Here's the box score.
This was a strange game. I thought, for the most part, that IU played hard and with more heart than they have shown in most of the games in the 11-game losing streak, which I suppose isn't saying much. IU never led and never seriously threatened Purdue, but on the other hand, after Purdue quickly extended its lead into double digits, the game settled into sort of an equilibrium and did not turn into the complete bloodbath that I expected. That's not to claim that this game shows many positives for IU. The Hoosiers struggled to get good looks and seemed a bit lost against Purdue's motion offense. IU deliberately sagged off Lewis Jackson, who has not shot well in his limited playing time this season, and he shot 3-4 from the field. Chris Kramer, described by some idiot as "an excellent defender but isn't much of a scoring threat within the offense," was Purdue's offense, scoring 18 points on 7-8 from the field. Purdue shot nearly 50 percent, turned the ball over only 8 times, and got to the line 31 times to IU's 5. I certainly can't blame officiating for last night's loss, at all, but is it really possible for a team as physical as Purdue to commit only one foul only four minutes? Of course, it was the overextended old folks officiating crew, with Ed Hightower, Jim Burr, and the slightly younger but hopelessly compromised Rick Hartzell (the Northern Iowa athletic director who screwed the 2005 Hoosiers, who were on the bubble with UNI, in a game at Wisconsin). The most egregious almost-call would have gone in IU's favor. An IU player deflected a ball off another IU player and it then went out of bounds. This happened right in front of Jim Burr, but Hartzell had to come in and overrule him. Who could have made that crew more annoying? Ted Valentine? Tim Higgins?
The Hoosiers box score is entering Groundhog Day territory. Poor shooting, too many turnovers, only 7 assists on 23 field goals, and so on. The only positive glimmer was on the defensive boards: IU had 24 defensive boards to only 5 offensive rebounds by Purdue. As for the individuals:
Derek Elston played well off the bench, scoring 13 points on 5-10 from the field and grabbing 7 rebounds in 24 minutes of play. Unfortunately, Elston and Tom Pritchard, in a combined 41 minutes of play, committed 10 fouls.
- Verdell Jones III led IU with 15 points, but was only 6-15 from the field and got to the line an uncharacteristically low 3 times.
- Jordan Hulls and Jeremiah Rivers combined for 14 points and 7 turnovers.
- Bawa Muniru looked like he knew what he was doing out there, but played only three minutes before being smacked in they eye by his teammate Tijan Jobe.
Well, that's over. I was dreading this game, and while the Hoosiers were picked apart by a superior team, I didn't think they gave up. The Hoosiers have two games remaining, and absent some really remarkable upsets, IU's next two games both will be against Northwestern. Iowa has four wins and swept the Hoosiers, so IU cannot ascend any higher than the #10 seed. IU is tied for 10th with Penn State but won the only matchup between the two teams, and the Nittany Lions play Michigan State tonight and Purdue this weekend. Northwestern, which swept Michigan, is locked into the 7th seed unless IU beats NU and Michigan wins at Michigan State. Also, Minnesota could get into the 8-10 mix if the Gophers lose at home to Iowa. In any event, the Hoosiers have one final chance to show some improvement in the regular season, and hopefully it will happen.