There were good stretches, energized efforts as a team, and it even was a one-point game with 13 minutes to go, but none of that mattered as the same narrative rang true again.
Purdue executed at a higher rate, shot the ball better, and was far more disciplined than Indiana.
Indiana fell well short yet again to Purdue, 81-69, at home in Bloomington on Thursday night in a crucial loss to the Boilermakers. Indiana’s record now stands at 8-6 overall with a 3-4 Big Ten mark.
This was Purdue’s eighth consecutive win over the Hoosiers. Indiana head coach Archie Miller remains winless against Purdue in his tenure with an 0-6 record.
“It gets kind of old, we wanted to beat a team, change the culture about it,” Indiana sophomore Armaan Franklin said of the losing streak to Purdue.
Franklin made his first appearance since injuring his ankle against Maryland on Jan. 4. The sophomore had 14 points and seven rebounds in his return, but he was one of Indiana’s few bright spots.
Fellow sophomore Trayce Jackson-Davis led the team with 25 points and junior Race Thompson chipped in 13, but outside of those three there was practically no production from the rest of Indiana’s roster.
Indiana’s starting and veteran guards in Rob Phinisee and Al Durham combined for just seven points.
Due to the lack of guard production, Indiana’s one-dimensional attack of pounding the paint was its only source of scoring. While Jackson-Davis was dominant near the basket, his teammates couldn’t score much away from the paint.
The Hoosiers shot a season-worst 16.7% (3-for-18) from 3-point range. Outside of Jerome Hunter’s 2-for-5 3-point shooting display, the six other players who attempted from deep only combined to make one.
To make matters worse, Indiana could not shoot well from the free-throw line, either. The Hoosiers got to the line plenty, but barely made over half their attempts, going 16-for-29 from the charity stripe.
While Indiana’s offense stumbled, Purdue’s did not. Purdue did the opposite of Indiana from the 3-point line and continually torched the Hoosier defense.
“To be honest with you, they could pretty much do whatever they wanted to do,” Miller said of Purdue’s offensive attack. “We had no answer.”
The Boilermakers were extremely efficient from deep, making 11 of their 17 3-point attempts while starting the game 7-for-9. Five Purdue players found rhythm from beyond the arc with Eric Hunter, Jaden Ivey and Brandon Newman each making multiple. Hunter was particularly impressive, making 3 of 4 shots from the 3-point line.
In addition to Purdue’s 3-point barrage, there was plenty of production in the post, too. Junior center Trevion Williams methodically worked his way around the paint for 22 points.
With Indiana’s defense not executing in the paint or from deep, it allowed the Boilermakers to score 11 points more than their season average of 70.3 points per game.
“At the end of the day we just could not get stops,” Miller said. “We didn’t deserve to win the game.”
The loss really puts Indiana in an uncomfortable spot moving forward. They are now over the halfway mark of the season with only 13 games left. All 13 are challenging, but the next five are particularly tough.
The originally scheduled game at Michigan State for this Sunday has been postponed due to an outbreak of coronavirus with the Spartans. Now, Indiana will have a week to rest before playing at No. 5 Iowa.
From there, the remaining five game slate features Rutgers, No. 14 Illinois, Iowa again at home, and a road trip to No. 7 Michigan.
That slew of ranked opponents with no momentum might be daunting, but Miller hinted at the team needing to take it one game at a time, even if it was an ugly loss to their rival.
“At the end of the day in this league one loss feels monumental…but there’s a lot more coming,” Miller said. “We have to be better and we have to be ready.”