In one of college basketball’s most historic rivalries, Indiana and Purdue certainly delivered a game to remember for years to come.
The Hoosiers snapped their 9-game losing streak against No. 4 Purdue 68-65. Indiana improved to 12-0 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in their first season under Mike Woodson.
This was a huge win not only because the Hoosiers knocked off the Boilermakers for the first time since 2016, but also to bolster their resume for the March Madness committee. The Hoosiers have been near the bubble most of the season so this will certainly help their cause.
“It's huge. It's really huge,” Indiana guard Rob Phinisee said. "They're the fourth ranked team in the country, so it's really a schedule booster at the end of the season.”
The Boilermakers had a chance to tie at the end, but Jaden Ivey’s stepback jumper hit the backboard, then the rim, then off the backboard, then back off the rim.
The Hoosiers stormed the court in what was probably the biggest win at Assembly Hall since Christian Watford hit a buzzer beater three, in December of 2011, to knock off No. 1 Kentucky. This was Indiana’s highest ranked win since they knocked off No. 3 North Carolina in November 2016.
However, the Hoosiers biggest spark came off the bench from Rob Phinisee. He scored 20 points, 17 of those coming in the first half including a few spectacular layups and big-time shots to keep the Hoosiers in it. Phinisee also hit the game winning three with 17 seconds remaining. That is his second game winning shot with his first coming against Butler at the 2018 Crossroads Classic where he hit a buzzer-beating three. The breakout performance for the senior started before the game.
“I don't normally give inside scoop away, but Rob and I had a beautiful conversation hours before the ball game, and just nice to see how he stepped out and performed. It was beautiful to watch,” Woodson said.
Early in the game, Purdue’s Zach Edey was able to use his 7’4” height to his advantage not only scoring down low but picking up two fouls against Indiana star Trayce Jackson-Davis. Jackson-Davis only had one field goal attempt in 11 minutes tonight, but he did hit two clutch free throws in the final minute to extend Indiana’s lead to three. Without him on the floor the Hoosiers this season have been terrible, but tonight was different. Michael Durr was a big reason providing a season high 24 minutes. He defended Edey tough in the paint, along with getting two blocks and two steals. His teammates noticed the effort.
“Durr just staying ready, coming in and guarding and just his spark. The little mid-range he hit was huge, and just his energy and leadership he brings to the table is really big for us,” Phinisee said.
For the Hoosiers to pull off the upset tonight, they would have to get production out of their bench and also get rid of their bad habits. Turnovers have been a hot topic for Indiana basketball this year, but in this game, the Hoosiers took great care of the ball along with forcing Boilermaker turnovers. Indiana ended with a season-low 3 turnovers and Purdue had 12. The Hoosiers also had 9 steals compared to none for the Boilermakers.
Indiana will look to build off the win over Purdue as they face Michigan on Sunday in Bloomington. The game can be heard on WIUX 99.1 FM and the online stream HERE with Sam Newcombe and Zion Brown on the call from Assembly Hall.
PHOTO COURTESY OF IU ATHLETICS