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Saturday, March 2
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Indiana men’s basketball’s poor adjustments stress inconsistencies in loss at No. 2 Purdue

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WEST LAFAYETTE — Indiana men’s basketball was fresh off an 18-point second-half comeback on the road against Ohio State on Tuesday in which it made the proper corrections to overcome the deficit and win the game. Facing a 12-point halftime deficit at No. 2 Purdue on Saturday night, the Hoosiers had an opportunity to replicate their earlier win and earn a significant victory. 

Instead, the Boilermakers stormed out of halftime with a 10-0 run to create a 22-point margin which Indiana never threatened in a 79-59 loss. Indiana’s lack of adjustments and poor start to the latter half created the insurmountable lead, and it emphasized the Hoosiers’ inconsistent play and the problem that persists. 

“We were so awful coming out in the second half, we couldn’t make shots and they capitalized on it,” Indiana head coach Mike Woodson said postgame. 

The Hoosiers did just about everything they could’ve asked for in the first half defensively. They held the Boilermakers — the Big Ten’s best 3-point shooting team at 40.4% entering Saturday — to an inefficient 3-for-13 from deep and forced six turnovers. Indiana’s only glaring mishap was allowing sophomore guard Braden Smith to pick the Hoosiers apart on pick-and-roll drives for 15 points in the first 20 minutes. 

Purdue junior center Zach Edey is the centerpiece of the Boilermakers’ offense and proved it in the rivals’ first matchup when he produced 33 points and 14 rebounds in Bloomington. He had 12 points and eight rebounds in the first frame Saturday night, and with Purdue struggling from deep, the Hoosiers identified their defensive game plan. 

“Go out and be physical with them, don’t let the perimeter players get their shots off and try to stop them,” sophomore center Kel’el Ware said. 

Indiana fulfilled part of its plan but did so too much. The Hoosiers committed five fouls in the first three minutes of the second half, and three of them were against sophomore forward Malik Reneau to merit his fourth infraction and a seat on the bench. Reneau — Indiana's leading scorer this season — returned with nine minutes remaining but fouled out two minutes later. 

First Indiana allowed more opportunities at the free throw line, then disregarded defending the 3-point line and Purdue took advantage. From that point, Indiana’s performance snowballed in front of a raucous Mackey Arena crowd. 

Rather than build off its positive areas from the first half, Indiana regressed in its categories of focus. When Edey banked in his first-ever 3-pointer to give Purdue a game-high 28-point lead with 6:35 remaining, the Hoosiers submerged to what felt like a new low. 

“You can’t dig yourself a hole like we did, because you’re not gonna come back,” senior guard Trey Galloway said. “You’ve got to be on point from the get-go and last that for 40 minutes, and we didn’t.” 

Albeit an uptick in the quality of the opponent, Indiana’s performance at Purdue exemplified none of the qualities it did in the Hoosiers’ comeback win at Ohio State just days prior. Inconsistent play in all levels of the game prevented Indiana from finding any kind of rhythm across games, and Saturday night was another roadblock. 

“We’ve just got to continue to grow as a team,” Woodson said. “We still have seven games to go, and anything can happen.” 

The Hoosiers are running out of time to realize the growth Woodson desires. More than two-thirds of the way through the season, opportunities are becoming slim, and Indiana’s accomplishments are far from NCAA Tournament-quality. The Hoosiers sat 98th in the NET rankings entering Saturday night and their 20-point loss will only drop them further. 

Next up on Indiana’s slate is a must-win home matchup against Northwestern. Tipoff is scheduled for 3 p.m, Feb. 18 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, and the game can be watched on FS1.  

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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