WEST LAFAYETTE — Indiana men’s basketball head coach Mike Woodson flailed his arms in frustration and immediately motioned for senior guard Trey Galloway on the bench.
Moments before, with less than six minutes left in the first half of the Hoosiers’ 79-59 loss to No. 2 Purdue on Saturday night, freshman guard Gabe Cupps telegraphed a pass to freshman forward Mackenzie Mgbako.
Purdue sophomore guard Braden Smith read it the entire way, swiping Cupps’ pass with ease and turning it into a transition 3-pointer on the other end. The triple kickstarted a 12-1 run for the Boilermakers and one that would ultimately snowball into Indiana’s second defeat of 20 or more points to Purdue this season.
“We gotta take care of the ball on the road,” Galloway said after the game. “There’s very little room for error.”
Down 66-41 in the second half, the Hoosiers’ fate had long been sealed. Still, it wasn’t complete without one distinct exclamation point. Purdue 7-foot-4 senior center Zach Edey — one of the top players in the nation — had never made a 3-pointer in his collegiate career.
That was until Saturday night.
At the top of the key, relatively uncontested, Edey popped a high arching shot that banked off the glass and fell through the hoop. The black and gold-clad Purdue fans launched from raucous to unhinged.
The praise for Edey quickly morphed into chants of “IU sucks” and “NIT.” In Purdue’s student section, fans also sported signs that read monikers like “Loosiers.” Just a season ago, the Hoosiers swept the rivalry series behind masterful play from Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino.
In last year’s clash at Mackey Arena, Hood-Schifino arguably cemented his status as a one-and-done prospect, notching 35 points in a brilliant individual showing. But Saturday night, Indiana received no standout performances.
Sophomore forward Malik Reneau — the Hoosiers’ leading scorer on the season — logged just 6 points on 3-of-11 shooting. Reneau picked up a trio of fouls less than three minutes into the second half and fouled out with just over seven minutes left in the contest.
“I thought Malik tonight, he just wasn’t Malik,” Woodson said. “(Purdue) had a lot to do with that from a defensive standpoint. He was trying to do it himself and just looked out of character.”
Just four days after mounting a second-half comeback to topple Ohio State on the road, Indiana conversely crumbled after the break against the Boilermakers. On the very first play of the second period, Galloway coughed up a turnover and Purdue turned it into a quick bucket.
The Hoosiers’ 12 combined turnovers aren’t necessarily a glaring mark — the team averages exactly 12 per game this season — but were highly inopportune. Cupps’ blunder and Galloway’s early second-half turnover both gave way to considerable, momentum-shifting runs.
Galloway said his turnover, one of three on the night for the Culver, IN, native, represented a turn in mindset.
“I’d say just lost our intensity and our focus,” Galloway said. “I had a bad turnover to start the half, and it kind of just spiraled down the line with all of us.”
Galloway and sophomore center Kel’el Ware — who scored 11 points and corralled eight boards in 29 minutes — each opted for positivity following the rout. They each cited the seven remaining games on the schedule as an opportunity for growth.
Woodson also shared a hopeful sentiment, pointing to the early stretches of the game as evidence Indiana displayed a semblance of competitiveness. In the end, though, Edey’s 26-point effort and Smith’s 19 were too much to overcome.
The Hoosiers were outrebounded 15-5 on the offensive glass and 46-31 overall. They shot 25% from beyond the arc, an area Ware said needs to be improved. All the problems that plagued the Hoosiers throughout the season have persisted.
On the other bench, Purdue head coach Matt Painter stood at the helm of a juggernaut with Final Four hopes. For Woodson, that offered a stark contrast.
“They have grown together, we revamped our team this summer,” Woodson said. “I’m not using that as an excuse, I still expect to win, but it’s kind of caught us a little bit.”