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Tuesday, May 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

‘We got smacked’: No. 2 Purdue steamrolls Indiana men’s basketball, exposes lack of toughness

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After sending No. 2 Purdue senior center Zach Edey on another trip to the free throw line, Indiana men’s basketball head coach Mike Woodson buried his hands in his face and leaned back against the scorer’s table. 

Just when the Hoosiers started to seriously cut into what seemed like an insurmountable halftime lead of 22 points Tuesday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Edey and the Boilermakers delivered a series of counterpunches to deflate the once raucous crowd and put Indiana away for good. 

The result was an 87-66 defeat, the Hoosiers’ steepest margin of defeat to Purdue at home since 1934.

“We got smacked in the first half, and you’ve got to give them credit,” Woodson said. “I thought they were tougher. Yeah, there were a lot of fouls called against us, but they set the tone.” 

With two fouls assessed to freshman forward Mackenzie Mgbako and Kel’el Ware in the first half, Woodson opted to send the pair to the bench for nearly 12 minutes apiece. By the time Mgbako checked back in with 3:33 left in the period, Purdue had taken a 14-point lead. 

In the absence of Mgbako, who notched Indiana’s first 7 points of the contest, the Hoosiers were left devoid of a reliable 3-point threat. As Mgbako and Ware saw Indiana deteriorate at the hands of Edey, sophomore guard Fletcher Loyer and freshman guard Lance Jones, Indiana’s fate was quickly sealed. 

Woodson’s substitution decisions have been hotly debated, and after the Hoosiers’ loss to Rutgers on Jan. 9, he defended his choice to keep starters out for lengthy stretches. Tuesday night, though, Woodson regretted keeping Mgbako off the floor. 

“I probably should’ve played Mack, even with the two fouls, but I elected not to do that,” Woodson said. “But you know that’s hindsight. I hate coaching that way.” 

The Boilermakers, shooting a combined 81% from the free throw line on 27 attempts, held a striking advantage over the Hoosiers, who had just nine attempts and sank only four of them. For a team who runs its offense through the 7-foot-4 Edey, Purdue generates so much success from drawing fouls. 

Without a clear plan to move Edey off the low block, he feasted on Indiana’s defensive eagerness. Galloway called the fouls in the first half “dumb” and “unnecessary,” citing a need for the team to play not just hard but smart as well. 

Trailing 51-29 just before the halftime buzzer sounded, Galloway looked keen on hurling one final prayer to spark some momentum after a disastrous period. Much to Galloway’s chagrin, sophomore forward Malik Reneau failed to throw an inbounds pass, drawing visible frustration from Galloway and discernable boos from the Hoosier faithful. 

While Indiana’s 17-7 run in the first five minutes of the second half proved a brief testament to the team’s resilience, that faded as the half wore on. With a little under four minutes remaining in the game, a loose ball was slowly dribbling in the direction of Edey and Ware behind the 3-point line. 

Edey charged toward the ball, catapulting his colossal frame toward the floor to secure it and find a teammate. Conversely, Ware’s gingerly approach left him only able to reach his arms down and attempt to swipe the ball away. 

Ware lost that battle. Edey made an easy pass to Jones who converted a fast break layup on the other end, pushing the Boilermakers’ lead to 21. 

Participating in the fiercest rivalry in the state, Galloway said the team has to become tougher. 

“You’ve got to find ways to fight and be tough,” Galloway said. 

Last season, in Indiana’s regular season sweep of Purdue, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson offered a formidable defensive front court tandem. Add in the wizardly offensive play from Jalen Hood-Schifino, and the Hoosiers overcame a feat they hadn’t accomplished in nearly a decade. 

Now, Indiana experienced one of its worst home defeats to its archrival in program history. As the Hoosiers continue to try to answer questions about their offensive identity and defensive ability, they can’t afford to let toughness remain a concern. 

With a pair of road games on the horizon against No. 11 Wisconsin and No. 14 Illinois, Indiana’s mettle will be heavily tested. 

“Trayce and Race, they’re not here,” Woodson said. “I’ve got to get my two big guys a little tougher.” 

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season. 

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