IU knocks off Purdue on Senior Night, 85-74

The last game in Assembly Hall in Indiana’s enchanted season of renewal couldn’t have ended any other way, could it?

It certainly would’ve spoiled the narrative some if the Hoosiers would’ve suffered their second loss in Bloomington this year and for it to happen against their in-state rival. And it certainly wouldn’t have been quite as sweet for Indiana if the Hoosiers weren’t able to send in together in the game’s final minute their five seniors, the ones who willingly signed up to rebuild a kingdom in ruin and finally got to see it rise again in their final season.

But the Hoosiers’ 85-74 win over Purdue in front of 17,472 at Assembly Hall made sure this chapter of the story book ended the way the fairy tale writers would have it. Despite a second-half charge from the Boilermakers that was just enough to make the Hoosiers nervous, the double-digit lead in the final minute allowed Indiana to check in seniors Kory Barnett, Verdell Jones, Daniel Moore, Tom Pritchard and Matt Roth with 22 seconds to go, as they exchanged hugs with each other and all five players who were coming off the floor to allow them their Assembly Hall swan song.

“It’s a special feeling,” Jones said. “It’s something I’m going to definitely remember. Just walking off together. Beating our rival and a sold-out crowd. That’s a great feeling.”

Said Indiana coach Tom Crean: “It’s a fitting day. It’s a fitting day for these guys to have a win like this. To beat a rival like this, to beat a team that was arguably playing as well as anyone in the last couple of weeks. And not just in the Big Ten, but around the country.”

The win over the Boilermakers ( is important for the Hoosiers’ standing in a number of ways heading into Thursday’s Big Ten Tournament. The win clinches Indiana (24-7 overall, 11-7 in the Big Ten) the No. 5 seed, and they will play No. 12 Penn State at approximately 2 p.m. on Thursday at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. It also gave them their eighth win over an opponent currently in the Top 50 of the Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) which bolsters their resume for NCAA Tournament seeding even further. It allows them to close out the season at Assembly Hall with an 18-1 record.

But it also makes for another feat that this Hoosier team will get to keep with it for eternity, and one that that will mean more to it than many others because of the depths Indiana has seen since 2008 and the way their rivals have taken advantage of them. It means the Hoosiers swept the state, beating Purdue twice in the same season for the first time since 2006 and also claiming wins against Evansville, Butler and Notre Dame.

“This rivalry is often overlooked because of the North Carolina-Duke rivalry, but I think this is the best rivalry in college basketball,” Jones said. “Just to be able to beat them and come in and sweep the state of Indiana, it’s a great feeling.”

The Hoosiers were able to do it without much drama on Sunday because they had scoring coming from everywhere in the first half like they did back in November and December. They got at least three field goals from six different players in the first half, as well as a 3-pointer and three assists from junior point guard Jordan Hulls. They shot a scalding 20-for-30 (66.7 percent) in the first half, including 8-for-14 from beyond the arc. Roth hit all three of his 3-pointers in that frame and sophomore swingman Will Sheehey, who hadn’t hit a 3-pointer since Feb. 9, knocked down two and scored 11 points. The Hoosiers had 12 assists on their 20 field goals, committing just five turnovers.

Their 49 first-half points were second only to the 54 they had against Iowa for the most the Hoosiers had in the first half against a Big Ten opponent this season. They went on a 15-6 run to start the game, then a 13-4 spurt to take a 15-point lead and were up 49-31 at halftime.

“We just wanted to come out being aggressive and that’s what we did,” Hulls said. “We were able to knock a lot of shots in. That’s just moving the ball around and playing good defense and creating turnovers and getting fast break points.”

The Hoosiers weren’t nearly as hot from the field in the second half — shooting 8-for-23 (34.8 percent) — and they also got sloppy on defense, allowing Purdue to shoot 51.6 percent (16-for-31) while also knocking down four 3-pointers. However they continued to keep the Purdue at an arm’s length, knocking down 18 of 23 free throws in the second half.

