IU Coach Archie Miller figured he should take some blame for his team missing out on a near-upset Sunday afternoon.
They battled against the No. 3 Purdue Boilermakers for 35 minutes at home, but in the closing minutes, the Hoosiers went cold and let a close game slip away. Sloppy offense and tired defense from IU allowed Purdue to pull out a 74-67 win. After the game, Miller had some regrets about IU’s crunch time possessions.
“You can put those maybe on me,” Miller said. “I should have had our guys maybe a little more organized in the last couple minutes, call a timeout and just make sure we get a shot.”
IU, which dropped to 12-10 overall and 5-5 in the Big Ten with the loss, used the home crowd and timely runs to lead for a majority of the afternoon, but Purdue’s balance and veterans wore down the Hoosiers by the end of the game.
Though IU trailed by just three points with one minute remaining, senior guard Robert Johnson missed a wild layup attempt and turned the ball over in the closing minutes while Purdue’s seniors calmly hit free throws to lock up the win. The Boilermakers ultimately finished the final four minutes of the game on a nine to three run.
“I think we just never got that one stop that we needed to try to make a run and get a four or five-point lead," Johnson said. "That’s what it comes down to in the end."
Seven-foot-two senior center Isaac Haas, who got rolling early for Purdue, played a career-high 30 minutes and also helped ice the game with two late layups.
Haas scored 14 of his game-high 26 points in the first half as IU tried to double-team him when he caught the ball in the post. The Hoosiers opened up a 14-4 lead to start the game, but Haas helped his team settle down and cut the Boilermakers’ halftime deficit to just 37-35.
In a game that turned into a battle in the paint, Purdue’s big man was almost always able to work his way out of the traps IU threw at him with a sharp pass or strong drive, which forced Miller to be flexible with his forwards.
As the second half progressed, IU senior forward Freddie McSwain Jr. helped his frontcourt partner, junior Juwan Morgan, defend Haas down low while also flashing his finishing ability on the other end.
Morgan led the Hoosiers with 24 points, but he also picked up four fouls. Morgan’s foul trouble and the absence of senior forward Collin Hartman due to injury made McSwain’s eight points in 16 minutes all the more valuable.
“He played strong, obviously I thought he battled,” Miller said of McSwain. “Undersized a little bit, but I thought he really competed.”
McSwain was on the court to guard Haas several times in the final minutes on Sunday, an opportunity he may see more of in the coming weeks. Miller said after the game that Hartman could miss an extended period of time after suffering a lower leg injury in practice.
With Hartman out, IU played a shorter rotation as only seven players saw double digit minutes. Johnson and Morgan, who combined for 45 points, each played 36 minutes.
Shorthanded and on short rest, IU will travel to play at No. 13 Ohio State on Tuesday night. It’ll be the second time in the past week that the Hoosiers will play on one day of rest. But Miller isn’t feeling sorry for his team; he just wants them to keep fighting.
“I think you're looking at a team that understands this type of competition level and what you have to do,” Miller said. “I don't think anybody left the arena tonight and said those guys didn't bring it. I thought we played really, really hard today, so that's the positive.”
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