Indiana's Christian Watford celebrates after hitting a first-half 3-pointer that capped a surge and forced a Purdue timeout. - Michael Hickey
No. 3 Hoosiers put five in double figures, make statement against Boilers
That was awesome.
That is all.
OK, I'll give you a little more than that. But, dang, that was quite a show.
Sandwiched between a win over then-No. 13 Michigan State and Saturday's highly-anticipated matchup with top-ranked Michigan, Indiana had plenty of reasons to overlook tonight's game against Purdue.
Instead, the third-ranked Hoosiers -- only a 7.5-point favorite, according to Vegas -- handled their business in historic fashion.
All five starters scored in double figures, Indiana nailed a season-high 12 3-pointers and the Hoosiers throttled the Boilers, 97-60, Wednesday night inside Mackey Arena.
"To win here," said Indiana coach Tom Crean, according to the Associated Press, "you've really got to be on top of your game, and I don't just mean offensive and defensive execution -- it's attitude, it's energy, it's toughness, and our guys did all of those things tonight."
The win was a historic one in several ways:
- Before tonight, Indiana's most lopsided victory in Mackey was a 78-59 win in 1984.
- The Hoosiers' biggest triumph at any venue in West Lafayette was an 86-50 win in 1954.
- Purdue's worst loss at Mackey was a 21-point defeat in 2001 at the hands of Illinois.
- The 97 points marks the Hoosiers' highest point total against Purdue since scoring 106 back in 1992.
- The win fell narrowly short of setting the record for margin of victory (41 points) in the 199-game series.
"It is kind of neat," said Indiana's Cody Zeller, who moves to 3-0 against Purdue, "because IU has had so many great teams over the years and to be the biggest win, it's always nice to be part of history. And there's always a little extra here at Purdue."
Consider the stage set for Saturday's showdown with No. 1 Michigan, who was a 68-46 winner over Northwestern tonight.
As far as this one goes, the Hoosiers (19-2, 7-1) got 19 points and 11 rebounds (seven offensive) from Zeller, with 13 of those points coming in the second half. Christian Watford and Victor Oladipo added 17 points apiece. Yogi Ferrell and Jordan Hulls netted 11 and 10 points, respectively.
Indiana, much maligned for its road struggles a year ago, has won five consecutive Big Ten road games, dating back to last season.
"I think we played with resolve," said Crean, who guided Indiana to back-to-back wins at Mackey for just the fourth time in school history. "We were very authoritative on drives, and our pressure defense was up and active. We're getting more active defensively in the Big Ten, and we just keep moving the ball. I know it sounds easy, but it's not."
A.J. Hammons was a one-man wrecking crew for Purdue (11-10, 4-4), who had won four of its last five games. Hammons, a freshman, racked up a career-high 30 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Ronnie Johnson hit just 5 of 16 from the field for 13 points, and no other Boiler had more than four points. Hammons and Johnson made 15 of Purdue's 22 field goals.
"Facts are facts," Purdue coach Matt Painter said. "They played harder than us, and they played better than us. At the end, those guys were out there celebrating, and that's what it's all about. ... They're a good team, and we're not. We play like individuals."
You name the statistic, Indiana dominated it.
The Hoosiers won the turnover (18-8) and rebounding (39-29) battles. The Hoosiers had 21 assists on 33 baskets. Indiana made 19 of 20 free throws while Purdue was 14 for 19. The Hoosiers went 12 of 25 from the 3-point line, and Purdue misfired on 6 of 8 from deep.
Just a thoroughly dominating performance from start to finish.
"We knew how they were going to be," said Purdue's Travis Carroll. "We saw them on TV. We expected it. We just didn't play up to it."
Indiana pounded the ball inside to Zeller early. The game plan paid off as Hammons and D.J. Byrd each picked up two quick fouls. The Hoosiers kept attacking and pieced together a 9-0 spurt -- with four different players scoring -- to take a 27-17 advantage.
Hammons, reinserted by Painter to stop the bleeding, was whistled for his third foul at the 4:18 mark in the opening half. With Purdue's
only top offensive threat sidelined, the Hoosiers grabbed the game by the throat, sprinting away on a 13-2 half-ending spree to take a commanding 47-27 cushion into the break.
Indiana put on the finishing touches with a 14-1 run midway through the second half.
"I thought we played pretty well," Zeller said. "It was good to see everyone working together. When the ball is moving from side to side and up and down the court like that, we're a tough team."
The Hoosiers -- owners of eight wins of at least 30 points this year -- face off with Michigan at 9 p.m. Saturday night in the most-anticipated game of the year thus far in college hoops. It will mark the highest combined rankings of two teams to ever play at Assembly Hall.
Let the hype begin.