The Hoosiers finished with four scorers in double figures. Junior forward Christian Watford led the group with 19 points as well as six rebounds and two assists. Sheehey scored 16 points, breaking double figures in a conference game for the first time since the Iowa game on Jan. 29. Freshman forward Cody Zeller had 13 points and seven rebounds and Hulls finished with 10 points and five assists against just one turnover.

Purdue actually put five in double figures. Senior point guard Lewis Jackson scored 17, senior forward Robbie Hummel had 16. Sophomore guard Terone Johnson had 13 points and sharpshooters Ryne Smith and D.J. Byrd had 12 each.

All of that allowed the Boilermakers to cut the deficit to as few as six points with 1:20 to, but the Hoosiers knocked down enough free throws from that point on to keep it from getting any closer.

And that assured that the Hoosiers head into the Big Ten Tournament with a four-game winning streak and seven wins in their last eight games, which should presumably mean momentum.

“it’s good as long as they keep understanding why they have it,” Crean said. “… Our guys need to keep understanding why they’re being successful.”

And why there was so much magic at Assembly Hall in 2011-12.

AUDIO: Jordan Hulls, Christian Watford and Will Sheehey

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 1

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 2

AUDIO: Tom Pritchard, Verdell Jones

30 comments

  1. What a great game! What a great season! 24-7. 5-0 in the state of Indiana. Reason to watch Selection Sunday. Heading into the post-season with hope in our hearts. Congratulation Hoosiers!!! Go IU!!!

  2. Wonder if a portion of this success could have been achieved last season if MC had not ever been injured? I am guessing it could of added up to 4 more W’s. 16-16? Aye.

  3. One of the mysteries to me of this B1G season is why did Hulls and Watford both have such an up and down season?Hulls went from great games to disappearing then reappearing as did Watford. Both are juniors so it seems strange to me.

  4. Real IU fan – there are lots of reasons…

    1) it’s college basketball, and college players are inconsistent as a rule.
    2) neither player is a bona fide star that you would expect to shine every night
    3) they are deeper than they’ve been in years so the offense is naturally going to get spread around more.
    4) ZELLER
    5) Crean ran several offenses this year – a weave, some motion, 4-high, a little flex, and set-based offenses to highlight Zeller and Watford in the post. Depending on the other teams personnel IU featured different offenses and different players all year.

  5. Just a quick comparison from a couple of the best players from the top 2 B1G teams:

    I think most everyone would agree that Appling is MSU’s second best player… He had 12 single-digit scoring games.

    Buford from OSU is a senior, probably their second best player, and the #4 all-time leading scorer in school history, and he has 7 single-digit scoring games this year.

    Watford and Hulls have 10 and 8 respectively…

  6. Geoff— You focused on basketball reasons and I respect that analysis. But my concerns were with perceived mental ups and downs which could be off the court issues as well as basketball issues.These kids don’t live in a vaccuum.

  7. I think that it is a luxury when a team can have many scoring options and they are not reliant on two or three players to put up big numbers every game. In fact, that has been a key to this team’s success.

  8. Sure, I played college ball and understand all the other obligations, as well as just the way life is as a 20 yr old guy… And I’m sure the demands and stresses are multiplied by 10 when you play at IU or any program in the national spotlight.

    I guess what I was saying is I don’t think they were inconsistent, especially for the situation they were in. I think they were at least as consistent as other college basketball players of similar or even more ability.

  9. I’ve never seen a player with any more focus than Jordy. He has developed a Dan Marino-quick release, too. Man, can that kid get a shot off quick.

  10. Try to play the game of basketball with one guy inserted on the floor that is fighting against chemistry, depleting the energy and synergy because he struggles to give up his “chosen one” role, and you’ll also have your share of “ups and downs.” With the added synergy evident when he was absent the lineup, or when “he who shall not be named” had his minutes substantially reduced, we were a much less vulnerable, balanced, and inspired looking team.

