Like a tennis official, the advantage in this bitter rivalry has shifted back to Bloomington. After dominating the series for almost four years our time on top is over until we work to get it back. It is hard to deny it after tonight, either. Rivalries are made to have the tide turn, however. it means it is now our turn to bide our time to get back on top.
In a game full of critical plays it is hard to pick just one that lost it. In fact, what lost it was Purdue's maddening inability to combine the times where its defense is working with the time its offense is working. Still, there was a chance with 2:23 left when Robbie Hummel got a steal and kicked it ahead to Lewis Jackson. We were down only four and on a break to cut it to two, but credit needs to be given to Will Sheehey for zipping back on defense. Instead of pulling back out, LewJack attacked, missed the basket, and IU came up with the loose ball.
Despite everything, a basket there is huge and puts the pressure on Indiana like in their loss to Nebraska. Unlike in that loss, the Hoosiers got better. Christian Watford got the rebound and was fouled. He hit a pair of free throws, Remy Abell hit a dagger of a three, and the game was over as Purdue fell apart, again. What could have been a close game, if not an improbable win, ballooned to an ugly 17 point loss as the Boilers suffered death by papercuts from the free throw line at the end.
Really, this game was the same old story. Purdue went long stretches without being able to hit a jump shot. Purdue could not get a stop in the critical first five minutes of the second half, either given up a basket or bailing Indiana out with a foul late in the shot clock. Now, what has been a frustrating season is spiraling away from the NCAA Tournament.
A ton of credit needs to be given to Indiana, who went out and won this game. They were the ones that got better when it mattered. Purdue had no answer for Victor Oladipo even though Cody Zeller was contained for the most part. Zeller still made plays when he needed to, however. In a way, Indiana won this game by doing what Purdue prides itself on. Their defense made Lewis Jackson a complete non-factor. They got after every loose ball and made every shot difficult. They hit key baskets when they needed to and Zeller was a defensive stalwart protecting the rim.
They didn't even beat us in the way I expected they would. If you had told me before the game Indiana would only take 10 three-pointers and hit three of them I'd think it was an easy win for Purdue. Instead, The Hoosiers shredded Purdue's defense by driving to the basket with Oladipo, getting critical offensive rebounds, and getting to the free throw line.
Basically, they did everything Purdue should be doing, and they were the better, tougher team tonight. Period. Yes, the officiating was questionable at best for most of the night, but that still doesn't change that Indiana was the better team. They earned this win by doing exactly what they needed to do to beat Purdue, and Purdue did itself no favors by once again having a disjointed offense that couldn't hit open jump shots and by failing to make plays defensively. It was odd to see the team in red playing the style of basketball we're used to playing, but that's what happened. It's also incredibly frustrating when you're sitting there in person.
Once again, I am not sure what is wrong with this team. People are questioning Matt Painter, and he deserves some of it, but Painter isn't missing shots. Painter isn't missing free throws. I think it is clear the talent is there because guys like Terone Johnson, Anthony Johnson, D.J. Byrd, and others are solid recruits. It is simply not meshing as it has in the past five seasons. It has made for a terribly frustrating season that manifested itself in nearly every aspect tonight. The only time we felt totally in control was when Ryne Smith score the opening basket. In a way, it was a lot like the 2008 Duke game, where a great atmosphere in the arena was quickly spoiled by a good, but awfully flawed team. It's been so frustrating it has been personally wearying.
All we can do now is move forward, however. We have a very difficult game at Ohio State next, then the schedule eases up a bit. The goal is still to make the NCAA tournament and it is a very attainable goal, but it is also a goal that took a major hit tonight.
So, Boiler fans, tip your cap to the Hoosiers. They are better than us right now. All that means is that we have a little more work to do.
P.S. My apologies for the game thread going all wonky. I won't load video from that site again. A Medal of Reasonableness will be presented to doublegoldandblack for his efforts in fixing it, because we all know the Open Thread issues made a bad night worse.