Purdue and Indiana meet in basketball this Sunday for the lone scheduled matchup this year. It is the 7th time since 2002 the two teams have only met once in Big Ten play and barring a meeting in New York in the Big Ten Tournament, it will be the last time it happens because of the expanded schedules and protected rivalries starting next year. Since Purdue and Indiana have only met once in the Big Ten tournament (all the way back in 1998, the first B1G tournament), this is the only chance to celebrate the best rivalry in college basketball (Yeah, suck it, Duke and Carolina).
If the first meeting next season comes in Bloomington it will mark the 5th time in six games Purdue has had to go to Assembly Hall in The Rivalry. The teams played the last 2015 game there, the only 2016 meeting there, and the first 2017 meeting there. Already, Sunday marks the fourth game in 5 that has been played in Bloomington, but Purdue has won two of three. The perceived mismatch can be grounds for some Purdue payback, too.
On January 30, 2013, almost five years to the day, Indiana came to Mackey Arena with an 18-2 record and atop the Big Ten at 7-1. Conveniently, they were ranked No. 3 nationally. Purdue was barely above water at 11-9 and 4-3 in the league. We had lost to the likes of Bucknell at home and Eastern Michigan on the road. Any hopes of an NCAA bid would rely on some Mackey magic against a really good Indiana team.
What followed was the worst defeat for Purdue in the 50-year history of Mackey Arena.
It was the 199th meeting overall, but Purdue had lost both games the previous year to the Hoosiers after winning five in a row. We were a young team. A.J. Hammons and Rapheal Davis were freshmen and we were still trying to transition from the Hummel-Moore-Johnson teams. It was a team in disarray too. Of the 11 Boilermakers that played that day a whopping five (Anthony Johnson, Ronnie Johnson, Jacob Lawson, Donnie Hale, and Sandi Marcius) would transfer from the program within two years.
Indiana left very little doubt from the get-go. Purdue would lead 2-0 and 4-3 in the first two minutes, but Indiana started to bomb away from three and pull away. They would lead just 18-17 with 11:11 left in the first half, but it ballooned to 47-27 by halftime. Christian Watford, Yogi Ferrell, and Jordan Hulls were all bombing away. Victor Oladipo was playing like the No. 2 overall pick he was and Cody Zeller was taking it to Hammons.
Somehow, the second half was worse. That’s probably because Will Sheehey did one or two good basketball things and started flexing. Purdue couldn’t hit anything at all and Indiana was just toying with us. The only Boilermaker who had a good day was Hammons, who went for a career high 30 on 10 of 14 shooting and 10 of 12 from the line. He had half of Purdue’s points as Indiana pulled away for a 97-60 win.
How good was Hammons? The rest of Purdue was a dismal 12 of 41 from the floor and 4 of 7 from the line. The Boilers only attempted eight three-pointers and hit two. Indiana hit on 12 of 25 but I was there and it felt like they were somehow 25 of 12. Purdue turned the ball over 18 times to Indiana’s 8 and had 11 assists to Indiana’s 21. The Hoosiers were an offensive machine. Sheehey dished out 7 assists and Purdue did nothing to stop his incessant preening. Ronnie Johnson had 13 points and 5 assists, but no one else did anything of note. Hammons may have won the individual battle with Cody Zeller (and Zeller still had 19 and 11), but Indiana easily won the war.
I was sitting in the upper level behind the south basket for this game and there were a lot of Indiana fans that had purchased tickets from Purdue fans around me. As the game went on Mackey got quieter, Purdue fans got thinner, and the candy-striped fans around me got louder. At the under 8 timeout of the second half Purdue trailed 75-45 and there was no real reason to stay except one:
“I am not leaving and letting all these Indiana fans have the joy of taunting me as I slink out of my home arena,” I told my wife. She was 6 months pregnant at the time too, so I am still paying for it most likely.
I stayed until the bitter end. I watched Maurice Creek hit a meaningless three with 43 seconds left as Indiana was clearly racing to 100. I watched Derek Elston hit a three with 2 minutes left that caused the Indiana bench to erupt. I watched Remy Abell outhustle a dead Purdue for a rebound putback with 1:07 left. I saw it all, and only left as the final buzzer sounded. Sure, I fled the building like it was on fire then, but I stayed to the end.
The 37-point margin of victory is the worst loss by margin in Mackey history. It is one that will not likely be topped for a while, if ever. Purdue went on to finish that season at 16-18 and had the indignity of playing in the CBI and losing at home to Santa Clara (note to all Big Ten teams: Never play in the CBI). Indiana won the Big Ten outright and had a legit shot of winning banner No. 6 before running into Syracuse. It was pretty much a worst case scenario for Purdue fans. The return game in Bloomington was slightly closer, but still a 28 point loss just 17 days later.
Sunday is an opportunity, however. I am certainly not counting on it because Purdue doesn’t win in Assembly Hall much at all (11-32 all-time and that is with winning two of the last three). We haven’t won by more than 12 in Bloomington since 1977 when we won 80-63. That’s 41 years where Indiana has at least played us close on its home floor no matter what, and about 75% of the time they have won outright. It is one of only two double-digit wins in Bloomington since 1937, the other being 72-61 in 2011.
Indiana has struggled at home this year though, famously against Indiana State and Fort Wayne. We don’t have Bryson Scott or Brenton Scott, but according to the Daily Hoosier they were the 3rd and 4th largest losses by margin in Assembly Hall history:
February 25, 2010 – 32 point loss to Wisconsin
February 25, 2009 – 22 point loss to Northwestern
November 10, 2017 – 21 point loss to Indiana State
December 18, 2017 – 20 point home loss to Fort Wayne
January 27, 1977 – 19 point loss to Minnesota
January 24, 1990 – 18 point loss to Michigan State
March 6, 2004 – 18 point loss to Wisconsin
December 31, 2010 – 18 point loss to Ohio State
January 6, 1977 – 17 point loss to Purdue (tie)
February 19, 2009 – 17 point loss to Wisconsin (tie)
December 12, 2009 – 17 point loss to Kentucky (tie)
February 10, 2010 – 17 point loss to Ohio State (tie)
So the record is 32. Since they own the record in our building it would only be polite to return the favor almost five years to the day.
Of course, I don’t expect to do that. That’s what makes this rivalry so good. 30-point blowouts either way are rare. As I mentioned earlier, in 2010 Purdue was in the top 10 facing a pretty moribund Indiana team and the Hoosiers came within a missed Verdell Jones III 3-pointer as time expired of forcing overtime. Juan said it best in our group chat this morning:
I don’t think that’s going to happen because Ass Hall is full of weird juju voodoo dark magic. – Juan Crespo.
He is probably right, but returning the favor from 5 years ago would be really nice.