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Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis celebrate during Indiana's win over top-ranked Purdue on Feb. 4. (HN photo/Eden Snower)
Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis celebrate during Indiana's win over top-ranked Purdue on Feb. 4. (HN photo/Eden Snower)

'He lives for these big moments': Jalen Hood-Schifino delivers with his number called against No. 1 Purdue

Indiana's freshman guard gave Indiana fans a (not-so-distant) blast to the past

We’ve seen this story before.

Mike Woodson called a timeout in the final minute against Purdue in front of a rambunctious Assembly Hall crowd. The play was drawn up for Indiana’s point guard, wearing No. 1. 

In 2022, senior point guard Rob Phinisee delivered in the waning moments to sink the dagger against the Boilermakers.

On Saturday, it was a new name rocking the No. 1 uniform. Indiana was clinging to a 73-70 lead with 41 seconds when Woodson huddled his squad to draw up a look.

I’m going to get this last bucket.

Those were Jalen Hood-Schifino’s words to Woodson during the timeout. 

“He asked for the ball coming down the stretch,” Woodson said of his freshman point guard. “I drew up two plays to get it to him, and he delivered,” Woodson said after the game.

With the shot clock winding down, Hood-Schifino received a screen heading right from Race Thompson. Once Hood-Schifino got past his initial defender, Purdue center Zach Edey—standing at 7 feet, 4 inches tall—awaited him at the basket.

Hood-Schifino has been a shaky finisher all season long. He entered Saturday shooting 41.3% on 2-point shot attempts, which was the worst mark of any Hoosier. Despite having a strong ball handle and adequate athleticism, Hood-Schifino often settles for mid-range shots off the bounce. When he does get all the way downhill, Hood-Schifino tends to shy away from contact against big men at the hoop.

But when his No. 1 was called at the end of Saturday’s clash with Purdue, Hood-Schifino initiated a bump with Edey and kissed a layup off the glass to put the Hoosiers ahead by five.

“He lives for these big moments,” Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said of Hood-Schifino.

No. 21 Indiana held its ground after the bucket and defeated No. 1 Purdue 79-74. For the second year in a row, the Hoosiers took down the Boilermakers in Bloomington.

Last January it was Phinisee, the first point guard recruit of the Archie Miller era, scoring 20 points as the catalyst for Indiana to take down Purdue. 

On Saturday it was Hood-Schifino, Woodson’s first point guard recruit, logging 16 points (12 in the second half) for the Hoosiers to outlast Purdue. 

This season hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Hood-Schifino. In the past two weeks, he’s recorded games with two, six and three points. Hood-Schifino shot 1-for-14 with three points on Tuesday night at Maryland in what was likely his worst game of the year.

“Games like that, when your shot’s not falling, I don’t really look at it as a bad game to me,” Hood-Schifino said. “I went 1-of-14, but in my head, I still shot the ball so I took a positive from that.”

The poor performance on Tuesday didn’t deter Hood-Schifino from firing against Purdue. No matter what happens the game before, Hood-Schifino keeps shooting away. He’s attempted 10 or more field goals in nine of Indiana’s past 10 games.

Since the start of January, Hood-Schifino has also had games with 21, 33 and 24 points. The potential for Hood-Schifino to consistently star for the Hoosiers is apparent. 

Hood-Schifino understands that this team needs him to play “Robin” to Jackson-Davis’ “Batman.” Even if it means missing 13 shots in a game, Hood-Schifino is never a nonfactor for the Hoosiers.

The game was capped by a Hood-Schifino breakaway dunk. The IU student section stormed the floor once again after overcoming Purdue. It was Indiana’s first win over the No. 1 team in the country since the Hoosiers beat Michigan on Feb. 2, 2013.

Fans storm the court at Assembly Hall after Indiana’s win over top-ranked Purdue on Feb. 4. (HN photo/Eden Snower)

What’s next for Indiana is a Tuesday night test against Rutgers. The Hoosiers have had nightmarish luck facing the Scarlet Knights. Rutgers has won six straight matchups against Indiana, including a 63-48 finish in Piscataway on Dec. 3. Indiana’s last win over Rutgers came on March 10, 2019, when IU won an 89-73 game in Bloomington.

IU followed up its victory over Purdue last year with an 18-point home loss to Michigan. While Tuesday’s game against Rutgers isn’t close to a must-win, IU should aim to finally take the Scarlet Knights down. 

Plus, Indiana’s seen this story before. Indiana’s loss to Rutgers in December came after it won a high-energy game over a ranked North Carolina squad earlier in the week. 

For now, Hood-Schifino had one of his better moments in the No. 1 uniform to put the No. 1 team to bed. The story of Hood-Schifino’s freshman season has had its fair share of plot twists, but on Saturday, he showed Hoosier fans something new and something old all at once.

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