Indiana came into West Lafayette tonight with a chance to procure a third road win in the B1G Conference in five tries. That type of production on the road could have led to a special finish to the season given the amount of home games still to come in The Assembly Hall. Not only that, but it was a chance to seek revenge for a stinging 18 point loss in last season's only match-up with Purdue even if a lot of the current team wasn't around for that game.
The environment was as crazy as it gets in Mackey Arena to start and the Boilers fed off it taking a quick lead and one they wouldn't give back the rest of the half. The Boilers did exactly what I expected by putting A.J. Hammons or Isaac Haas on Troy Williams - who can't hit a jump shot and therefore is no threat outside of the paint. This allowed the paint to be protected and allowed Purdue to overplay the perimeter which limited the Hoosiers to 1-9 from three in the first half. Purdue took the lead into the half 38-27 and scored the majority of those points in the paint on a very undersized Hoosier team.
It was more of the same in the second half. The Boilers continued to get easy buckets in the lane and the Hoosiers continued to miss any type of shot. Kevin Yogi Ferrell did have a stretch in the half where it looked like he might single handedly get the Hoosiers back into the game, but that was quickly extinguished by the Boilers. Purdue would go on to win 83-67.
Indiana Post Game Thoughts
Indiana has to invent a new defensive strategy quickly - The Hoosier defense was pretty poor in the non-conference season but as the competition has increased - the defense has become downright dismal. Even in the games Indiana has won in conference play - they have given up high shooting percentages. It was no different tonight as Purdue shot 58.7% from the field which simply can't happen. When Hanner Mosquera-Perea returns, the story will likely be a little different - but even with him - Indiana has struggled to defend the rim area. Other teams are going to continue to pour it into the paint and Coach Crean is going to have to come up with something to negate that. If he doesn't, Indiana could be headed into a potential tailspin and that is going to send Hoosier Nation into a fever pitch.
Matt Painter's choice to leave Troy Williams open was brilliant - I'm surprised it has taken this long for a coach to decide to play off of Williams. I've always respected Painter's coaching ability though, so I'm not surprised he was the one to finally pull the trigger on it. Williams can't shoot the ball - and that is being kind about it. There is no reason to play defense on him outside of the paint area and if you have a big that can sit in the paint - he really isn't much of a factor in the paint either. As we have seen this season, as Troy Williams goes - Indiana goes. By limiting his ability, you gain a significant upper hand on the Hoosiers as you are able to overplay all of the other scoring options. I don't think there is much Indiana can do to solve this as you can't perfect a jump shot over night. Williams needs an entire summer in the gym and he doesn't have that luxury right now.
This loss is somewhat meaningless for the Hoosiers - Many on social media were melting down tonight as the Hoosiers never really competed. In all reality though - this game didn't mean a whole lot for Indiana. They already have two road wins with two more great opportunities at Rutgers and Northwestern late in the season. A 4-5 road record to go along with a 8-1 or possibly even 9-0 home record will get the Hoosiers comfortably into the NCAA Tournament. What was more concerning was the overarching issues of defense and effort tonight. Those issues have to be solved to win at home as well.
The Hoosiers return to the court on Saturday against Rutgers and that one will be in the friendly confines of The Assembly Hall.