Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Purdue

Indiana suffered its 10th loss of the season on Thursday night as the Hoosiers fell 69-64 to Purdue at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers are now 5-7 in Big Ten play with six games remaining.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to Boilermakers:

· Another close game, another failure to close out an opponent: It’s been a theme this season for the Hoosiers. In games that go down to the final minutes, Indiana is having major trouble closing.

Thursday’s loss brought IU’s tally in games decided by five points or less to 2-6. The two wins: the season opener against Kansas and the buzzer beater over Penn State in State College.

Why was this loss more alarming than others?

This is the type of game that Indiana typically wins at home under Tom Crean. A ranked opponent with three days prep in front of raucous crowd is usually a good situation for Indiana to pull out a win. But it didn’t happen even with Purdue playing far from its best game.

Indiana once again played well enough defensively (as it did in Madison), but 16 turnovers against a team that doesn’t turn anybody over was the back breaker.

· More on the turnovers: For the ninth time in 12 Big Ten games, Indiana turned the ball over on more than 20 percent of its possessions.

Purdue turned 14 Indiana turnovers into 16 points. The Boilermakers turned it over 12 times and IU had 13 points off of those miscues. While only a three-point differential in this game, turnovers may end up as season defining for the Hoosiers.

In seven Big Ten losses to date, IU’s opponents have scored 59 more points off of turnovers. Overall in 12 Big Ten games, IU has been outscored by 48 in points off of turnovers. That includes the Rutgers games in which the Hoosiers outscored the Scarlet Knights by 22 off of turnovers.

· Guard play not good enough to win: The return of James Blackmon Jr. to the Indiana lineup was much needed, but the Hoosiers didn’t get an offensive lift from its backcourt.

Blackmon Jr. came out aggressively, but was just 3-of-14. Josh Newkirk, who was red hot coming in, was just 3-of-9. And Robert Johnson was just 2-of-11, including a 1-of-6 performance on 3-pointers.

“8-of-34 with our three starting guards,” Tom Crean said postgame. “That’s not good. That’s not good.”

· Bryant the lone bright spot offensively: As John Gasaway pointed out on Twitter this morning, Indiana’s offense is trending in the wrong direction.

Indiana is now down to third in the Big Ten in offensive efficiency at 1.09 points per possession. The Hoosiers managed just .94 points per trip against the Boilermakers.

The lone bright spot was the play of Thomas Bryant, who stepped out and hit three 3-pointers and finished five of his eight 2s before fouling out in 26 minutes. Bryant finished with 23 points, the third time he’s scored 23 or more in the last four games.

“Just staying aggressive, just taking what the defense gives me,” Bryant said of the performance. “If they collapsed on me my teammates know that I’ll find them.”

· Indiana’s margin for error is gone: Indiana is likely to be on the outside looking in when the next round of NCAA tournament projections come out. The Hoosiers, once ranked No. 3 in the Associated Press poll, are unlikely to make the tournament without multiple road wins down the stretch.

There’s been hesitation to use the words “must win game,” but Sunday’s game against Michigan is just that. With three Big Ten home losses and four road games to play, is there a path for the Hoosiers to sneak into the tournament? It’s a narrow one.

Crean was asked about his team’s NCAA tournament chances in the postgame, but wasn’t ready to discuss anything beyond Sunday’s game against the Wolverines.

“We’ve got to get ready to play Michigan, okay. I really — I’m not smart enough to think past that in all honesty,” he said. “We’ve got to get ourselves ready to play that game, and we’ve got to keep making the improvements that we have to make, and that’s our next game, and they shoot it phenomenally well, and we’ll put our game plan together, and that’s what our focus has got to be.”



Notebook: IU lets another opportunity slip away

Once again, Indiana let a prime opportunity slip through its grasp.

For the majority of Thursday night, Indiana (15-10) outplayed Purdue (20-5, 9-3). The Hoosiers led by four at halftime and seemed to have momentum. Indiana was taking care of the ball, making hustle plays and were winning the battle on the boards.

After Thomas Bryant nailed a three with 18:09 remaining in the second half, the Hoosiers found themselves up 39-32.

That’s when it all began to unravel. Over the next 4:46, the Hoosiers couldn’t find any rhythm, shooting 1-for-8 from the floor, turning the ball over three times. They were outscored 12-3 in that stretch.

Perhaps most costly for Indiana, at the 12:38 mark, De’Ron Davis took a massive hit to the face.

Play continued as Davis laid on the court in agony. 15 seconds after Davis was hit, Vincent Edwards nailed a three, giving Purdue a 44-42 lead. Finally, the officials signaled for a stoppage in play.

