Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Purdue

IUPUITH0006Indiana won its third game in seven days on Saturday with an 83-55 romp over rival Purdue at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers scored 1.23 points per possession and limited the Boilermakers to .82 points per trip in the lopsided win.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from IU’s fourth straight win over Purdue:

· Will Sheehey shines: After Victor Oladipo went down with a sprained left ankle late in the first half, IU’s sixth man was thrust into a more prominent role and turned in the best offensive effort of his career. Sheehey finished with a career-high 22 points and set a school record by shooting 9-of-9 from the floor. The junior from Stuart, Florida scored 16 of his points in the second half and the damage came from all over the court. Sheehey hit two 3-pointers and scored at the basket, including back-t0-back layups that pushed the lead to 20 at 53-33 with 13:52 to go. Afterward, Sheehey said his increased aggressiveness wasn’t the result of Oladipo’s absence. “I just try to stay aggressive regardless of what the situation is,” he said. “That’s just the way I am as a player.”

· IU made the right call holding Oladipo out for the second half: With a comfortable halftime cushion, Tom Crean decided to hold Oladipo out for the remainder of the game after twisting his ankle with just under a minute to go in the first half. Given the upcoming schedule and Oladipo’s importance in IU’s quest for a deep run in March and April, it was only logical to proceed with caution. Crean said that Oladipo wanted to re-enter the game and the junior even rode a stationary bike near the IU bench to stay warm, but Tuesday’s showdown with Michigan State looming, Oladipo was reduced to the role of cheerleader for the second half. “I just don’t think any of us were comfortable enough to say, ‘let’s go do it.’ He wanted to go back in, but we just weren’t going to do that at that point,” Crean said. “I don’t think that anybody felt, medically, that it was the best thing to do at that point.”

· A.J. Hammons was a non-factor: After scoring 30 points in the first meeting on Jan. 30 in West Lafayette, Purdue freshman A.J. Hammons didn’t score in the first half and finished with just six points on 3-of-10 shooting. Rather than going with Cody Zeller, Crean deployed Christian Watford to slow down Hammons for a different look defensively. The change in strategy paid off as Watford was aggressive and never allowed Hammons to consistently establish position in the post. The defensive performance from Watford was just another example of how he’s evolved from a player who struggled to defend his first two seasons to a veteran that can guard multiple positions. “He can guard anybody,” Crean said. “I’m glad that people are seeing that. He’s got a toughness to him.”

· A quiet 19 points and nine rebounds for Cody Zeller: With most of the postgame buzz focused on Sheehey and Oladipo’s injury, Cody Zeller’s performance flew a bit under the radar. He finished with 19 points (7-of-12 shooting), nine rebounds, two assists, two blocks and a steal. Zeller’s averages in Big Ten play currently sit at 16.8 points and 8.5 rebounds and he’s vaulted into the No. 1 spot in Ken Pomeroy’s player of the year standings which place a heavy emphasis on a player’s efficiency. “He played very, very efficiently today,” Crean said. ” Scoring the ball, rebounding the ball, defending, helping, blocking shots. All the different things.” Oladipo and Michigan’s Trey Burke are dominating much of the conversation for Big Ten player of the year, but Zeller belongs in that conversation, too.

· With a marquee game looming, IU maintained its focus: Before the first IU-Purdue game, some wondered if the Hoosiers would be looking ahead to an ESPN College GameDay showdown with Michigan. IU won that game in Mackey Arena by 37 points. Similar questions popped up leading into this game with Michigan State looming on Tuesday. Indiana again erased any doubt about its focus by completely dismantling Purdue. The Boilermakers had no answer early for Christian Watford and as the game moved along, both Sheehey and Zeller imposed their will for a combined 41 points. “I thought our team was asked enough let down questions,” Crean said. “The human dynamic can sometimes play into it, but not today, not at all. Now with the way they are maturing, not with the way we feel about the rivalry with Purdue.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.spera.3 Gregory Spera

    “not with the way we feel about the rivalry with Purdue”

    One thing I will always remember fondly about this team, no matter what happens the rest of the year, is that they truly understood how very important it is to not just beat PU, but to mercilessly humiliate them if at all possible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregory.spera.3 Gregory Spera

    “not with the way we feel about the rivalry with Purdue”

    One thing I will always remember fondly about this team, no matter what happens the rest of the year, is that they truly understood how very important it is to not just beat PU, but to mercilessly humiliate them if at all possible.

