Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

IU basketball: Indiana at Purdue — The report card

The why doesn’t seem to matter much anymore.  The journey is different each time, but down the stretch of this season, and against this opponent, the results just always seem to be the same.

Indiana lost its fifth in a row on the season and ninth straight to rival(?) Purdue by a final score of 67-58 in West Lafayette, Ind. on Saturday.

There is some good news.  Indiana fans have almost been put out of their misery.  But first one of the program’s most miserable events looms.

The Hoosiers (12-14, 7-12) will be the No. 10 seed at the Big Ten Tournament this week.  They will play either Maryland or Rutgers at 6:30 p.m. ET on Thursday.

OVERALL (C-)

The details were different than the loss at Michigan State on Wednesday.  But similar to that contest, Indiana played hard, had a chance late, and ultimately couldn’t produce enough on the offensive end.

“If we’re getting stop after stop after stop after stop, and you can’t score, at some point you cave in,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said.

And that is exactly what happened.  Twice.

After IU opened the game with a 7-0 lead, Purdue would respond with a prolonged 28-9 run that would prove to be the difference in the game.  Much like the first meeting, that gave the Boilermakers a double-digit first half lead that Indiana was never able to overcome.

Indiana pulled to within 47-42 with 6:29 remaining on a pair of Jordan Geronimo free throws, but Purdue immediately scored six unanswered to all but put it away.

“We’ve played two of our hardest fought games this week,” Miller said. We keep that going and we’ll find a way to break through.”

On its face that is a perfectly understandable statement by Miller.  But if said break through doesn’t happen by Thursday, it’s lights out.  And unless said break through results in the first three game winning streak of the season, it’s lights out.

OFFENSE (D-)

Since they peaked at 35.3 percent and entered the national top-100 from 3-point range a few weeks ago, Indiana has made just 23 of 95 3-pointers over the last five games (24.2 percent), dropped outside the top-200, and of course lost every game.

The Hoosiers have been without starting guard and top 3-point shooter Armaan Franklin during most of that span, and his absence has made IU a bit easier to defend.   Teams are willing to take their chances with the Hoosiers’ shooters and that has proven to be a good strategy.

“We’re not shooting well from the perimeter,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “You can’t win in this league without shooting a little bit.”

Rather than a team jacking up bad shots, Miller believes the 3-pointers his team was taking were mostly good ones, and perhaps the only kind of open shots his team was going to get against Purdue’s pack it in, post-double approach.

“In the first half we were 1-for-13 from three,” Miller said, “and 11 of those were good looks. If we make two or three, it makes a big difference.” … “At some point, we have to make some shots.”

The rest of Indiana’s offensive profile was good enough to win.  They made 15 of 29 shots from inside the arc.  They made 72.2 percent of their free throws.  They had 13 assists on 20 field goals, and an acceptable 12 turnovers.

But at .882, Indiana was under .9 points per possession for the fourth straight game.  And their struggles from long range were once again the story.

Photo by Mike Schumann / The Daily Hoosier

DEFENSE (B-)

Indiana gave up 1.018 points per possession, but the Hoosiers have given up more in games they won this year.  Purdue scored 19 points in the last 5:54 including 12 at the free throw line to help obscure what was otherwise a fairly strong defensive effort against a KenPom top-20 offense.

After a run of five straight poor defensive performances, Indiana has been much more dialed-in and impactful on that end of the floor.  In isolation it wasn’t perfect, but Indiana did enough on this end to win the game.

“I think we’ve played two of our hardest fought games in the last two road games defensively and guys are battling hard, Miller said.

“Our defense has come back the last three to four games. We did a good job of playing hard and smart.”

The 15 turnovers Purdue committed were their second most in a game since the calendar turn to 2021, and their 28.6 effort from behind the arc was five percentage points below Purdue’s season average.  IU held four of the Boilermakers’ guards — Eric Hunter, Isaiah Thompson, Sasha Stefanovic and Brandon Newman — to 13 points combined on 3 of 18 shooting.  They also held star big man Trevion Williams to just six points on only four field goal attempts as they both doubled him and recovered on shooters.

But of course it wasn’t a flawless effort.  And with the offense struggling mightily, it only took two players to change the dynamic of the game.  Indiana’s inability to stay in front of Jaden Ivey off the bounce, and difficulty preventing Zach Edey from getting touches at the rim collectively were enough to do in the Hoosiers.


MORE GAME COVERAGE


THE PLAYERS

Race Thompson (player of the game) — There were bright spots, but no one had a great game.  Rob Phinisee had four assists and no turnovers — but couldn’t make 3-pointers.  Jerome Hunter hit double figures for the third time in seven games and added two steals — but couldn’t make 3-pointers.  Jordan Geronimo gave great energy off the bench but only played nine minutes.

Race Thompson entered the week with a broken nose.  He had surgery after the Michigan State game to repair new damage and missed all of the practice going into the Purdue game as he recovered.  Then he sprained his ankle against Purdue, had it wrapped on the bench, and tried to play through that too.  Like the rest of his teammates, Thompson’s on the court performance was far from perfect.  But if anyone symbolizes the toughness and resolve needed to get this program over the hump one day, it is Thompson.

Player of the game tracker:  Jackson-Davis (9), Thompson (6), Durham (4), Phinisee (4), Franklin (3).

Player Notes:

Joey Brunk had back surgery and is out for the season.

Transfer Parker Stewart is also unlikely to appear this season.

Armaan Franklin is likely to be a game-time decision for the Big Ten Tournament.  He did not participate in warm-ups at Purdue.


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