  11. I’d love to see Matt Roth back next year but I’m assuming that won’t happen after he was honored yesterday for “senior” night? I understand he COULD gain another year of eligibility if he so chose…He’s a senior academically(actually I believe that he’s already graduated)but is eligible for a medical redshirt season supposedly. Supposedly.

  12. I would also love to see Roth in a Hoosier uniform for one more year. He’s our biggest unsung hero that had a sizable impact on many games we could have come up shy. Izzo found a way to manipulate the system to bring a graduate in Brandon Wood to MSU from Valparaiso University. Surely we can find a way to keep Roth in Bloomington. Great kid. Clutch perimeter shooter. Decent defender. Why on earth wouldn’t we want him for one more year? What if Hulls would transfer? What if Creek’s courageous efforts to get himself back fall short?

  13. After this season, we’ll have no use for the worst defender in Division 1 basketball. Hate to see the kid ride the bench. Crean will likely have a long sit-down with him..They’ll probably be lots of tears and a copy of a Seth Davis article to drive the hard news home. Maybe he could play for a small school like Lamar. Valparaiso might be a nice fit. Crean has connections with Izzo..Izzo found a kid from Valpo. Maybe some sort of exchange in favors can be arranged to find a spot for Jordy in a Valpo Viking uniform. His uniform is no longer crimson anyway because it’s been so thoroughly drenched in yellow piss from the haters that have doubted the kid since day one. I’m certain Crean will do his best to find somewhere to hide him; maybe somewhere very obscure where getting constantly “abused” goes unnoticed. He needs a chance to play against competition more appropriate his game far too inferior the elite lguards that eat him alive on a daily basis in the Big 10. We should do it before Yogi comes and completely embarrasses Jordy in front of his teammates. Kid needs some honest love and a dose of honest truth. Maybe Crean can call in Seth to help ease him into acceptance just how lost he is playing on a stage that makes him look so damn silly and slow. Wish I could discuss further, but my dog is standing by the door…she must need go out and take a big Laffy.

  14. By the way, since it’s been pile-on-Jordy’s-defense all month I’d like to make another statement in his defense (pun intended)…

    Jordy is one of the best transition defenders in all of college basketball.

    It was on display beautifully again last night.

  15. Wow. Dog really had to go.

    Take off the love blinders, Geoff. You only like the kid because I made a nice goat picture of him on a mountain.

    We don’t want another VJ on the roster next year…We want another senior on the roster that Crean feels obligated to play but yet drags down the overall product on the floor? Seth Davis found an honest voice. We all need to listen up becuase these people know their business. I should have listened to you early in the season. You tried so hard to break it to me nicely. I’m living out my youthful b-ball fantasies through Jordy…I always wanted to be a point guard. You were right all along. The kid is damn good at a game of ‘horse’ or ‘around the world.’ That doesn’t cut it for a Division 1 basketball team that is returning to elite status.

    He’ll do fine in a limited role as a Valpo Crusader.

  16. Out pops an idiotic comment from time to time!!! Hint, hint, hint……..

    I’m willing to make a small wager on the fact the Hulls will be in the starting line up next year???

  17. That’s right! We sent Capobianco to Valpo!…We could start a transfer pipeline to Northwest Indiana to send our garbage. Heaven forbid we ever try to recruit thugs from the Chicago area..or the mean Gary streets of E’twaun Moore and Branden Dawson… or some tucked away NW Indiana dusty little towns some expert SI writer found losers like Novak, Hummel, and Mitch McGary.

  18. Larry-

    You need to read more threads where Laffy told it like it is. Did you know he’s the Howard Cosell of Hoosier Scoop? Hulls gets abused more than a Michael Vick dog. He’s best sent to a mid-major where slow guys can flourish. Hoosiers are going to the big-time next year with our top recruiting class. There’s no more room for inferior guys..We should do what’s best for the kid and not expose him as a gentle helpless defenseless Labrador caged in with a vicious Pit Bull. The “Forever Tijan” days are over.

