Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Purdue

  • 01/17/2024 10:40 am in

Indiana suffered a 21-point loss to Purdue on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall, falling 87-66. The loss dropped the Hoosiers to 12-6 overall and 4-3 in Big Ten play.

Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Boilermakers:

Kel’el Ware and Mackenzie Mgbako were benched too long in the first half

Mike Woodson’s decision to auto-bench Kel’el Ware and Mackenzie Mgbako with two fouls in the first half was a decision that backfired.

Mgbako, who scored Indiana’s first seven points, went to the bench with the Hoosiers trailing 10-7 at the 15:30 mark.

Ware was sent to the bench with two fouls at the 13:40 mark and Indiana behind 11-9.

When Mgbako reentered the game at the 3:33 mark, Indiana trailed 39-25. Ware came back at the 2:14 mark with the Hoosiers trailing 43-25.

Benching a player with two fouls to save them for the second half can sometimes work. It didn’t work on Tuesday because Indiana fell too far behind before Woodson brought both players back.

“Again, it’s a long game, but we fell back so quickly, you know,” Woodson said postgame. “I figured I brought him back, I think, around the two or three-minute mark right around the half, and when I think back to it, I probably should have brought him back a lot sooner, but I didn’t.”

By the time Woodson brought Mgbako and Ware back, the game was already out of reach. Mgbako finished the game with two fouls and Ware had three.

Indiana bet big on Xavier Johnson and it isn’t paying off

Rather than securing portal guard help last spring, Indiana decided to roll with Xavier Johnson as its point guard for a third straight season.

Johnson’s injuries have been out of his control, but his on-court play and behavior have been disappointing.

The sixth-year guard, one of the oldest players in college basketball, picked up a flagrant foul for the second time in three games against Purdue.

Since returning at Nebraska on Jan. 3, Johnson has been effective in one of Indiana’s five games. He scored 18 points in a win against Ohio State on Jan. 6, but has combined for four points, six assists and 11 turnovers in IU’s other four games.

Tuesday’s performance against Purdue saw Johnson log 19 minutes and shoot 0-for-5 from the field. He had two rebounds, two turnovers, two steals, a blocked shot, no assists and three fouls.

The Hoosiers had no answer for Zach Edey

Zach Edey looks well on his way to winning national player of the year for a second straight season.

The 7-foot-4 center only strengthened his case by dominating Indiana on Tuesday night.

Edey went for a game-high 33 points on 11-for-23 shooting from the field and an 11-for-12 performance from the free throw line. He logged 36 minutes and grabbed 14 rebounds.

Indiana did a decent job of keeping Edey from grabbing offensive rebounds – he pulled down just two – but when he got position in the post, he made the Hoosiers pay.

“You know, again, Trayce (Jackson-Davis) and Race (Thompson), they are not here,” Woodson said. “I’ve got to get my two big guys a little more tougher. That’s got to help. I didn’t think we played tough enough, and Edey kind of had his way. We’ve got to work on that. It’s a work in progress.”

Trey Galloway fought for 36 minutes

Like he did earlier in the season in a home loss to Kansas, Trey Galloway brought it on Tuesday against Purdue.

Galloway logged a team-high 36 minutes and led the Hoosiers in points (17) and assists (five) in the blowout loss.

The Culver Academies product was a solid 6-for-13 from the field and knocked in a team-best three 3-pointers.

The problem, of course, is the rest of Indiana’s guard play was extremely lacking.

Johnson had another poor performance; Gabe Cupps was just 1-for-5 from the field with two turnovers, and CJ Gunn had seven points, but all of his production came after the game had already been decided.

With the season now past the halfway point in terms of games played, it’s become clear that Indiana’s guard play isn’t good enough to beat the best competition on the schedule.

Purdue dominates Indiana at the free-throw line

The free throw line was the determining statistic in Purdue’s runaway win at Assembly Hall.

The Hoosiers made more 3-pointers than Purdue and took care of the ball for the most part, with only 10 turnovers.

But Indiana’s inability to defend without fouling was the difference in the outcome.

The Boilermakers got to the line 18 more times than the Hoosiers and outscored them by 18 points. What is typically a strength for Indiana was turned into a major deficiency by Purdue.

“Well, we got smacked the first half, and you’ve got to give them credit,” Woodson said. “I thought they were more tougher. Yeah, there were a lot of fouls called against us, but they set the tone.”

Woodson’s assessment is correct, but it’s fair to ask why Indiana isn’t tougher or capable of setting the tone more regularly 18 games into the season, too.

Filed to: