Worst night ever? When it’s the worst loss at home ever in your 112 year history of playing your biggest rival, it’s hard not to feel that way. It was the worst home loss in the history of Mackey Arena, which has now been around for four decades. The 97 points scored by the Hoosiers also matched the most points allowed in the Matt Painter era. That happened at Florida State in Painter’s first season of 2005, an under-manned team that would finish 9-19.
The key for Purdue going forward is to somehow put this loss behind them quickly. While a young team needs to learn from nights like that, having it linger and affect their confidence is even worse. The Boilermakers were on the edge of the NCAA conversation simply because of being a Big Ten team that was over .500 on the year. It’ll be hard to live this loss down going forward, even when you lose to the third-ranked team in the country. Now the focus shifts to simply getting better each night, each day in practice, and trying to stay above that .500 mark to ensure an NIT berth.
Zeller early, Zeller often: It was evident from the jump that Indiana wanted to establish Cody Zeller early, and not have his offensive game stagnate the way it did against Penn State and Michigan State. Getting AJ Hammons in early foul trouble didn’t hurt, either. He picked up two before the first media timeout, and then a third before the four-minute mark.
Zeller would finish with 19 points and 11 boards, and would only need to play 25 minutes, saving plenty in the tank for Michigan on Saturday.
Line ‘em up, knock ‘em down: Indiana cashed in on those early Purdue fouls, or any Purdue fouls for that matter. The Hoosiers made 19 of 20 free throws on the night. After struggling from the line in trying to put away Minnesota, and leaving points at the line against Penn State, the Hoosiers had no such issue in distancing themselves from Purdue at the line. To expect Indiana to make 95 percent of their free throws every night is a bit much. But given their shooting ability, hitting 75 percent plus isn’t too much to ask.
AJ Hammons was one big bright spot: Having more points than minutes played is impressive (30 points in 28 minutes). Having as many points scored as the rest of your team combined is scary. Hammons showed his usual deft touch from the floor, had some nice post moves around Zeller, and had one monstrous dunk in the open court. Unfortunately, he had little to no help from anyone else wearing white on Wednesday.
In addition to a full stat line, he also had perspective, something you don’t often see from a freshman. When asked about his game afterwards, his response was short. “Not that good, we lost,” was his response to a question about how he played.
Oladipo is on another planet: Another outstanding night for the Big Ten player of the week, picking up 17 points, six boards, and three steals. It’s all about speed for Oladipo. Speed to get out in the passing lanes as he’s part of an Indiana group that charted 56 deflections during the game. Speed of movement in the half court to get to the basket on back cuts and great spacing by the Hoosiers. His speed of thought, knowing exactly where to be in the offense and in the passing lanes is part of that of that speed is well. He’s two steps ahead of everyone else on the floor right now.
Ferrell letting it fly: Indiana’s offense was one of the best in the country with Yogi Ferrell being a guy that wasn’t scoring much, simply creating for the other four guys on the floor. But with him hitting double figures for the third straight game, and making a trio of threes for the second time in that stretch, there’s no ceiling for this offense. Ferrell’s play has been outstanding even without much of a jumper. Add that to his game, the Hoosiers are virtually unguardable.
Playing to your talents: It’s something that Purdue has done well in terms of limiting their shots from three-point range. It’s been well-documented the lack of outside shooting this team has, and they made just two of eight threes attempted on Wednesday. But they had to control tempo to have any chance against the Hoosiers. Allowing 97 points is about as far from controlling tempo as possible.
Once you get down by 20 at the end of the first half, that game plan tends to go out the window. You had to speed up the game to try to play catch up. Overall, the emotion of the rivalry game and the environment got to the baby Boilers. They tried to match wits running with the Hoosiers, and suffered a legendary loss in the process.
No ‘trap game’ here: Saw that from a lot of the national types, and even some locals going into the game. This was never going to be a trap game. When the players on the floor have grown up playing against each other, there’s not going to be any sense of complacency. And as was pointed out after the game, the older players on Indiana’s team remember what it’s like to be on the other side of this rivalry, as they were for most of their freshman and sophomore seasons. Even with number one looming, Indiana was never going to look past this game.
Of pressing concern: The Twittersphere was a tither after the game in regards to Indiana’s starters still getting minutes and some full court press being played in the final minutes. Given the fact that Indiana’s starters have logged minutes late into games all season in blowout scenarios, their presence on the floor late didn’t strike me as anything out of the ordinary. Some full-court pressure was a little eyebrow-raising.
It wasn’t a ’40 minutes of hell’ type of trap, but still something you don’t see when leading by 30 points. As per usual, Matt Painter took the high road after the game. “When you play hard, you can do what you want. It’s not bragging when you can back it up,” said Painter. It was a classy response, but in rivalry games, these things tend to be remembered and repaid. Don’t know if that will occur in 16 days in Bloomington, more likely down the road with such a young team. But they won’t forget.
Indiana’s best might be the best: That was an absolute clinic. Indiana’s ball movement was outstanding, picking up 21 assists on 33 field goals. They turned it over just eight times on the night, and a handful of those were on offensive foul calls. They made 12 threes. It was almost a surprise when something didn’t fall.
It wasn’t lost on me that while Indiana was offering an offensive tutorial, the exact opposite was happening in the SEC with their best team in Florida. They allowed 10 first half points against South Carolina, and 36 in total for the game. Indiana might be the best offensive team in the country. Florida could be the best defensive team in the country. While Michigan currently has the title of best team in the country, there might just be a meeting of two other ‘best’ teams at some point the NCAA tournament. Maybe even at the Final Four.