Let’s face it, there is a massive gap between Indiana and the elite college basketball teams in 2024. Yet again, that fact was on full display Saturday evening in West Lafayette.
IU was hanging around, down just 20-18 with 8:23 left in the first half. But Purdue went on a 15-1 run, and for all practical intents and purposes, the game was over right there. The Hoosiers cut the margin to 12 at halftime, but a 10-0 Boilermakers run to start the second half put the game out of reach.
Let’s take a deeper look at how IU lost 79-59 with another edition of The Report Card.
Indiana (14-10, 6-7) will host Northwestern a week from Sunday.
How did something that started so good turn out so bad?
Indiana scored points on five of their first six possessions. The ball was moving, the floor was spaced, and shots were made.
“Our movement and our pace (was good early), we got off to a good start I thought,” IU guard Trey Galloway said. “And that didn’t last very long.”
No it did not.
Purdue was effective limiting Malik Reneau, and the benching of Kel’el Ware with two fouls meant neither of the IU big men had a major role. They combined to make just 5-of-12 shots in the first half. IU coach Mike Woodson made the questionable decision to sit the 7-foot Ware, and with him on the bench, IU went more than seven minutes without a field goal towards the end of the first half.
The Hoosiers missed their first seven threes and were just 4-of-16 from long range on the night, and they made just 9-of-15 free throws.
From the 9:26 mark of the first half to 15:50 of the second — more than 13 minutes, IU scored just nine points.
In the end IU scored just .86 points per possession, which ties for their second worst outing of the season. And second chances were limited. They grabbed a season low 13.9 percent of their misses.
There are a lot of numbers that suggest this game should have been closer. Purdue’s Fletcher Loyer and Lance Jones came in averaging a combined 22 points and scored only 12. The Boilermakers shot just 42.4 percent from the field. They started the game just 3-of-13 from three, and yes IU was fortunate that some of those early open looks didn’t fall.
For much of the game, the defense was not the problem. But as Indiana’s offense sputtered, the pressure to get stops mounted on the other end. And eventually the dam broke. Purdue scored the first 10 points of the second half to build a 22-point lead, and then they made four straight three-point attempts, and the wheels came off.
Purdue scored 1.15 points per possession. That’s generally not very good, but the Boilers have scored more in 15 games this year. IU was not able to force enough turnovers to take them out of their rhythm and generate opportunities going the other way — the Hoosiers got just four fast break points.
And the Boilermakers secured 36.6 percent of their misses (15 offensive rebounds, 12 second chance points).
MORE GAME COVERAGE
*Trey Galloway (C+) Galloway was back in the mode of doing a lot of good things, but his perimeter shot wasn’t falling. That almost has seemed to become the keystone of games this season. He didn’t start out on Braden Smith but helped to slow him down scoring wise in the second half.
*Mackenzie Mgbako (C) For just the second time in 13 games, Mgbako was held without a 3-pointer. And he had only one rebound in 32 minutes. He did avoid fouls, seemed more connected defensively, and was efficient inside the arc.
*Malik Reneau (D) Purdue was able to take away Malik Reneau for the second time this season. He had a season-low six points if you don’t include the Iowa game he left early with an injury. He didn’t handle double-teams well and forced the issue. That led to a 3-of-11 shooting night and three turnovers. And he fouled out in just 23 minutes.
*Kel’el Ware (B) Wouldn’t you know it, Ware never even picked up a third foul after being benched for 11 minutes in the first half. The sophomore center was solid on dives to the rim and made a three. Zach Edey made just 6-of-14 from two, as Ware was able to disrupt him with his length at times.
*Gabe Cupps (D) This was a stage Cupps did not appear ready for on either end. He had an especially rough stretch in the first half when he got beat on three straight Braden Smith drives for layups.
Anthony Leal (C) Leal rebounded but was unable to make a splash like he’s done in IU’s last two wins.
C.J. Gunn (C+) You don’t want to make too much of his 13 points considering he didn’t score until IU was down 21. But if this is a catalyst for improved shooting, that will end up being the more important fact here.
Anthony Walker (C+) Walker had good energy and made positive contributions. He got both a block and a steal while contending with Edey.
Payton Sparks (D) Sparks was obviously plugged into a tough spot trying to guard Edey. He has a bad habit of forcing shots on his post touches.
Kaleb Banks did not play, coach’s decision.
Xavier Johnson (elbow) was out. Jakai Newton (knee) is out long-term.
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