.
"Matt Painter had a game plan that Marco isn't going to beat us," said Davis.
Killingsworth certainly played a part in the Boilermakers' loss, but Purdue created some of its own problems as well.
Purdue was done in by not only its 34 percent shooting, but also its 10 second-half turnovers that resulted in 12 points off turnovers for Indiana. That was particularly the case during Indiana's two big second-half runs.
"Until we can get our guys to value the ball each possession…we don't have guys that understand that," said Purdue Coach Matt Painter.
Purdue was led by Marcus White, who scored 19 points off the bench. The team's leading scorer entering the game, Matt Kiefer, was limited to seven points on 2-of-11 shooting. Kiefer had plenty of quality looks close to the basket – including a breakway dunk that appeared to go in the basket and then back out – but couldn't manage to convert many of the opportunities.
"We were trying to get it inside an attack Killingsworth, try to get him into foul trouble as much as score," said Painter. "We wanted to try to make him work on the defensive end, make him work the entire game.
"We just didn't finish and didn't make enough shots. We didn't make enough to make them adjust. I think that was the key."
Killingsworth 5-7 8-9 18, Allen 0-1 0-0 0, Strickland 2-10 2-2 8, Vaden 5-12 2-2 14, Monroe 1-4 2-4 5, Wilmont 4-9 4-9 14, Ratliff 1-1 0-0 3, Kline 0-0 0-0 0, Calloway 0-2 0-2 0. Totals 18-46 18-28 62.
Ware 2-7 3-4 7, Kiefer 2-11 3-5 7, Hartley 0-1 0-0 0, Lutz 2-4 0-1 5, Dillon 2-5 1-2 6, Spates 1-6 2-2 5, Green 0-2 0-1 0, White 7-11 5-6 19, Carroll 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 16-47 14-21 49.
Halftime Score: Indiana 26, Purdue 22. 3-Pointers: Indiana 8-19 (Strickland 2-5, Vaden 2-6, Monroe 1-1, Wilmont 2-6, Ratliff 1-1), Purdue 3-12 (Kiefer 0-3, Lutz 1-3, Dillon 1-2, Spates 1-3, Green 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 38 (Killingsworth 10), Purdue 31 (Kiefer 10). Assists: Indiana 9 (Killingsworth 3, Vaden 3), Purdue 6 (Kiefer 2, Hartley 2). Turnovers: Indiana 13 (Killingsworth 6), Purdue 16 (Dillon 4). Blocks: Indiana 4 (Killingsworth, Strickland, Vaden, Kline), Purdue 5 (Ware 2, Kiefer 2, Lutz 1). Steals: Indiana 8 (Strickland 2, Vaden 2), Purdue 7 (Dillon 3). Attendance: 17,316. Officials: Mike Sanzere, Sid Rodeheffer, Paul Janssen.
Sluggish Hoosiers Slip Past Boilers, 62-49
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