Spearheaded by Will Sheehey's career game, top-ranked Indiana throttled Purdue, 83-55, Saturday afternoon inside Assembly Hall in a game that went just about as everyone expected.
If it's possible to grind out a 28-point win, the Hoosiers did it in this one.
Sheehey came off the bench and netted a career-best 22 points, hitting all nine of his field goal attempts to set a school record for single game field goal percentage. Sheehey, a fantastic cutter, nailed a pair of 3-pointers and repeatedly beat Purdue defenders on an array of dashes to the basket.
Cody Zeller added 19 points and nine rebounds for the Hoosiers (23-3, 11-2), who outscored Purdue 180-115 in this year's two regular-season meetings. Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls each buried three 3-pointers. Watford scored the game's first eight points and finished with 14. Hulls dished out five assists to go with 11 points. Yogi Ferrell added four points, six rebounds and five assists.
Victor Oladipo accumulated three points and five boards before rolling his ankle in the final minute of the first half. Oladipo sat on the bench for the second half, but did not play. The injury is not believed to be serious.
Anthony Johnson and Terone Johnson had 11 points apiece for Purdue (12-14, 5-8), who has lost five of its last six games, a stretch which began with Indiana's 97-60 triumph in West Lafayette. After dropping in 30 points in the first meeting, A.J. Hammons struggled his way to six points, including a scoreless first half.
The Hoosiers are set up for a monster contest Tuesday at No. 8 Michigan State. The Spartans have to take care of Nebraska this weekend, but it's a pretty safe bet that sole possession of first place in the Big Ten will be on the line.
- Let's be honest -- Indiana is very good, but, damn, there's no reason for Purdue to be this bad. After watching the two games against the Hoosiers, it must have taken an act of God for these Boilers to win five Big Ten games. It's hard to believe that just two years ago, Purdue was one of the best teams in the nation, not just the Big Ten, and Indiana went 3-15 in conference play. Just two years, people. Purdue had little to no shot in this one, but the Boilers didn't help themselves by leaving Watford and Hulls wiiiiiiiiiide open on multiple occasions in the first half. Couple that with Purdue's several unforced turnovers, and all Indiana had to do was show up today. Maybe I'm being harsh, but I thought that was a downright disgraceful performance for Purdue. The Boilers looked like a team that showed up to get their whoopin'.
- My favorite moment of the game today came at the 9:51 mark in the second half. If you have your DVR set, check it out. If you don't DVR Indiana games, then what the heck are you doing with your life?! Anyway, Purdue is inbounding the ball under its own bucket, and Zeller deflects the ensuing pass out of bounds. The ball has all but bounced into Purdue's bench, and Sheehey lays out in an effort to keep it in play. Matt Painter, standing just a few feet away, watched Sheehey dive while his player, Terone Johnson, stood by idly. He then points at Sheehey, looks at Johnson and says something. Jeff Rabjohns and Alex Bozich both tweeted from their press row seats that Painter said, "That's hustle. That's playing." That. Is. Awesome.
- I referenced it in the game recap, but, man, does Sheehey move well without the ball. He's the kind of guy that's a nightmare to guard. If the defender turns his head, poof, Sheehey is gone. Hulls and Ferrell deserve some credit, as well. It always helps to have two guards who always have their eyes up looking for an open man.
- Zeller seemed invisible in this one, and then I check the box score and see he had 19-9. Part of the reason it was such a quiet game for him is that very few of his points came from something he originated. It was typically someone else setting him up for an easy bucket -- either via pass or missed shot.
- Tom Crean didn't have to do much in this one except get the guys to the game on time, but I thought it was a brilliant move to switch Zeller off Hammons in favor of Watford. Zeller technically guarded Raphel Davis, but he basically played free safety. Davis isn't much of a threat, so Zeller was free to roam around and double Hammons when needed. It also helped keep Zeller out of foul trouble for a majority of the game. And there's this: Watford did a hell of a job on Hammons.
- Stephen Toyra and Neal Beshears combined to play 13 minutes for Purdue. Yep, it was that kind of game.
- The "Ball State's better" chant from the Indiana student section was hilarious and brutal. In Purdue's defense -- which they don't play much of -- the Boilers beat the Cardinals, 66-56, earlier this season.
- Lastly, I'd be remiss if I didn't elaborate on Oladipo's ankle injury. Having to play without him for any period of time would be a huge blow for the Hoosiers. Fortunately, it doesn't appear that's going to happen in this instance. Not only did Oladipo look like he was ready to check in at any moment as he sat on the bench, after the game, Sheehey said: "He's fine. He's fantastic, never been better," when asked about Oladipo's status. Crean said he "would go between precautionary and day-to-day" when admitting that Oladipo had a "sprained ankle." Crean finished by saying, "Wishful thinking would be that he would play (Tuesday), but we will have to see what happens in the next 24-36 hours." So maybe the injury is worse than it looked, or maybe Crean's engaging in a little gamesmanship with Tom Izzo. Hopefully it's the latter.