WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) — Coach Matt Painter appreciated Purdue’s defensive effort Thursday.
Indiana’s poor shooting made it look even better.
On a night Trevion Williams scored 19 points and Eric Hunter Jr. added 17, the Boilermakers managed to bear down and hold on for a critical 57-49 victory over the Hoosiers.
“They have good perimeter players and we thought if we could have good rotations out of the double, we could clog things up,” Painter said. “
There was nothing pretty about it.
Neither team managed to make 40% of its shots. They were a combined 7 of 41 on 3-pointers. The ball repeatedly banged hard off the rim, off the glass, even once off the top of backboard. And there were wrestling matches for loose balls and long stretches where both teams produced few or any points.
Yet, somehow, Purdue made ugly look desirable.
“I thought we played a little bit better today,” Painter said. “Obviously we didn’t shoot well. Sometimes people confuse the two, but I thought it was a good grind-it-out win even though it was pretty hard to watch.”
The desperate Boilermakers (15-14, 8-10 Big Ten) snapped a four-game losing in the most tantalizing way — another sweep of their in-state rival and their seventh consecutive victory in the series.
For Indiana, it was just plain miserable.
Coach Archie Miller waved his arms, pleading with players to speed things up. Nothing worked.
The Hoosiers (18-10, 8-9) missed their first four shots, all at the rim. Then they missed 13 straight shots during another stretch and closed the half with a scoring drought of 3:44.
It was that last stretch when the Boilermakers took control with a 10-2 run that ended with Hunter’s emphatic dunk to make it 29-20 at halftime.
“That’s the game. The last two minutes going into halftime, 29-20, in this type of game that nine-point lead is like 15 or 16 with the way the defense was playing,” Miller said.
Things got even worse for Indiana in the second half.
Purdue scored the first seven points while holding the Hoosiers scoreless for the first 6:33, extending the lead to 16.
Indiana finally showed some spark with a 10-2 run that cut the deficit in half and they got as close as 51-46 in the final minute, courtesy of two free throws from Devonte Green with 46 seconds left. Green led the Hoosiers with 11 points.
But Purdue made its last six free throws to seal the win. Indiana saw its two-game winning streak come to an end while its fifth straight at Mackey Arena.
Indiana: The Hoosiers have had some rough patches this season — but nothing quite like this. They were 6 of 28 from the field and 2 of 9 on 3-pointers in the first half. They finished with a shooting percentage of 25.4% — their worst in six years — and were 5 of 24 on 3s. So after it appeared the Hoosiers’ offense was making progress, Indiana now finds itself trying to rebound from an unforgettable loss.
Purdue: The Boilermakers continued to dominate this series with defense — and perhaps just in time to make a last-ditch push for the NCAA Tournament. Purdue remains two games under .500 in conference play and may need to win its last two and a couple more in the conference tourney to solidify its resume. But at least they have a chance.
Indiana: Rob Phinisee scored seven points in his hometown. … Joey Brunk had seven rebounds. … The Hoosiers held a 16-12 advantage in offensive rebounds. … After committing eight turnovers in the first half, they wound up with 13. … The Hoosiers was outscored 34-20 in the paint.
Purdue: Williams had eight rebounds and Hunter Jr. matched his career high with seven. … Matt Haarms wound up with six points, seven rebounds and two blocks. … The Boilermakers had their own woes, going 1 of 9 on 3s in the first half and finishing 2 of 17 from beyond the arc.
THEY SAID IT
Indiana: “I thought those guys defended really well. In particular in the paint (they) made it very, very difficult for us around the rim (with) close doubles, sort of take our big guys out of the game,” Miller said. “Our inability to sort of stretch the floor and make some shots was a problem.”
Purdue: “It definitely was an energy booster for us, especially coming out in the second half really ready to go,” Williams said, referring to Hunter’s dunk
Indiana: Visits Illinois in its Big Ten road finale Sunday.
Purdue: Closes out its conference road schedule Tuesday at No. 18 Iowa.
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