Indiana men’s basketball snapped its nine-game losing streak against No. 4 Purdue on Thursday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall with a 68-65 win. The fans stormed the court in celebration, and senior guard Rob Phinisee was hoisted up by his teammates after a team-leading 20-point performance.
The Hoosiers moved to 14-4 overall and 12-0 on their home court this season with the win, and head coach Mike Woodson bested their in-state rivals in his first game against them since taking over.
“I didn't dribble one ball or make one shot, man, it was those guys in that locker room that got it done,” Woodson said at the postgame press conference. “I couldn't be more proud of a team, boy. They played their hearts out tonight.”
Led by Phinisee, Indiana’s bench scored 35 of the team’s 68 points. Phinisee scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half, but knocked down the go-ahead basket with 16.9 seconds left in the game for his only points of the second half. He also totaled four rebounds, four steals and shot 4-7 from 3-point range.
While Phinisee starred, senior center Michael Durr also stepped up and played 24 minutes, the most he’s played all season. He helped shut down Purdue’s big man duo of sophomore center Zach Eady and senior forward Trevion Williams.
“He hasn't really been playing that much, we have Trayce Jackson-Davis,” Phinisee said about Durr. “Just his energy and leadership, he brings to the table is really big for us.”
Eady and Williams came into the game averaging a combined 29 points and 16 rebounds, but thanks in part to Durr’s defense, they combined 14 points on 6-10 shooting. The duo also turned the ball over five times and combined for 2-9 shooting from the free throw line. Durr totaled 4 points, two steals and two blocks in 24 minutes, and Indiana’s bench outscored its starters 35-33.
Before the game, senior guard Xavier Johnson told Durr it was going to be his day and said Durr came ready to play.
“Coach told him that he was going to go to him and be ready,” Johnson said. “For a player not to play as much as he has been in the past and to come out here and compete with those
guys and a top-five team in the nation, it shows a lot.”
Durr played big minutes not only to match Purdue’s size, but also to replace Indiana’s leading scorer, junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who played just 11 minutes after spending most of the game in foul trouble. Jackson-Davis only scored 4 points, but 2 of them were a pair of free throws to extend Indiana’s lead from 1 to 3 points with five seconds left to play.
Purdue sophomore guard Jaden Ivey, who scored 19 of his game-high 21 points in the second half, took a 3-pointer as the buzzer sounded that would have sent the game to overtime, but it rattled out and gave Indiana the win.
Johnson also stepped up for Indiana by totaling 18 points, four rebounds and two assists. Johnson outscored the rest of Indiana’s starters 18-15, and the duo of Phinisee and Johnson accounted for 56% of the team’s scoring production after scoring 0 and 9 points, respectively, in the team’s last win at Nebraska on Monday.
Thanks in part to good ball control from Johnson and Phinisee, who both finished the game with zero turnovers, the Hoosiers finished with a season-low three turnovers in the game while forcing the Boilermakers into 12.
Woodson said he and Phinisee had a “beautiful conversation” hours before the game and said he responded to it in the game.
“Basketball Gods were looking down upon us because I thought after our conversation, he responded, man,” Woodson said. “It's nice to see. When you got a coach/player relationship with these guys, sometimes you've got to have a man-to-man talk.”
Indiana will face Purdue again in its regular-season finale March 5 in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue will likely still be near the top of college basketball’s ranks when the teams rematch, and the next time they see each other, Purdue will be seeking revenge after dropping its win streak against Indiana.
Indiana will look to carry the momentum it gained and its 5-3 record in the Big Ten into its next matchup with Michigan at 3:30 p.m. Sunday in Bloomington. Michigan is 8-7 this season and 2-3 in the Big Ten, but it's coming off an 83-64 win against Maryland in its last game.