  • Andrew

    Not picking on Alex, but Hammons was not a “non-factor.” This term is used all the time, and it’s always wrong, b/c every player who’s out there is a factor, either positive or negative. Because he scored only 6 points on 3-10 shooting is the very reason he was very much a factor…a negative one for PU, a positive one for IU. The 7 shots he missed and the fouls he committed were a factor in IU winning. You don’t have to score 30 points to be a factor in the game.

  • Andrew

    Not picking on Alex, but Hammons was not a “non-factor.” This term is used all the time, and it’s always wrong, b/c every player who’s out there is a factor, either positive or negative. Because he scored only 6 points on 3-10 shooting is the very reason he was very much a factor…a negative one for PU, a positive one for IU. The 7 shots he missed and the fouls he committed were a factor in IU winning. You don’t have to score 30 points to be a factor in the game.

  • Fergy

    Christian played a defensive gem of a game

  • iuoiu

    From what I hear, the Redskins were prepared to offer Crean an assistant spot if he let VO play in the 2nd half yesterday….

  • louk703

    Cody will be the big 10 & national POY!!!

  • IUJeff

    Heard that. PUke used to have IU “mints” in the toilets at Smakey. Probably still do.

    Total underlings. Had a PU buddy crying to me how IU ran up the score in the Jan 30th game. Made me happy to tell him to pull up his big boy pants.

  • IUJeff

    Was out of town so just watched the game. Some thoughts.

    + Good to see Sheehey tone it down a bit with the celebrations.

    + Z in transition is scary. Wishful here but he needs another year of development IMO.

    + Bench got some good blow in this tune up for MSU.

    + Sheehey’s agressiveness.

    + CWats jumper and interior D. The latter surprised me a bit.

    + EG and Tolbert in the stands.

    + Dakich’s color. I like what he brings.

    - Still too many TOs but we know how IU plays somewhat to the level of the comp.

    - Vics ankle. Takes a while to heal a twist wholly. Not gonna be 100% for MSU.

    - Vic graduating early- totall selfish I know. Great for him though. Pretty much guarantees he won’t be back does it not?

  • Tim Newton

    This team still has go to Michigan State and Michigan.Not surprised that red,white got Purdue down

  • http://www.trinityoaklabs.com Hoosiergirl

    Should be, but probably won’t be without a National Championship

  • http://www.facebook.com/blair.mckee Blair McKee

    Love to see a good, old-fashioned beat down of those Boilers. LOVE IT! They have to be taking serious soul-searching stock of their pitiful performances these past two games. It’s not that they don’t have talent, but that they so readily rolled over and played dead for IU. Have they no guts? No heart?

  • iuoiu

    Well we have an issue – both the Gazeller and VO will be getting votes, which actually hurts the chances of each since they are on the same team. Really what those awards usually show is who is the biggest stat-stuffer on a good team and our team does not need either of these guys to go off for 20+ a night to win (and win big too).

  • http://www.facebook.com/blair.mckee Blair McKee

    I disagree on a couple of points. At their speed, the TOs are not a problem: They scored 1.25 points per posession. That’s good. Zeller is ready for the next level. In open space, where the NBA is played, he is too quick for the opposing bigs, especially on the break. Watford is ready for the next level too. He can create and defend and his size and outside shot are NBA-ready. Oladipo, too. All that means is that this team is going to have to do it this year. This is the year they’ve put it all together. Anything less than a Final Four appearance is a major disappointment, and, frankly, this is the year they need to hang #6. No pressure…

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