All rivalry games have a story. For most of the afternoon in Bloomington on Sunday, the story was the Indiana Hoosiers playing with grit and purpose against the favored Boilermakers.
Uncomfortable visions of 1988 and 1992 began dancing in the heads of Boilermaker fans. In 1988 the Purdue entered Assembly Hall looking to grasp a number one ranking in the AP poll. The Boilermakers left with a loss at the hands of the underdog Hoosiers. In 92, Indiana entered Mackey Arena with the intention of sealing a number one seed in the NCAA tournament. Those Hoosiers left Mackey Arena similarly disappointed. On Sunday Indiana seemed poised to deliver a similar upset before Purdue’s size and seniors finally ground out the victory.
The Hoosiers jumped out to an early 10 point lead Indiana coach Archie Miller used the athleticism of guard Robert Johnson and forward Juwan Morgan to spread the floor and attack the basket for layups off of high ball screens. Purdue center 7’2” Isaac Haas feasted down on smaller Hoosier defenders scoring early and often for the Boilermakers. Purdue pulled within two at the half trailing 37-35.
The No. 3 Boilermakers came out of halftime looking to grab control of the game. The Boilers went on a 9-2 run to begin the half. Sophomore guard Carsen Edwards quieted Assembly Hall with an electric breakaway dunk and foul. IU battled through Purdue’s early punch in the second half largely through the efforts of senior guard Robert Johnson who finished with 21 points. Johnson hit shot after shot with the shot clock expiring to keep the Hoosiers even with Purdue.
— Purdue Men’s Basketball (@BoilerBall) January 28, 2018
It was during the late stages of the second half that the game’s story turned. Purdue’s seniors made every play to cap a career record of 5 wins against 1 loss against Indiana. Vincent Edwards scored many of his 19 points in the second half on drives to the basket. Dakota Mathias and PJ Thompson steadied the Boilermakers, hit big three-pointers, and made the defensive plays to seal Purdue’s victory.
Isaac Haas played the role of the dominant center. Indiana had no answer for Haas who ended the game with 26 points. Haas scored nearly at will when he got the ball in the post. Haas also made the smart plays to make one dribble away from trouble to pass to open teammates as the game wore on its conclusion. Once Purdue got a three-point lead with three minutes remaining in the game, it became clear that the Boilers would not beat themselves with turnovers or missed free throws. Thompson came up big, as he is wont to do, on defense with a late steal to end Indiana’s chances.
Sunday’s game reiterated why this Purdue team is so strong. The Boilermakers entered the game ranked second in the nation in three-point shooting percentage. On Sunday, Purdue shot just 5/18 from beyond the arc for 27.8%. In spite of the poor shooting percentage, Purdue was able to exploit its strength inside using Haas and Vincent Edwards in the paint to defeat the Hoosiers.
Purdue took several of Indiana’s best punches in a hostile environment and responded with poise to continue its 17 game winning streak and stay in first place alone in the Big Ten standings. Purdue next plays Maryland at Mackey Arena on Wednesday at 8:30 pm.