Bloomington, Ind. – Muddled in the midst of controversy, it was another feel good night for the IU basketball program.
Indiana got 22 points from Eric Gordon and 19 points and 15 rebounds from D.J. White to come away with a must-have, 77-68 win over Purdue at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers (22-4/11-2) overcame 23 turnovers and a 23-2 deficit in points off turnover to get its eighth straight win over Purdue (21-6/12-2) in Bloomington and moved to within one-half game of the Boilermakers for the Big Ten lead.
For the second straight game, Indiana also managed to set aside the Kelvin Sampson controversy and the uncertainty of his job to secure a win over a top-15 foe. Sampson was once again greeted by a smattering of boos when he was first introduced, but by the time the final horn sounded many in the IU student section were showering him with chants of support.
While Indiana got itself into trouble with its turnovers, it made up for it with a dominating effort on the glass (46-30), and on the defensive end (Purdue shot 34.7 percent) and its ability to make free throws. The Hoosiers made 30 of 34 from the free-throw line, while Purdue made only 11 of 21 free throw attempts.
Those were points of emphasis according to Sampson as IU prepared for its only regular season match-up against Purdue.
"Two things we really wanted to do well were to try to dominate the boards, and we tried really hard to get in the one-on-one as quickly as possible," Sampson said.
White led the way on the glass, posting another double-double despite the fact his availability appeared to be in question due to a knee sprain. But White was cleared to play Monday and responded with a dominating effort in 36 minutes of action.
"I felt if he was going to get out there and play, he was going to be productive," said Purdue Coach Matt Painter. "And he was very productive."
So was Gordon. The Hoosiers' standout freshman made only four of 12 shots, but made 13 of 15 at the free-throw line on his way to his game-high 22.
"Those two have to be the best 1-2 punch in the country," said Painter. "For inside and outside, those guys are great."
But it wasn't only White and Gordon that came up big. Armon Bassett broke out of a shooting slump and knocked down all four of his 3-point attempts on his way to 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists, while Kyle Taber added six points five rebounds and two assists as well.
While Gordon and White carried the Hoosiers, Purdue was done in by its inability to knock down shots. The Big Ten leaders entering the contest with 39.8 percent shooting from behind the 3-point arc, Purdue made only 7-of-29 attempts from deep Tuesday and shot just 34.7 percent overall.
Purdue out-shot the Hoosiers 72-42 thanks in large part to IU's turnovers, but couldn't capitalize.
"We were in position to win this game and we didn't," Painter said.
After Indiana opened a 53-41 lead with 9:46 remaining, Purdue rallied to give itself a chance. Robbie Hummel scored five of his team-high 17 and Scott Martin added eight points during a 14-4 run that whittled the lead to two, 55-53, with 6:46 remaining.
But Indiana regained control of the game at the free-throw line. Indiana went to the free-throw line on each of its next four possessions and made all eight attempts to extend the lead to eight, 65-57. Jamarcus Ellis eventually pushed the lead to 10, 69-59, with a 3-pointer at the 1:58 mark to put Purdue away for good.
While the win was a big one for IU's Big Ten title hopes, the end of the game also returned the focus to Sampson's future. IU AD Rick Greenspan is expected to give his recommendation to President Michael McRobbie on Friday, the same day IU is scheduled to depart for Northwestern.
Sampson said he hasn't given a great deal of thought to whether or not this was his last game on the IU sidelines.
"I expect to be back here Tuesday (for IU's home game against Ohio State)," Sampson said. "We have Northwestern on Saturday. That's all I'm thinking about it.
"My focus has been on this team. I haven't thought about me."
White 6-11 7-8 19, Stemler 1-1 0-0 3, Bassett 4-5 4-5 16, Ellis 2-6 2-2 7, Gordon 4-12 13-15 22, Thomas 0-1 0-0 0, Crawford 0-3 4-4 4, Taber 3-3 0-0 6. Totals 20-42 30-34 77.
Hummel 7-12 0-0 17, Calasan 1-6 1-2 3, Kramer 3-8 2-4 8, Grant 4-13 0-0 10, Moore 3-15 4-5 11, Crump 0-1 0-0 0, Martin 5-13 1-6 12, Green 0-2 1-2 1, Johnson 2-2 2-2 6. Totals 25-72 11-21 68.
3-Pointers: Indiana 76-11 (Bassett 4-4, Stemler 1-1, Ellis 1-2, Gordon 1-3, Crawford 0-1), Purdue 7-29 (Hummel 3-6, Grant 2-6, Moore 1-7, Martin 1-5, Calasan 0-2, Kramer 0-2, Green 0-1). Rebounds: Indiana 46 (White 15), Purdue 30 (Kramer 7). Assists: Indiana 14 (Bassett 4), Purdue 10 (Kramer 5). Turnovers: Indiana 23, Purdue 5. Blocks: Indiana 4, Purdue 2. Steals: Indiana 4, Purdue 14. Attendance: 17,401. Halftime Score: Indiana 32, Purdue 29. Officials: Ted Hillary, Tom O'Neill, Tim Higgins.
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