WHAT HAPPENED: No. 1 Indiana waxed in-state rival Purdue again 83-55 in front of 17,472 at Assembly Hall to improve to 23-3 overall and 11-2 in the Big Ten, setting up a battle for first place in the Big Ten with Michigan State in East Lansing on Tuesday.
The victory gives the Hoosiers a 50-12 record in the last two seasons. Indiana coach Tom Crean was 28-66 in his first three years in Bloomington after he arrived following the Kelvin Sampson recruiting scandal, but the last two seasons have now brought him to 78-78 for his Indiana career, putting him at .500 for the first time since his first season.
The Hoosiers began the game with a 19-8 run and led by as many as 19 in the first half before taking a 41-29 lead at the break. A 10-2 run early in the second half gave them a 20-point lead a 12-0 run made it swell to 34 before late Purdue buckets cut it back under 30.
WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Indiana junior swingman Will Sheehey displayed in one game everything that makes him one of the best sixth men in college basketball. Classmate Victor Oladipo sprained his ankle near the end of the first half — Crean said he’s hopeful Oladipo can return for Tuesday’s game with Michigan State but not certain — and Sheehey had to take most of his minutes in the second half. Sheehey made the most of it, shooting 9-for-9 for a career high 22 points. No Indiana player had ever had a perfect shooting night with more than eight field goals. He hit a pair of 3-pointers, a pair of mid range jumpers and got to the rim in transition and off of the dribble, giving a complete offensive performance while also providing strong defense on both the perimeter and the post.
Sophomore center Cody Zeller nearly posted another double-double with 19 points and nine rebounds, he also had two assists, two blocks and a steal, and showed on more than one occasion that he’s the fastest center in college basketball.
Senior forward Christian Watford switched with Zeller on defense and took on center A.J. Hammons and held him to just six points in 21 minutes on 3-for-10 shooting. Watford also hit three 3-pointers and scored 14 points while registering four rebounds, two assists, two blocks and three steals.
Senior guard Jordan Hulls hit three 3-pointers and a pair of free throws for 11 points and also had five assists. Freshman point guard yogi Ferrell also had five assists with four points, six rebounds and two steals.
WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Indiana’s game plan started with their somewhat unconventional defense of Hammons. Watford drew the assignment, but Zeller was also part of the plan. The 7-foot Zeller guarded 6-5 Purdue guard Rapheal Davis, but sagged back off of him and drifted into the lane to provide help and also rim protection on Hammons. He lost Davis on the game’s first play, but after that, he used his length to make it difficult for him to drive and Davis never took a 3-pointer to try to force him to go further outside. Davis came into the game shooting 6-for-22 from beyond the arc this season, so that wasn’t much of a surprise.
Zeller also took on Hammons on occasion and Sheehey even drew the assignment at times, and Hammons never found anything resembling a rhythm. He didn’t score at all in the first half and was 0-for-6 before he scored his first points at the 13:33 mark in the second half. By that point, Indiana was up by 18.
Purdue junior guard Terone Johnson had 11 points and sophomore guard Anthony Johnson had 11, but no one else had more than seven and the Boilermakers shot just 37.5 percent (21-for-56) from the field.
They also gave the ball away 17 times and Indiana made sure they paid for that. The Hoosiers scored 25 points off turnovers, piled on 18 fast-break points and finished with 40 points in the paint. Thanks in large part to easy baskets and layups, they shot 55.6 percent from the field. They were solid from beyond the arc as well, though, hitting on eight of 19 attempts in a thoroughly impressive offensive outing.
WHAT DOES IT MEAN: That Crean reached .500 is a very significant milestone considering the rebuilding project he took on and the damage his winning percentage took after he volunteered to dig Indiana out from the crater left by Sampson. The reversal of fortune from 6-25, 10-21 and 12-20 to 27-9 and this year’s 23-3 mark is staggering and a testament to Crean’s work and unceasing positivity, and also that of his players.
This thrashing of Purdue is also significant. By a long shot, the Hoosiers’ 65-point combined margin of victory in the season sweep is the largest Indiana has had in a series. Symbolically, it shows an overwhelming shift of in-state basketball power from West Lafayette back to Bloomington. That’s certain to even out on some level because Purdue has good talent coming in its 2013 class and there is more talent in the 2012 class than it currently appears, but for now, the gap between IU and Purdue is canyon-esque.
Of course, the most tangibly important part of this victory is that it keeps Indiana in a tie for first place — presuming that Michigan State takes care of business against Nebraska — for first place in the Big Ten as the Hoosiers head to East Lansing on Tuesday another game that could be considered the conference game of the year.
