A season of frustration in West Lafayette saw a sweet victory. Frustration built up for Boilermaker fans seemed to be released with each IU sucks! chant. This Purdue win wasn't one of postseason significance, but that didn't matter to the sold-out crowd. Bragging rights were won for the Boilermakers.
Purdue players took their victory lap around the Keady Court, high-fiving fan after fan. The celebration was just beginning there.
"A game like this is just so important—not only for us, but for our friends, our family and the Purdue family," said senior guard Terone Johnson. "To get it in the fashion like we did, why not celebrate?"
The past four battles between the Boilermakers and Hoosiers saw Indiana win by an average of 23.3 points. A 37-point embarrassment in West Lafayette last season was certainly something Purdue remembered.
This time, it was Purdue doing the punishing.
With one second remaining in the first half, freshman forward Basil Smotherman tipped in his own missed free throw to give Purdue a 38-33 halftime edge. It sparked the Boilermakers to a 19-1 run and a steady path to victory.
"That was just my moment to tip it in," Smotherman said. "I was there in the right place."
Added senior guard Sterling Carter: "It just gave us more energy to come out in the second half and play like Purdue."
In the battle for bragging rights in the crossroads of America, a player from the Pacific Northwest took over. Carter, the Seattle native who joined the Boilermakers for his fifth year of eligibility, scored a team-high 19 points and paced the way for Purdue's effort on both ends of the court.
Carter's coach called him the "difference in the game" for Purdue. The newcomer was just thrilled to be part of a storied rivalry.
"These guys allowed me to see how passionate this rivalry is," Carter said. "I'm just glad to help them get the victory."
Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell led all scorers with 27 points, but that came on just 6-of-17 shooting from the field. The Boilermakers were led by Carter's 19 points while also receiving 16 from Ronnie Johnson and 14 from Terone Johnson.
With each big shot, the crowd became louder. There was no letting up until well after the final horn.
"The crowd is there to get you going, and I thought we fed off them," Painter said.
For Purdue's postseason résumé, Saturday's win will likely be insignificant. But for a fan base starving for success, this was a win to cherish.