Indiana Daily Student

IU can't handle Hammons, falls to Purdue

Junior guard Nick Zeisloft sits on the bench after he fouls out during the game against Purdue Wednesday night at Mackey Arena.
Junior guard Nick Zeisloft sits on the bench after he fouls out during the game against Purdue Wednesday night at Mackey Arena.

WEST LAFAYETTE Before an inbounds play in the second half, IU forward Emmitt Holt and Purdue center A.J. Hammons had tangled themselves underneath the Boilermakers’ basket, and a referee had to intervene. A gold-clad Purdue fan put it simply.

“Our guy’s the biggest guy,” he yelled. “Let him stand where he wants!”

It summed up the night. Purdue had the biggest guys, and it knew that. The Boilermakers got everything they wanted inside — offensively and defensively — on their way to an 83-67 blowout win.

Hammons led the way, scoring 11 points and blocking eight shots to control the paint for Purdue. The 7-foot junior’s mere presence caused issues for a guard-heavy ?IU team.

“It defies description, some of the drives we made on A.J,” IU Coach Tom Crean said.

His size and shot-blocking ability inside allowed Purdue to push its defense further toward the perimeter, which in turn shut down IU’s high-volume 3-point attack. That pressure held the Hoosiers to a season-low four made 3-pointers on 19 attempts — just 21 percent shooting.

IU shot just 38 percent from the field in the loss, well below its season mark of 48 percent. Crean said a lack of ball movement stifled his team’s ability to shoot, much as it did in a prior loss to Michigan State.

“Bottom line is, as simple as this sounds, we didn’t make the pass one dribble sooner,” Crean said. “One reason we’ve been shooting at such a high percentage is because we just simplify it. We didn’t do a good enough job of playing through the guys that needed to touch the ball more.”

Yogi Ferrell was the only Hoosier who matched his season-average. The junior guard scored a game-high 21 points and tallied three ?assists.

For much of the second half, Ferrell was the only Hoosier to create anything offensively. As IU fell further and further behind, it turned to a Ferrell-centric offense — he scored 15 points in the second half, often as four teammates stood and watched.

The same Purdue fan described Ferrell’s ?performance.

“What is he, 6-foot? 5-foot-11?” he asked after Ferrell slashed to the rim in the second half. “Scoring at will? Jeez.”

Freshman guard James Blackmon Jr. added 13 points, but continued to struggle from the field. He shot just 4-of-13 on the night, including 1-of-5 from 3-point range. Sophomore forward Troy Williams added eight points and tied for a game-high with six rebounds.

IU never led. The Hoosiers fell behind early, but an 8-0 Boilermaker run to start the second half stretched the deficit to 19 and all but put the game away — the lead remained in double digits for the entire second half.

The loss dropped IU to 15-6 on the season, 5-3 in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers have lost two of their three games since entering the national rankings Jan. 19.

Perhaps more importantly, IU fell to 88-114 all-time against Purdue. In a game that Boilermakers freshman Isaac Haas called the biggest of the year, the Hoosiers fell short.

In Purdue’s post-game press conference, guard Bryson Scott couldn’t stop smiling. He was asked why Wednesday’s win mattered so much to him.

He paused. Then he cracked a small smile.

“‘Cause it’s Indiana,” he said.

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