WHO SAID WHAT:
“I thought our team was asked enough let down questions. The human dynamic can sometimes play into it, but not today, not at all. Not with the way they are maturing. Not with the way we feel about the rivalry with Purdue. It’s a big, big deal. They’re a great program. They have been for a long time. Matt (Painter) is not only one of the best coaches in the league, but one of the best coaches in the country. There is no doubt about it. When you play against them or coach against them, you’ve got to have a strategy for everything. You’ve got have a great mindset. Our guys did that.”
On Watford guarding Hammons
“The one thing we wanted to do was put him in a situation where we could get into his body a little bit better, change up how we defended him. He got a couple of buckets in the second half. We just wanted to be a little more aggressive. We wanted to be able and come off and help a little bit more with Cody. Christian really rose to the challenge. he can guard anybody. I’m glad that people are seeing that. he’s got a toughness to him. He can make shots. he can get to the rim. He can make foul shots, but he can really, really defend.
On Will Sheehey
“I had no idea that he had scored that many points. Usually, I am somewhat tuned inot that during the game. I usually ahve a fairly decent pulse of it, but today I didn’t. he was just so active. … He is so locked in to helping his teammates. He literally could run our walk-throughs on the mornings before games. We’ve got some others that could, too but that just showed how locked in he was. He’s got the edge, the personality, but he has completely bought into the fact that he is a quality starter guy coming off the bench and understands what the game is giving him when he goes in. He epitomizes a student of the game right now, when the game is going on. When he gets in there, he just plays. he is really maturing because of that, but he was all over the place. Again because he can guard so well, and he can guard so many different people, he is so active on defense and that activity carries over to offense.”
On reaching .500
“When you’re a younger coach and you look at those things, you do know what you’re averaging win wise for your program and things, but coming in here and dealing with what we dealt with, I got over personal goals really quick, because if I didn’t, I was gonna be depressed. I wasn’t looking for that. I have no trouble being driven and motivated by the fact that we had such tough times here early on. I do think to get it back there, it’s nice, but coming into Indiana, I gave up on all of those things, winning percentages and individual goals and willl you win x amount of games in this amount of time, and there was a time when I was interested in that. We had it going at Marquette. And if we would’ve stayed there, the odds are good we would’ve kept building those wins, but we didn’t, we chose to come here. When you get into it, you do it for what’s most important, which is making sure that you’re developing a program, getting it back where it needs to be and that every player continues to develop. In one sense, it’s nice, it says a lot about the fact that this group has won 50 games in the last year and a half, but when it comes to me personally, I gave up on that somewhere along the line in that first year it wasn’t going to be important any more in my career.”
On Oladipo’s injury
“I would say right now I would go between precautionary and day-to-day in the sense of just waiting and seeing. He did some things in the back. I just don’t think that any of us were comfortable enough to say, ‘Let’s go do it.’ He sprained his ankle, which you saw there. He wanted to go back in but we just weren’t going to do that at that point. I don’t think anyone thought medically that it was the best thing to do at that point. I hope he’s going to be OK, he thinks it’s going to be OK, but it’s gonna be a lot of time spent in that building getting it back where it needs to be.”
“I missed three free throws that were not very good. But besides that, I felt good, my teammates found me, I thought I played pretty good defense, and like I said last game, when you play good defense, your offense will come.”
Asked How Oladipo is:
“He’s fantastic. I’ve never seen him better.”
Asked what it was like at halftime when Victor was hurt
“I got excited, I got to play a little bit more. But nah, he’s fine.”
On being in a zone
“The guys who stay in a zone the longest are the best players. There’s definitely a zone. You see a couple of shots go through the hoop. Your confidence goes up a little bit. The guys who are the best are when you’re not shooting as well, you get back into a zone.”
On the shooting games that he, Victor Oladipo and Jordan Hulls play as Oladipo mentioned in a radio interview.
“I win them all. We always play and everyone thinks that Jordan is the better shooter, but realistically, I win them all. We play different types of shooting games and what not, see who can make the most in a row and what not, so that’s about it.
On whether he really wins them all.
“I win them all.”
On defending Hammons
“We tried to limit his touches and not let him get deep post-ups. My teammates did a great job of coming over and helping me if he did have me kind of buried in the post.”
On beating Purdue four straight
“It means a lot. The first two years it was tough, but anytime you can come back and win against your rival, especially the way we’ve been doing it, it feels pretty good.
On the defensive effort.
“That’s when we’re at our best. That’s a big emphasis for us, defense and getting out in transition and turning it into offense.”
On Watford defending Hammons
It was great. He defends me sometimes in practice, so he’s used to guarding big guys, so I knew he could do it. It kept me out of foul trouble. He did a nice job of that. I think he should do that every game now.”