WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana earned the biggest blowout victory in its series with Purdue since 1992 and won by a bigger margin than any previous Boilermaker opponent at Mackey Arena, whipping Purdue 97-60 in front of 14,845 in West Lafayette.
It’s Indiana’s third straight win in the series after five straight losses prior to last season. The 37-point blowout is the No. 3 Hoosiers’ ninth win by 30 or more this season, but the first in conference play. It’s also their fifth straight road win going back to last season, and it sets up a titanic clash with No. 1 Michigan on Saturday in Bloomington with ESPN’s College Gameday coming to town.
WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Sophomore center Cody Zeller had his struggles against Purdue’s A.J. Hammons, surrendering 30 points to the freshman on the defensive end, but he also posted a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds, making all seven of his free throws. Senior forward Christian Watford had 17 points, knocking down four 3-pointers and also playing strong defense on the wing and in the post.
Junior guard Victor Oladipo continued his sublime stretch with 17 points, six rebounds, three steals, two assists and a monster block. Freshman guard Yogi Ferrell played just 19 minutes because of foul trouble, but still hit three 3-pointers and finished with 11 points and three assists. Senior guard Jordan Hulls shot just 3-for-10 from the field, but still finished with 10 points. Junior swingman Will Sheehey had seven points and a career high six assists.
Senior forward Derek Elston also returned to action and hit a 3-pointer as well as two free throws to finish with five points in seven minutes.
Hammons scored 30 of Purdue’s 60 points. Freshman point guard Ronnie Johnson had 13 points, but no one else had more than four points.
WHY DID IT HAPPEN: The Hoosiers weren’t firing on all cylinders at all times, but at some point everything they wanted to work worked.
It took them a while to start hitting shots, but they eventually started raining. Indiana was 13-for-32 in the first half and five of 15 from beyond the 3-point arc, but then shot 20-for-35 in the second half and drilled seven of the 10 3-pointers they attempted. When they weren’t shooting lights out in the first half, though, they were rebounding and getting to the free throw line. They hit 16 of 17 first-half free throws and also won the rebounding battle 24-16. They got 10 offensive rebounds as opposed to just nine defensive rebounds for Purdue. Those turned into 16 second-chance points in the first half.
Defensively, the Hoosiers opted against doubling down in the post and that certainly made it more difficult to guard Hammons, who finished 10-for-14 from the field and 10-for-12 from the line. However, it kept them from facing the same situations they did against Michigan State when post doubles allowed Spartans center Derrick Nix to find open shooters and beat the Hoosiers that way. Purdue finished 22-for-55 from the field, but players not named Hammons were 12-for-41 (29.2 percent) and the Boilermakers were just 2-for-8 from beyond the arc. Freshman guard Ronnie Johnson had 13 points and five assists but no one else scored more than four points.
Indiana also caused 18 turnovers and had 10 steals. That led to 20 points off turnovers, and generally sped the game up. The Hoosiers only scored six true fast break points, but the Boilermakers often just ran to the rim on defense and left shooters open in transition for 3-pointers.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: This game was a testament to Indiana’s focus. Their win over Michigan State re-established the Hoosiers as one of the two Big Ten frontrunners with Michigan. And of course, Saturday’s game with the Wolverines will be one of the most anticipated in college basketball this season with ESPN’s College Gameday on the way in. That gave Wednesday night’s game all of the markings of a trap game, but the Hoosiers didn’t play down to Purdue’s level at all. Though the Boilermakers aren’t as restrictive and slow-paced as, say, Wisconsin, but they don’t play nearly at Indiana’s tempo either. The Hoosiers dictated pace, took control of the game, and as junior guard Victor Oladipo said, they put their foot on the gas and didn’t take it off. It doesn’t necessarily portend anything for Saturday’s potentially epic tilt, but it shows the Hoosiers are where they want to be mentally, and they’re also where they want to be record-wise at 19-2.
WHO SAID WHAT:
“To win here, you’ve gotta really be on top of your game. It’s not just the offensive and defensive execution. It’s the attitude. It’s the energy, it’s the mental toughness. Our guys had that and they have great respect for Purdue. There’s no doubt about that. The one thing that stood out to me that stood out to us as a team. We had to win the rebounding game and we had to do a good job with the basketball. … They were 72-2 in Matt (Painter’s) time here when they win the rebounding game and they win the turnover game. Fortunately tonight, we won both of those. I think that’s got a lot to do with the victory. The respect for Purdue, the respect for Matt and the players, it brings a little bit more to the table. Obviously the rivalry is big, but I think the respect factor that you play with, knowing you have to be on top of your game to be able to not only compete to win against a team like his, a team like that, is really high. We got a lot of very good basketball from a lot of people. Our defense was excellent, we had 56 deflections. There were some things we’ll see on the film that we’ve gotta do a better job of. We didn’t double the post tonight. We didn’t have enough ball pressure, and at certain times we didn’t play the post the right way and A.J. Hammons showed what he’s capable of. But our guys, they never took their foot off the gas pedal, which is really, really important for us as a team to take the next step.”
“We just kept taking what the defense was giving us. We kept moving the ball. I thought our ball movement and ball reversal was even better in the second half, but I think we had a very good balance in the second half of playing at the rim, playing in the lane and also getting some 3’s. Bottom line is the ball’s gotta move for us. It’s gotta move in the break and it’s gotta move in the half court. When we live in the first side, we’re not very good. The other thing we don’t do a very good job of when we play on the first side is rebound. When the ball is moving, when the ball is going on the second and third side, that increases our rebounding, it increases our offensive rebounding and gives us a chance at second-chance points and that’s all a part of getting to the foul line.”
“He doesn’t like sitting on that bench. He’s getting better all the time. Every time I turned around the last couple of days, he was in the gym. … We need him in there. We really do. But he’s gotta be ready all the time.”
“They just played with a resolve. They were very authoritative on their drives and the passes. Our defense was up and active. We had 56 deflections. We’re getting more active defensively in the Big Ten, which I think is really really important. And they just kept moving the ball. The ball really didn’t stop.”
“It’s huge. It’s a tough place to play, especially in the Big Ten. One of the toughest to play in the Big Ten. It’s great for us to come out and put our foot on the gas pedal and play as a high level as a team.”
“It was huge for us. We wanted to take advantage of their turnovers and their mistakes. For us to turn them over 18 times means we had a great defensive mentality and we just have to keep doing that in every game this season.”
“Our big guys did a great job. Christian and Cody did a great job of getting to the line and making themselves known from the beginning and getting to the line. It opened the floor up for everybody.”
“We were just being aggressive. Attacking whether it was off the dribble or getting it inside. Everybody was on the attack. That’s what we had to do inside.”
“We just kept our foot on the gas. … There was no dropoff tonight.”
“I was just excited that we were able to play a full 40 minute game. I was glad that we were able to do that because we’re gonna need that in order for us to win the games that we want.”