“Really, in all honesty, for that to not be anything — I mean, call the foul on De’Ron, right?” Crean told reporters after the game. “When you end up on the floor, something happened.”

Davis stayed on the floor for several minutes before being helped to the locker room by members of the IU staff.

Davis did not return to the game, and Crean said he will continue to be evaluated.

Even without Davis, Indiana still had plenty of chances to earn a marquee win. Thomas Bryant continued to hit shots inside, and Juwan Morgan looked as close to 100 percent as he has since suffering a left foot injury against Rutgers on Jan. 15.

Heading into the under-4 media timeout, the Hoosiers were even with Purdue at 57-57. All Indiana had to do was outscore the Boilermakers, and they would have their first win over a ranked team since November.

But egregious mistakes and foul trouble would cost Indiana any chance at a victory.

Trailing by two with 2:34 to play, Indiana forced Purdue’s Dakota Mathias into a difficult three, one that he would miss.

The Hoosiers couldn’t come up with the board. James Blackmon Jr., in his first game since the 30-point drubbing to Michigan, failed to box out P.J. Thompson. Thompson turned the rebound into an uncontested layup, giving the Boilers a four-point lead.

“I think that was my first offensive rebound of the year,” Thompson told reporters after the game (it was actually his 19th offensive board of the season). “Because Biggie, he grabs them all. It just felt like I was in the right place at the right time. I saw an opportunity to get the ball, and I was able to get it over (Blackmon) and hit the layup.”

From there, it only got worse. Less than 90 seconds later, with Indiana trailing by four, Morgan picked up his fifth foul.

On the ensuing offensive possession, with Indiana now down five, Thomas Bryant posted up Caleb Swanigan. Both were playing with four fouls, so when Bryant barreled over Swanigan and hit the bucket, all eyes were on the officials.

Official Lamont Simpson called a block, while Paul Szelc signaled a charge. The crew discussed the play at length before coming to the decision of a double-foul.

Simpson defended the decision after the game to a pool reporter.

Whether it was a block or a charge is up for debate. The officials’ decision to rule the play a double-foul was, as Dick Vitale put it, a “cop-out.”

“Everyone saw it,” Caleb Swanigan said. “It just wasn’t a good call for either player. It takes us off the court and hurts the product of college basketball when you call calls like that.”

Indiana had possession following the officals’ ruling and was able to trim the deficit to three on a pair of Robert Johnson free throws with 38 seconds to play.

The points were too little, too late. Indiana, forced to play the foul game, was unable to claw back into the game.

Blackmon ineffective in his return

Blackmon struggled to find his shot in his return to action. The junior connected on only three of the 14 shots he attempted, including a 1-for-7 effort from behind the arc.

Although Blackmon claimed he was at “100 percent, if not close,” Purdue coach Matt Painter disagreed.

“Sometimes when you see him dribble into the three and shoot, you would think it’s a hurried shot,” Painter said. “But he makes those, and that’s his rhythm shot once he gets his legs under him and gets 100 percent healthy.”



Video: Tom Crean reacts to loss to Purdue

Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 69-64 loss to Purdue on Thursday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch his postgame comments below:



The Minute After: Purdue

Thoughts on a 69-64 loss to Purdue:

The Hoosiers came to play. They competed. They hustled.

But despite the strong effort, the high energy, the collective will to win, it simply wasn’t enough. The reality twelve games into conference play? The Hoosiers aren’t part of the Big Ten’s elite.

So it goes down as Indiana’s third home loss in conference this season, dropping the Hoosiers to 5-7 in the Big Ten. What started off as a spirited march towards the Big Dance this year has grown into a weary crawl, the Hoosiers now on the verge of not making it.

Tom Crean said on the pre-game radio show it was about James Blackmon Jr. “getting integrated back into the team” and “not trying to get it all back at once.” But the junior, playing in perhaps his last home game against Purdue, wasted no time and wanted to make his presence felt immediately.

Blackmon Jr. attacked the basket early with ultra aggression. He had 10 field goal attempts at half, though he made just two of them.

There were other early signs Indiana had that extra juice in them tonight. Zach McRoberts had a putback on an offensive rebound. Freddie McSwain did, too. McRoberts drew a charge on Caleb Swanigan. Josh Newkirk saved an Indiana turnover in the backcourt in a possession that led to a Thomas Bryant 3-pointer. Plays like these ensured the self-inflicted turnovers didn’t kill the Hoosiers.

