Michael Durr scored just four points in the 68-65 win over the Purdue Boilermakers on Thursday but was undoubtedly an unsung hero of the game.
After playing just 23 minutes in the previous five games, the seven-foot center logged a season-high 24 minutes. The Hoosiers needed him for all of those minutes as preseason All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis was standing idly by on the bench in foul trouble.
Durr was assigned a daunting task but didn’t back down. He needed to contain not one, but two Top 25 Wooden Award forwards in Zach Edey and Trevion Williams. The senior helped hold the dynamic frontcourt duo to a combined 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting and five turnovers.
Edey had just three points in the second half. Williams was scoreless.
“I’m always ready to play, and I got the opportunity,” said Durr on Saturday.
“I defended and made things tough for their bigs. Both of Zach (Edey) and Trevion (Williams) are both good, and we watched a lot of film on them. And, I just wanted to make everything tough because they’re the horses of the team.”
Despite the height and length of the 7-foot-4 and 295 pound Edey, the seven-foot, 250-pound Durr used his strong frame to make his opponent feel uncomfortable. He did the same with Williams. The Hoosiers wanted to force Edey and Williams outside of the paint and away from their comfort zone.
“Honestly, it was making them catch the ball where it wouldn’t be easy. One, to make them catch the ball far away from the basket because we didn’t feel they were comfortable enough to make plays when they’re far away. So, we wanted to push them out,” he said of the game plan.
Offensively, Durr went 2-of-4 from the charity stripe and 1-of-2 with a mid-range jumper from the field for his four points. However, he made his presence felt with hard, tough screens, which was the goal on the other end.
“On offense, we wanted to put them (Edey and Williams) in a lot of ball screens because we wanted to make them guard. And, I just feel like we executed that game plan offensively, and defensively.”
Durr was a key factor. His defensive presence made it possible for the Hoosiers to keep the game close. When Jaden Ivey got hot in the second half with 19 points, he was there to stabilize the big men, limiting Purdue’s two-pronged attack. It all help lead to Rob Phinisee’s game-winning shot. And after the game, amongst the hectic scene was the South Florida transfer celebrating with the fans and his teammates.
“That was crazy. That was the biggest game that I’ve ever been apart of in my life,” Durr said of the game that will go down in Hoosier history. “That’s the first time I’ve ever been apart of that. It was fun. That was a memorable day, I will always remember that day in my life.”
Next up on the Hoosiers’ schedule is a struggling Michigan team (3:30 p.m. | CBS). The Wolverines stroll into Bloomington with an 8-7 record after being ranked No. 6 in the preseason. The lone bright spot has been center Hunter Dickinson.
The 7-foot-1 Dickinson leads Michigan in both scoring and rebounding with 16.4 points and 8.5 boards per game. In their latest outing, an 83-64 win over Maryland, he scored 21 points, grabbed six boards, and dished out six assists. He is a handful to handle.
Jackson-Davis should be back and in his usual star role. However, if he gets in foul trouble again, or is still having issues with his hip after taking a hard spill against Nebraska, Durr plans to be ready.
“I’m always excited for any matchup with any big that’s pretty good,” Durr said of his potential matchup with Dickinson.
The Hoosiers are also looking to continue the momentum after the huge win against Purdue. However, they are attempting to avoid a letdown. All the good feels would quickly fade away with a loss on Sunday.
That’s an experience IU already knows after suffering a loss to Iowa following big wins over then-No. 13 Ohio State and Minnesota.
“We don’t want to make that a continuous thing, getting big wins and then losing,” Durr said. “We just don’t want to do that, so we’re trying to stack games on top of each other and stay consistent.”
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