With 5:26 to go in the first half and Purdue looking like the game was getting away from them there was a stoppage in the game as an IU player landed on his backside. I had no idea what happened because it was so far off the ball. The officials went to review the altercation and it became abundantly clear that Jaden Ivey was in the wrong as he pushed the IU defender to the ground seemingly unprovoked. He was lucky to not have been ejected. We don’t know what was said between the two but that’s the kind of situation where Ivey has to understand how important he is for this team and keep his emotions in check. He would finish the first half with just two points.
There was a parallel moment in the second half that to me turned the game around. Jaden Ivey was driving to the basket when a foul was called IU prior to the shot. As you would expect, Ivey continued his motion to try to get the and one. Instead what happened was Race Thompson grabbed Ivey’s arm and pulled him down and was called for a flagrant foul. After that, Ivey was mad and did everything he could to take over this game.
At least, this is what I had written until IU won the game in the last minute. Instead, I’m sitting here thinking about what could have been.
John Wooden Memorial Player of the Game (JWMPOTG): Jaden Ivey earns this despite the rough first half and the errant last shot with Purdue down one. It was a decent shot but I’m not sure it was the best shot available at the time but he certainly was the one I wanted to take the shot. He even had one more chance with Purdue down three and his three that would have sent the game to overtime rimmed out. Heartbreaking.
As John F. Kennedy once said, victory has a thousand fathers but defeat is an orphan. Everyone wants credit when things are going well but no one wants to take the blame when something goes wrong. Well, tonight for Purdue just about everything went wrong. Well, everything except IU big man and star Trace Jackson-Davis getting in foul trouble early and often. He barely played in the game to be honest but he did his damage when it counted at the very end of the game.
The star for IU though was senior guard, from Lafayette no less, Rob Phinisee who went off for a career high 20 points. None of course bigger than the three to put IU back on top for good with under 30 seconds to go.
Perhaps the main culprit for Purdue in this game was the awful free throw shooting. Casey and I have talked about this on the podcast time after time but eventually free throws were going to catch up to this team and tonight was that night. When looking at these stats keep in mind that many of these were the front end of one and ones. Purdue was just 7-17 from the line. That’s the ballgame. Despite being lazy with their passes and turning the ball over 12 times to IU’s three Purdue wins this game if they hit their free throws.
As big of a strength as the center position has been for Purdue, and with TJD out with foul trouble, the 5 was a real issue for Purdue tonight. Trevion Williams had probably the worst game of his season and at a crucial time. He contributed just two points while turning the ball over an astonishing four times (though I believe it was 5 and this box score is wrong). With a chance to put Purdue up four with under a minute to play Trevion missed a shot he’s made 100 times just this season alone (yeah that’s an exaggeration) which allowed IU to take the lead on the late three.
When you play your rival on their home court and you allow them to hang around you have to assume that eventually they will take advantage. Purdue didn’t play a good game tonight and IU took advantage. It’s unfortunate that this is how the streak of 9 straight victories over IU has to end but we knew it would eventually. If Purdue had played a good game and lost I could live with it but this was just another example of Purdue allowing an opponent to hang around and finally get the bucket that mattered right at the end. This Purdue team has all the potential in the world but until they put it together that’s all it is. Potential.