Purdue struggles in 85-74 loss to No. 18 Indiana

Purdue coach Matt Painter appreciated the effort from his team

Sunday.

He’d just like to see it a little earlier.

The Boilermakers fell behind early at No. 18 Indiana, never

caught up and wound up losing 85-74 to their biggest rival in the

regular-season finale.

”They have some fight to them. At times we would like that to

be more consistent,” Painter said of his team. ”It’s obviously

been better in the past three weeks, but you would like to have

that fight right away and not dig yourselves a hole. Any time

you’re playing catch-up, it’s going to be tough on the road.”

The Boilermakers (20-11, 10-8 Big Ten) found there’s no tougher

environment to rally in than Bloomington, where they were trying to

win their third straight – something Purdue last did from

1968-71.

Instead, the Hoosiers jumped out to a double-digit lead in the

opening minutes, forced Painter to call three timeouts in the first

half and never allowed Purdue to get within a single possession of

even tying the game. It was the same blueprint Indiana used to beat

No. 5 Michigan State on Tuesday.

Lewis Jackson led the Boilermakers with 17 points and Robbie

Hummel had 16 before fouling out with 1:12 to go.

But after winning five of its previous six games, this was not

how Purdue wanted to head into this week’s Big Ten tournament. The

sixth-seeded Boilermakers play Thursday night against No. 11 seed

Nebraska.

”Is it frustrating that we lost? Yes, but we didn’t give in and

get blown out by 20, either, and we easily could have done that,”

Hummel said. ”I think we can take this loss and start working

toward, I believe we play Nebraska.”

The Boilermakers didn’t stick around to watch the Hoosiers’

Senior Day celebration.

Christian Watford scored 19 points and Will Sheehey added 16 as

Indiana’s first four-year players of the Tom Crean era said goodbye

to their home fans.

”We’ve been through a lot, and these four guys have been

through more than anyone will ever know,” former walk-on guard

Daniel Moore told the crowd. ”A lot more downs than ups, but that

makes what we’ve done even more sweet.”

Indiana’s five-man senior class achieved more than just about

anybody could have imagined when it entered Assembly Hall as the

start to a major rebuilding project.

After going 6-25 as freshmen and enduring three straight losing

seasons, the Hoosiers (24-7, 11-7) produced one of their most

memorable regular seasons in years.

Indiana became the first conference school in six decades to

upset a No. 1 and No. 2 team in one season. The Hoosiers became the

first team in school history to knock off three top-5 teams during

the regular season, and the latest victory puts Indiana within two

wins of its highest victory total since 1992-93.

Plus, the Hoosiers have their first season sweep of Purdue since

2005-06, and Indiana isn’t finished yet.

”These fellow seniors, we’ve been through just about everything

you can imagine and there’s one thing we haven’t done, so we’re

just going to keep working,” said Matt Roth, referring to what is

expected to be the school’s first NCAA tournament bid in four

years.

Indiana started fast and answered every Purdue challenge,

repeatedly beating the Boilermakers defense with crisp, precise

passes.

Everybody had a part.

Freshman center Cody Zeller had 13 points, seven rebounds and

two blocks. Junior guard Jordan Hulls had 10 points and five

assists. Victor Oladipo finished with nine points and eight

rebounds, and the five seniors combined for 18 points, including

nine from Roth and seven from Verdell Jones.

For the first 30 minutes, it looked as though it would be

easy.

The Hoosiers broke out to a 15-6 lead, extended the margin to

28-13 midway through the first half after a 10-0 run and led 49-34

at halftime against a defense that was allowing just 64.8 points

per game.

It didn’t look as though things would change much when Indiana

extended the lead to 58-40 on Zeller’s breakaway dunk with 13:58 to

go.

That’s when the Boilermakers finally rallied with an 8-1 run

that cut the deficit to 59-48 with 11:01 to go. After scoring eight

straight points, Purdue was within 65-58 with 6 minutes left.

But Indiana got two free throws from Watford, another from

Zeller and a 3 from Sheehey to rebuild a 71-58 cushion with 3:58 to

play. And after Purdue got within 77-71 with 1:18 to go, the

Hoosiers closed it out by making enough free throws to let the five

seniors dribble out the final 22.4 seconds and draw the loudest

ovation of the day.

”They have all evolved into doing what it takes to be

successful, what the team needs to be done,” Crean said. ”They’ve

changed for the better in truly understanding what it takes to make

teams successful and that’s why they’ll all be successful in

whatever they do.”

Indiana also honored those who died in the recent swarm of

tornadoes in southern Indiana with a moment of silence before the

national anthem.