First of all, this was not a moral victory. Indiana had the chance to win, failed to do so, and the result was a Purdue win at Assembly Hall, always an unacceptable result. In the last five minutes, Purdue's experience and IU's inexperience showed.
What is encouraging, however, is that there really wasn't some anomalous part of Purdue's effort that explains how the seemingly overmatched Hoosiers state in the game. Robbie Hummel, E'Twaun Moore, and JaJuan Johnson scored near or above their season average. Purdue's shooting and three point shooting and turnover numbers were on par with their usual efforts. For whatever reason, the Hoosiers were able to match Purdue, for whatever reason. IU's only decided advantage was in three point shooting, where IU made 8-16 and Purdue made 6-19, but the decisive factor was free throw shooting. At halftime, IU led by 4, and the game was very evenly matched statistically except for IU's free throw shooting. At the end of the game, the story was similar: the game was pretty even in terms of shooting percentage, rebounding, and turnovers, but Purdue got to the line more often and, despite an anomalous 7-10 performance from Robbie Hummel, took advantage of the opportunities. At hafltime, IU was 11-13 from the line and Purdue was 5-8 from the line. In the second half, Purdue was 15-20 and IU was 2-5, and most crucially, all three misses were the front end of 1-and-1 opportunities in the final five minutes of the game. Purdue dialed up the intensity of its defense and IU did not have nearly the interior opportunities that were there in the first half. Still, for all of IU's second half struggles, Verdell Jones III hit one three pointer in the final 30 seconds and had a very good look for another that would have sent the game to overtime.
Ultimately, this was yet another game that is hard to square with some of IU's other performances. This team has been wildly inconsistent. Are games like the 15 point home loss to Iowa behind us? It's hard to say, but it's obvious that efforts like the one IU put on the floor last night would be good enough to beat a number of remaining teams on the schedule. Hopefully IU can find a way to do that.
As for the individual performances by the Hoosiers:
Tom Pritchard wasn't much of a factor in the second half, but he was 5-5 in the first half and finished with 13 points on 6-7 from the fuield and 5 rebounds.
- Verdell Jones again carried the Hoosiers. He scored 22 points on 8-17 from the field.
- Christian Watford struggled, as he sometimes does against physical teams. He was only 2-11 from the field but did have 8 rebounds.
- Jeremiah Rivers scored 7 points on 2-6 from the field, thanks to an encouraging 3-3 from the line, but had three of IU's 10 turnovers and took a couple of exceptionally poor shots.
- Devan Dumes was a spark off the bench, scoring 11 points on 7 shots, but took one really ill-conceived three pointer.
Oh, and Kelsey Barlow? You'll get yours. You started the game, but shot 2-6 from the field and played only 18 minutes. Some might say that was more of a "choke" than anything IU did. Keep in mind that you won't always have Hummel, Moore, and Johnson to fight your battles. Also, while I didn't see it on TV, it sounds like Purdue was up to its usual stomp-the-floor antics. Matt Painter worked himself into a self-righteous lather a few years ago when Earl Calloway said something to the Purdue bench. We'll see if he addresses the conduct of his own team. I doubt it.