This was a tale of two halves, but fortunately for IU, the Hoosiers' dominant performance in the first half more than negated Purdue's strong second half performance. IU made 20 of 30 shot attempts in the first half, including 8-14 from deep, and held Purdue to 12-33, and led by 15 at halftime. Things were different in the second half, with Purdue shooting 51 percent and IU shooting 35 percent, but not different enough. After losing the free throw battle in the first half, IU went to the line 23 times in the second half. The end result was that as in the game at Mackey, Purdue got close enough to make a game of it, (6 points with 1:20 remaining), but never came close to regaining the lead that they relinquished for good in the first three minutes of the game.
Unfortunately, things got a bit dicey offensively in the second half, in part because of Purdue's defense and in part because of some stagnation on IU's part. Still, IU made its free throws down the stretch and held on. Isn't it amazing how momentum changes the perception of a game? When Purdue pulled to within 7 with about 6 minutes remaining, I was incredibly nervous. Had the game been nip-and-tuck the whole way, a 7 point lead with 6 minutes to go would have felt great. I have to give credit to Purdue for hanging in there. I was getting a bit greedy with the first half onslaught, with images of the century mark and clearing the bench with 5 minutes left. Thanks to some solid offense from Purdue in the second half, it didn't happen.
- Christian Watford seems to be peaking at the right time: 19 points, 6-9 from the field, 6-6 from the line, 16 boards.
- Cody Zeller was Cody Zeller: 13 points on 4-6 from the field and 5-8 from the line, 7 boards.
- Victor Oladipo was solid, although didn't dominate the way he did in the first Purdue game. 9 points on 3-6 shooting and a team-high 8 rebounds.
- Tom Pritchard was on the board in his final game, scoring one bucket on a nice move. Two of his missed shots, a shot-clock defying three pointer and an attempted thunder dunk, would have brought the house down.
- Verdell Jones III had another nice game off the bench. He scored seven points and had 2 assists, 2 blocks, and 2 steals.
- Matt Roth's performance may have been decisive. His three first half three pointers contributed to the cushion with which IU played for most of the game.
- Will Sheehey played one of his best games in recent memory, scoring 6 points on 5-7 from the field, including 3-4 from deep, and adding five rebounds.
As for Purdue, Robbie Hummel played a fine game, and kept Purdue in it with some timely three point shooting, but he unwittingly committed his fifth foul to stop the clock, and IU was fortunate to have him on the bench for the final 1:12. Purdue relied heavily on its seniors, and it will be interesting to see how Purdue does next year.
Well, I think we all would have taken 24-7 before the season, particularly if we had known it would include a 3-0 record against Purdue and Kentucky, right? Other than a brief midseason stumble, this has been an extremely fun season. IU's .774 winning percentage is the second-highest (behind the 25-6 record in 2008) winning percentage with which IU has ever entered the Big Ten Tournament, which began in 1998. Even if IU loses its first Big Ten Tournament game then IU's pre-NCAA winning percentage will be the second-highest since 1993. For the first time in four years, we aren't just waiting for it to be all over. Thank goodness.