Indiana also wasn’t lost on defense. Isaac Haas took too many shots out of the paint. He finished just 1-of-6 in the first 20 minutes of action. The Hoosiers also didn’t let Purdue get too hot from distance, as they made just 3-of-11. So while Indiana failed to score a point per possession (.96), Purdue did too (.85). It all helped Indiana carry a 36-32 lead into half.

After the break, Indiana continued to play well enough to win. Thomas Bryant really asserted himself at the midway point of the second half on offense. He scored from beyond the arc and down low on his way to a team-high 23 points. Bryant’s play over the last couple games has been inspiring, a reminder of why he’s been regarded as an NBA talent since he stepped on campus.

In between back-to-back Bryant scores around the 10 minute mark, Indiana doubled down on Haas. On his kickout the Hoosiers closed out on the 3-point line twice to ward off a shot attempt. The possession ended in a P.J. Thompson turnover as the shot clock wound down. It was a solid sequence and gave hope Indiana was going to keep the lead and pull this one out.

But they just couldn’t make enough winning play down the stretch after Purdue tied it up at 57 with 3:49 to go. Indiana continued to feed Bryant to mixed results, and it culminated in that odd double-foul call, Bryant’s fifth of the game, fouling him out with 44 seconds left and Indiana down five. During that stretch, Blackmon Jr.’s only shot attempt was stolen away by Vincent Edwards.

On a night Indiana was about even with its opponent on points off turnovers (13 for IU, 16 for Purdue) and its defense held one of the better offenses in the country to a respectable 1.02 points per possession, the Hoosiers just didn’t muster enough quality possessions down the stretch to emerge victorious.

Indiana’s now dug itself a huge hole with just six games remaining in conference. Getting back to .500 in Big Ten play is going to be a big challenge, and who would have thought it just few months back?



Photo Gallery: Indiana vs. Purdue

Check out 53 photos by Jamie Owens from Indiana’s 69-64 loss to Purdue at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Purchase prints from J. Scott Photography.

Video: IU players react to loss to Purdue

James Blackmon Jr. and Thomas Bryant met with the media following Indiana’s 69-64 loss to Purdue on Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch their postgame comments below:



Video: Matt Painter, Purdue players react to win over Indiana

Matt Painter, Vincent Edwards, Caleb Swanigan and P.J. Thompson met with the media following Purdue’s 69-64 win over Indiana on Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch the full press conference below:



At the Buzzer: Purdue 69, Indiana 64

Quick thoughts on a 69-64 loss to Purdue:

How it happened: This was a battle from the opening tip. Indiana avoided a slow start and came out as the aggressor in the first half and had Purdue back on its heels a bit. Besides Vincent Edwards, who had 15 first half points, and Caleb Swanigan, who had six points and 10 rebounds, Indiana held the rest of the Boilermakers in check through the first 20 minutes. The Hoosiers came out strong in the second half, too, as they built a seven-point lead less than two minutes in. But Indiana could never put more distance on Purdue and the Boilermakers took control in the final four minutes. The key possession was a Caleb Swanigan 3-point play with 1:02 to go that gave Purdue a five-point lead. From there, Indiana never got closer than three as the Hoosiers suffered their third home loss in league play.

Standout performer: Thomas Bryant had 23 points on 8-of-12 shooting before fouling out in the final minute on a double foul call. Swanigan, who finished with 16 points and 14 rebounds, also fouled out on the play. On a night where Indiana’s guards struggled to get things going offensively, Bryant carried a heavy load.

Statistic that stands out: Purdue turned 14 Indiana turnovers in 16 points. Indiana once again finished with a turnover percentage over 20 at 20.7. This time, it was against the Big Ten team that forces the least amount of turnovers.

Final IU individual stats:

Final tempo-free stats:

Video: Tom Crean, IU players preview Purdue

Tom Crean, Thomas Bryant and Zach McRoberts met with the media on Wednesday evening to preview Thursday’s matchup against Purdue at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch both press conferences below:

What to Expect: Purdue

Following Sunday’s 65-60 loss at Wisconsin, Indiana returns to Bloomington on Thursday night for a matchup with rival Purdue. The Boilermakers are 19-5 overall, 8-3 in the Big Ten and No. 16 in the latest Associated Press top 25 poll.

The game will be broadcast on ESPN2 at 7 p.m. ET with Dave O’Brien and Dick Vitale on the call:

The stakes for Indiana going into Thursday’s game against Purdue couldn’t be higher. The Hoosiers are clinging to their NCAA tournament hopes and another home loss would be devastating. Rivalry aside, Indiana just needs a win.

This fact is not lost on Purdue, which knows that a win in Bloomington not only helps keep pace in the Big Ten race, but also puts the Hoosiers in serious jeopardy of missing out on Selection Sunday.

