Hoosiers reverse road fortunes in West Lafayette

  • 02/05/2012 10:51 am in

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — As a 13-point lead melted to four with 3:27 remaining, this group of Hoosiers found themselves at a crossroads.

Recent history playing away from Assembly Hall in the Big Ten suggested that Purdue had Indiana right where it wanted them. The Hoosiers had not beaten any conference team besides Penn State on the road since the 2007-2008 season.

But as the Paint Crew reached a fever pitch and momentum shifted to the Boilermakers, Indiana took a road they’ve rarely traveled in recent seasons away from Bloomington. The Hoosiers did what they couldn’t do in Lincoln, Madison or Ann Arbor: finish well down the stretch.

First it was a block by Will Sheehey on a shot by Lewis Jackson that would’ve cut the lead to two. And then it was Remy Abell’s 3-pointer from the corner at the 1:27 mark to put the game out of reach.

Both plays were made possible because Indiana put together its most complete effort from start to finish all season on the road. The Hoosiers were basically in control throughout the contest.

“To me, it looked like it meant more to them,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “Just right from the start, looking, you can see guys’ facial expressions, you can see guys body language, I thought they were more engaged.”

It hasn’t been that way as of late for Indiana on the road in the Big Ten.

The Hoosiers were never able to fully recover in slow starts at Ohio State and Michigan. At Nebraska and Wisconsin, Indiana couldn’t come up with the key plays Sheehey and Abell made in Mackey Arena on Saturday night.

“It’s big for us,” Indiana guard Victor Oladipo said. “It should boost our confidence a little bit. We should do stuff like that. We’re a really good team.”

With Verdell Jones out of the lineup with a bruised shoulder, Victor Oladipo and Abell both took on increased roles. Oladipo moved from the wing to primary ball handler and Abell, who has been used sparingly, played more like an upperclassmen than a freshman with limited experience.

Purdue couldn’t keep Oladipo out of the lane or off the foul line. The sophomore guard finished with a career-high 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists. As the game moved along, his confidence grew.

“I thought he did a good job of picking his spots and getting by us,” Painter said. “Obviously getting to the free throw line twelve times really helped them.”

Abell, who played a career-high 19 minutes and finished with a career-high 13 points, showed that he’s ready to shoulder a bigger role moving forward. The freshman from Louisville showed no hesitation when he received a pass from Christian Watford in front of the IU bench and knocked down a shot to push Indiana’s lead to nine.

“That’s a big shot for Remy,” Oladipo said. “He’s just growing every day and he’s becoming a great player. He just needs to continue to do what he’s doing and working hard. I’m proud of him.”

Yet, more important than the individual performances or plays is the fact that Indiana is responding to adversity with positive results late in the season. Losses snowballed late in Big Ten play the past few seasons. This team appears destined for a much different finish.

“You take your hat off to them. They’ve been at the bottom,” Purdue guard Lewis Jackson said. “They’ve lost to us three years in a row. They’re tired of hearing it. You just see the maturity and the fight over there and that’s a team that came together.”

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  • marcusgresham

    Not recruiting well?  Don’t forget, Painter got Donnie Hale….oh, I see what you mean.

    Seriously, though, the flirtation with Missouri probably didn’t help his recruiting any.

  • The_Real_Assembly_Hall

    If Indiana was to fall to an 8 seed I could realistically see the NCAA sticking to the norm of creating storylines, and potentially line up Indiana and Kentucky for a 2nd round matchup. If Murray State ends up undefeated I could also see the NCAA putting them on course with Indiana to stir up the drama of the last team going undefeated and winning the title who is trying to protect that notation against a Murray State team who is trying to accomplish that same feat. A lot has to fall into place for that to happen though.

  • guest

    Couldn’t have said it better.  I’ve been saying all year that all the talk about ‘VJIII haters’ is really mis-placed and it really appears there are many ‘VJIII lovers’ who will over and over turn a blind eye to his shortcomings.  I’ve many times, as you did so well, drawn the parallel with Pritchard, why are the posters here not shouting from the rooftops that he shouldn’t have a diminished role since he came here, stayed here, etc.  It’s clearly because he has limitations that make him far more valuable as a role player than as a major contributor.  Honestly, Pritchards problem is fouling, right….. betcha VJII has a whole lot more turnovers in his career than Pritchard does fouls.  Definitely in the last season and a half.  Just sayin’

  • catronhoosier

    I mean someone who would be a starter, you are right though  because his athleticism rivals Oladipos, but he is a huge trouble maker and has absolutely no shot.  I honestly would not want him on my team if I was a coach but Im big on attitudes  

  • catronhoosier

    I mean someone who would be a starter, you are right though  because his athleticism rivals Oladipos, but he is a huge trouble maker and has absolutely no shot.  I honestly would not want him on my team if I was a coach but Im big on attitudes  

  • Hf2436

    You’re a little smart for your own good. ONE event does not create a correlation.

    Indiana HAS NOT beaten a ranked team WITHOUT VJ3. THAT is a CORRELATION!

  • Hf2436

    Without doing the math, you would be wrong! I’m quite comfortable in proclaiming that. Fouls only? Might want to look into scoring, rebounding and free throw shooting.
    TP got Jobbed by the refs for 2 years, couldn’t hit free throws and overall, he’s never recovered.

  • jaywiz

    Agreed on the d taking his energy. As bummed as I am about nothaving a weekend game this week, It is going to be great for the team. They deserve a solid week off….that is if they throttle the Ilwhini.

  • jaywiz

    Selll. You can have a few possesions when you give vic the ball up top and throw jordy out on the wing, but not straight up 1.

  • Kokomo_Joe

    Interesting, Purdue doesn’t like IU celebrtating at center court but their red headed PG from the 90’s Foster was stomping the I in the Indiana emblem at center court at Assembly Hall after a Purdue win.

    I think Purdue now realizes the sh&% is about to hit the fan.  IU will sweep them at home, IU is a better team moving forward, has better recruits in 2012, though I feel purdue has the edge in 2013, but IU will have it again in 2014.

    The Boiler Up freaks know that IU is going to be a Top 10 program again for years and the forecast isn’t so sunny in West Lafayette.

    They had the Baby Boilers and still couldn’t get to the Final 4.

    Within 10 years IU will regain the Big Ten title race over Purdue (we are -2 right now) and have solid chances to hang banner #6.  Meanwhile the Boilers will continue to complain and BOO every opponent and every call.

    They may be the most disrespectful fans in the country.

    There is little admiration for great competition if the Boilers don’t win.

  • MoHoosier81

    Ahhhh, the days of purdue being little brother in the state are back….loving it.  Great play by Oladipo and Abell in place of the injured VJ3 (get well soon).  Go Hoosiers, beat Illinois.

  • MoHoosier81

    Glad someone said it.  Anyone think that VJ3 has trouble because of all the things fans say behind his back.  He stuck with Crean and the Hoosiers, I’m sticking with him.

  • MoHoosier81

    Glad someone said it.  Anyone think that VJ3 has trouble because of all the things fans say behind his back.  He stuck with Crean and the Hoosiers, I’m sticking with him.

  • marcusgresham

    I expect Murray State to lose to St. Mary’s, but if that’s the case I’d be thrilled because they don’t have anyone down low who can stop Zeller.