  19. Harvard—–You’re an idiot. Hulls is a clutch shooter, he will be needed next season. True, his defense can be questionable but he has his moments, enough so that he will be a very important part of the team.

  20. Month ago I thought Laffy should increase his meds. Last couple of weeks it seems as if he is the one taking the “high road”. “taking a Laffy”? How sad to sink so low to say samething like that.

    Next yr, CTC will have his hands full balancing the new guys with the existing guys, but Hulls will be starting. Could almost see two stating fives based on the games objectives.

  21. Proud Hoosier fan – that is exTremely thick sarcasm coming from Harvard. He is a Hulls worshipper…

  22. “His defense is questionable?” According to Laffy(and supported by an SI article and a world-renowned sports journalist that graduated from the best basketball school in the country) Hulls is “abused” constantly and “maybe the worst defender in Division 1 basketball.” I’m simply coming to my senses. Dustin posted the article on Scoop so we could all come to are Laffy senses. Hulls has no business playing for a Big 10 team returning to an elite status. We have one of the best point guards in the country arriving next year to run the team. It’s time Jordy digests the truth. These coaches that gave their valued opinions to a famous SI journalist are honest and decent people like Laffy that are only putting truth into the kid’s ears. They want the best for Indiana. Jordy simply does not have the skills to defend even bench-warmers in this league.

    Don’t challenge Harvard. Challenge Laffy and the expert coaches from the Big 10 that served as Seth Davis’ sources. These people are professionals. They all concluded months ago we would have a breakout season despite having the worst defender in the nation in our backcourt. Back in November Seth Davis said the Hoosiers could be a Final Four team if we had a point guard faster than a snail to guard the worst opposing player in every game. I think Dustin provided the link and an entire thread was dedicated to the article right before the start of the b-ball season. I think the title was “Hoosiers are a Final Four Team without Molasses Hulls.”

    I was in denial. I’m just finally understanding how much the kid has cost our basketball team the last 3 years. Pritchard and Jones were potential All-Americans their sophomore and junior years if they didn’t have to expend 90% of their energy chasing down the guards blowing by Bloomington’s hometown homely hero. How much more can we ask of our new top recruits that will exhaust themselves, kill the energy they could otherwise bring to their offensive and defensive games, simply because they’re busting their hearts out of their chests helping the worst defender in D-1 basketball get his minutes of charity?

    It’s time we all agree with Laffy and the cheap whore Seth Davis found to slobber hate into his trusted tape recorder and slander the name of a young Indiana man that epitomizes the minuscule amount of honor and decency left in the world of college basketball.

  23. I’ll take Hull’s worshiper any day of the week over Duke grad worshiper.

  24. I have been very hard on some of the seniors on this year’s team..but this senior class had to go thru what no other senior class ever had to..rebuilding.From where Indiana was 3 year’s ago 6 win’s to 3 year’s later 24..at least win’s…is really great.Not saying that I won’t be glad to see VJIII go because I will…but he helped as best he could.Hull’s will not transfer..he will not start or play nearly as much next year…I see him in Roth’s roll.Remy Abel will surely transfer as well as AE.Coach Crean has not given Abel a snow ball’s chance to play..and maybe he has reason’s I don’t know.But with the player’s we have coming next year Elston..Hull’s..AE..will just be pretty much clean up player’s.I firmly believe if Creek can come back ay 75% of what he was…Indiana should win 26-28 game’s next year and be Top 10 team most of the year.

  25. See, I told ya. There’s a trusted old blogger from those not very long ago doubting Jordy days that wholeheartedly believes Hulls will spend most of his time next year on a chair picking grime out from under his fingernails.

    Chet called Jordy the “heart of team.” Unless he transfers, I guess next year he’ll have to settle into the role of smelling a passing “stale fart from Tom Crean.”

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