There’s always great theater when two of the Big Ten’s most storied programs meet, but Thursday’s game could be season defining for the Hoosiers.

MEET THE BOILERMAKERS

This could be the year that Purdue finally breaks its NCAA tournament losing streak. Since falling to Kansas in the second round of the 2012 NCAA tournament, Matt Painter’s program is 0-2 in March Madness. The other two seasons in that span, Purdue played in the 2013 CBI and then missed postseason play completely in 2014.

What’s different about this Purdue team? It might be Painter’s best offense yet in West Lafayette.

The frontcourt is anchored by sophomore forward Caleb Swanigan, a legitimate national player of the year candidate and the frontrunner for Big Ten player of the year. Swanigan currently ranks second in Ken Pomeroy’s national player of the year rankings.

Swanigan was the Big Ten’s best defensive rebounder last season, but has taken his work on the glass to another level in his second season. His defensive rebounding percentage in league play is 33.5 percent. He’s got 20 double-doubles in 24 games. Swanigan has also added a 3-point shot to his arsenal and is making 50 percent from deep this season.

Junior forward Vincent Edwards starts alongside Swanigan at the four and is quietly having a solid season. Edwards is third on the team in scoring at 11.3 points per game and has the 12th best offensive rating in the Big Ten in league play, according to Ken Pomeroy’s stats. Edwards is a very good free throw shooter (83 percent) and is hitting close to 45 percent of  his 3s this season.

Junior center Isaac Haas comes off the bench and is Purdue’s second leading scorer at 13.1 points in 20.8 minutes per game. At 7-foot-2 and 290 pounds, Haas is a massive presence. He’s difficult to stop when he catches it close to the basket. He’s making close to 60 percent of his 2s this season.

The rest of Purdue’s eight-man rotation consists of starters Carsen Edwards, P.J. Thompson and Dakota Mathias and backups Spike Albrecht and Ryan Cline. Each of them besides Albrecht can consistently knock down 3-pointers, which makes this Purdue team difficult to cover.

Mathias shoots 49.5 percent on 3s, Thompson is 42.7 percent, Cline is 44.7 percent and Edwards is 33.7 percent. If help is given to the post, Purdue typically does a solid job of finding open shooters and making teams pay.

Thompson is a very low usage offensive player, but does a good job finishing the opportunities he does get. He also averages less than a turnover per game. Edwards is using 24.5 percent of possessions while on the floor in Big Ten play and has a sub-100 offensive rating. If Indiana is going to help off of someone, he’s probably the best option.

Mathias is second on the team at 30.8 minutes per game and is fifth in scoring at 10.3 points per game.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

Purdue is a very good defensive team because it guards the 3-point line well and doesn’t allow teams to offensive rebounding. The Boilermakers are allowing Big Ten opponents to make just 32.6 percent of their 3s and are the league’s best defensive rebounding team.

Those numbers are problematic for Indiana because when the Hoosiers play well offensively, it typically has a lot to do with offensive rebounding and hot shooting.

So what does Indiana need to do to win? Play much better defensively than it has and take care of the ball. Purdue is last in conference play in defensive turnover percentage. If Indiana turns it over, those mistakes are likely to be self inflicted. Purdue also doesn’t block a lot of shots, so finishing at the rim is another key.

At 1.12 points per possession, Purdue is the Big Ten’s second best offense behind Michigan. Regardless of the status of James Blackmon Jr., it seems unlikely that Indiana is going to win by getting into a shootout with Purdue. The Hoosiers have to get stops. With the Big Ten’s worst defense, Indiana locking down a top offensive team is something we haven’t seen since the North Carolina game in late November.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The Pomeroy prediction is Purdue by 3 with a 40 percent chance of a win for Indiana. Sagarin likes Purdue by 2.

Swanigan has been a consistent double-double machine all season, so Indiana is going to need to prevent those around him from big games if the Hoosiers hope to emerge victorious.

Taking care of the ball is equally important as both Iowa and Nebraska, teams who beat Purdue at home in Big Ten play, both committed 10 or fewer turnovers. Both of those teams also did work on the offensive glass as the Huskers rebounded nearly 39 percent of their misses against Purdue and the Hawkeeys grabbed 30 percent.

With their NCAA tournament resume in desperate need of a win, Thursday’s game is the beginning of an important week for Indiana. A pair of wins would put the Hoosiers solidly in the field heading into a stretch of four of five on the road to finish league play. A pair of losses could officially send the season into a tailspin.

(Photo credit: Andy Lyons/Getty Images North America)