Bloomington, Ind. – Knowing they were having trouble putting the ball in the basket, the Indiana Hoosiers (12-3, 4-1 Big Ten) had to turn up the heat on the defensive side of the ball to knock off their in-state rival the Purdue Boilermakers (7-10, 1-5) and keep pace in the Big Ten.
After scoring just 26 first-half points, Indiana came out of the break with some full-court pressure to not only keep the Boilermakers in check, but also kick-start the offense. The extra pressure helped IU score 12 points off of 10 second-half Purdue turnovers while also generating 12 fast-break points.
Purdue had 16 turnovers in the game, including 10 by the backcourt alone.
"I thought we started off slow again offensively but our defense was pretty good," said Indiana head coach Mike Davis. "Defensively I thought we did enough to keep us in the game, we just weren't ready to shoot the basketball."
Indiana overcame another slow start in the first half after scoring just 13 points in the first 14 minutes of play. But the defense limited Purdue to just 15 points over the same period and Indiana used a 13-7 run to end the half to go up by four, 26-22.
While the biggest concern entering the game was the all-around play of forward Matt Kiefer, Indiana also wanted to keep the Boiler guards from getting untracked as well. By game's end, the Boilers' three starting guards - Chris Hartley, Chris Lutz and Bryant Dillon - combined for five turnovers compared to just two assists while shooting 4-of-10 from the field. Adding guards Korey Spates and Marcus Green, the Purdue backcourt finished the night shooting 5-for-18 with 10 turnovers and just three assists.
"The three assists to ten turnovers is more important than the shooting," said Purdue head coach Matt Painter. "We have to make better decisions. We didn't win the game because we never got in position to win the game. When you shoot yourself in the foot, you turn the ball over and you can't handle pressure, you're not going to win games."
The Indiana pressure in the second half slowed the Purdue offense to a standstill. After tying the game at 30 with just over 15 minutes left in the game, the Boilers scored just four points over the next seven minutes as Indiana went on a 13-4 run.
"In the second half I think we picked up the defense a lot," said sophomore forward Robert Vaden, who had two of Indiana's eight steals. "In the first half we didn't think we did a very good job defensively. Coach Davis talked to us at halftime about picking up our defense and I think we responded to it well."
Senior Sean Kline came off the bench to give an added spark to the Indiana post defense. The Hoosiers allowed 26 points in the paint, but Kline was able to cause the Boilers to adjust to his presence. Kline was the chief player in a series of events that gave Indiana 13-point lead with less than five minutes to go.
After Vaden hit a 3-pointer with the shot clock running down, Purdue worked the ball inside to senior Matt Kiefer for what looked to be an easy layup until Kline came from behind to block the Kiefer basket. On the very next play a wide-open Roderick Wilmont knocked down a three to give Indiana the largest lead of the game to that point.
"That play was huge," said Wilmont. "It was a great defensive play by Kline and then Vaden got the ball and I spaced out to the corner. I was wide open and I knocked it down."
Indiana shot just 39.1 percent from the field in the game, hitting 18 of 46 shots. It marked the lowest shooting percentage for the Hoosiers this season and the first time they shot below 40 percent on the year. The previous season-low was the 40.8 percent Indiana shot in the win against Illinois.
"We were just missing open shots and we weren't executing the way we should," said Wilmont. "But we won the game and that's all that matters. We started playing defense in the second half then we started scoring off transition. That's what we got back to doing."
Indiana allowed Purdue to shoot only 34 percent from the field in game, including 3-of-12 from behind the arc, and had eight steals. That marks the most steals for the Hoosiers since having eight in the win against Eastern Michigan and the lowest a team has shot from the field since the Hoosiers' win at Charlotte when the 49ers made 26.6 percent.
"That win is a tribute to our defense," said Kline. "We have to have that defensive mentality to compete in this league. That's what the Big Ten is all about. If we can keep people in check and hold them defensively, then we can beat anyone."
IU Turns up Defensive Heat, Cools Down Purdue
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