In the first half, Purdue couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn and in the second half, Purdue couldn’t get the defensive stops it needed. This amounted to Indiana snapping a five game losing streak to Purdue and handing Purdue just its third loss in Mackey Arena in the last two years.
Purdue played Carroll and Marcius on Cody Zeller and each of the Boilermaker bigs got into early foul trouble. Playing a small lineup for much of the game, the Boilermakers were outrebounded 52-35.
Getting killed on the boards and shooting a horrible 29.6% of field goals are two of the three reasons why Purdue lost against their hated rivals. Another reason is that Indiana found its way to the free throw line and made 29 of 35 of their free throw opportunities.
Despite the ugly statistics, Purdue was in great position to tie things up with under 3 minutes to play. Trailing by just 4, Lewis Jackson drove to the basket after stealing the ball from Jordan Hulls. Will Sheehey blocked Jackson’s layup attempt though and Watford was fouled on the ensuing scramble for the ball. Once Watford hit his two free throws, Purdue folded.
It was disappointing to see Purdue come back from being down by 11 to falter down the stretch. Even though Purdue scored 39 of its 61 points in the second half and looked much improved offensively after the break, they could not stop Victor Oladipo and company from scoring at will.
Cody Zeller was played physical, but was still effective. He earned his points at the line and efficiently scored 16 points. Oladipo and freshman Remy Abel scored their career highs: 23 and 13, respectively.
The bright spots were Kelsey Barlow’s aggressiveness getting to the rim (12 points), Hummel finding his way to the free throw line (8-9 from FT line, 16 points overall), and DJ Byrd having the hot hand and hitting three 3s (15 points overall).
Despite all of that, it was a game where Lewis Jackson had a minor impact (4 assists, 2 points on 1-10 shooting), the team only shot 5 of 21 from behind the arc, and Terone Johnson’s reliable jumper seemed to rim out (2 of 12 from the field for 4 points). That kind of play won’t cut it against a top 20 team.
Going forward, Purdue (15-8) is going to have to pull some shocking upsets to make the NCAA Tourney. Their upcoming schedule is as follows: at Ohio State, Northwestern, at Illinois, Michigan State, Nebraska, at Michigan, Penn State, and at Indiana. Of course, the Boilers could just win the whole Big Ten Tourney to secure their spot in the NCAAs. At this point, I’m not sure which is more likely: winning enough games for an at large birth or winning the Big Ten Tourney.