The Minute After: Purdue

  • 02/10/2024 11:21 pm in

Thoughts on a 79-59 loss to the Boilermakers:

From the start, it looked like Indiana might make a game of this one.

The offense came out crisp. The defense was good enough. Purdue wasn’t dominating. Indiana led for much of the first six minutes of the contest.

But as we’ve seen so often this season, good starts fade away and Indiana can’t keep it going. Tonight, it happened for one main reason: Indiana’s offense fell off a cliff. After a Kel’el Ware alley-oop at the 8:23 mark to pull Indiana within two points at 20-18, the Hoosiers missed their next seven shots, leading to a field-goal drought of 6:59 of game time. A two-point deficit became 16 and that was pretty much the game.

Some of the smaller strategic things also contributed. Perhaps looking to save Ware’s fouls against Zach Edey, Mike Woodson subbed him out in favor of Payton Sparks with 13:44 left in the first half. Ware re-entered at the 9:26 mark. But he picked up his second foul at the 6:13 mark and never returned, Woodson again choosing to auto-bench a player with two first-half fouls. Even when Indiana needed a lob threat with .3 seconds to go and the ball under its own basket, Woodson kept Ware on the bench. As a result, Sparks played 11 minutes in the first half. Combine that with Woodson rolling out lineups that featured other bench players with Sparks and Indiana just didn’t have the firepower to compete with Purdue.

Out of halftime, Indiana missed its first seven shots before a Ware 3-pointer at the 15:32 mark broke the scoring drought. That make was Indiana’s first 3-pointer of the game, as it missed its first seven. All the missed shots seemed to sap Indiana’s energy and determination. The Hoosiers looked flat and dejected.

The final numbers aren’t pretty: Indiana scored just .856 points per possession for the game. That’s the Hoosiers’ second-worst mark of the season, eclipsing only the Rutgers loss (.763 points per possession) on Jan. 9. Indiana made 4-of-16 from 3-point range. Three of those came from CJ Gunn. Indiana shot 9-of-15 (60 percent) from the line. Malik Reneau forced shots and went just 3-of-11 before fouling out with 7:09 remaining. Galloway went 2-of-4 from the line, missed all four of his 3-point attempts and made just 4-of-11 overall.

On the other end, Braden Smith finally had a strong game against Indiana. Smith’s 15 first-half points helped pace the Boilermakers over the first 20 minutes. Out of high ball screens, he was able to get all the way to the cup thanks to Indiana’s attention on Edey. Smith finished the contest with 19 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Edey (11-of-16) both took and made more free throws than Indiana did as an entire team tonight (9-of-15). He finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds. Nobody else on Purdue scored in double figures besides Smith and Edey.

Indiana has now lost to Purdue by 20 points and 21 points this season. According to Jeff Rabjohns, that’s the first time since the 1933-34 season the Hoosiers have lost by 20 or more in two regular season games to the Boilermakers. This is also Indiana’s seventh loss by 14 or more points this season.

“We have to continue to grow as a team,” Woodson said after the game. “This season isn’t over yet, anything can happen.”

What at least can’t happen again? A regular-season drubbing at the hands of Purdue.

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