The Indiana Hoosiers held the Purdue Boilermakers, the Big Ten’s best three-point shooting team, to just 28.6% from behind the arc. The Hoosiers grabbed the same number of rebounds (35 each) and even kept the turnovers fairly close (14 to 12).
Yet despite all that, the Hoosiers again failed to gain another resume-building win as they lost to Purdue 69-64 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday night.
The main cause for the loss was an unproductive offense. The usually potent IU offense struggled as Indiana shot 38.6% from the floor and 33.3% from behind the arc. In fact it’s not just this game as Indiana (averaging 81.3 points per game on the season) has averaged just 69.8 points over the last five games. When you take into account that one of those games was a triple overtime game where the Hoosiers scored 110 points against Penn State, those scoring numbers look even worse (for reference, the Hoosiers have averaged 59.8 points in the other four games)
It’s no secret that the “injury bug” has bitten the Hoosiers hard this year, but this game more than any of the last five games showed how short-handed the Hoosiers are at the moment.
- Despite getting James Blackmon Jr. back from a leg injury, Blackmon very rarely looked like himself as he struggled with his shot all night, finishing 3 of 14 from the floor including 1 of 7 from deep.
- Juwan Morgan, who’s playing while still injured, started strong but got into foul trouble and didn’t score after halftime.
- Devonte Green, who had been playing well replacing Blackmon in the starting lineup, was limited to five minutes due to getting a back spasm lifting weights earlier in the week.
- On top of all that, De’Ron Davis took a shot to the face early in the second half and missed the rest of the game.
Perhaps Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter explained it best as to why injuries really played a huge role in Indiana’s loss.
“You have to understand that Indiana doesn’t have a lot of their guys,” said Painter. “Collin Hartman is a good player, he affects winning and OG (Anunoby) is a really good player, so now when they get into foul trouble (like they did tonight) it’s not normal foul trouble, now it’s two guys are out, one just came back from injury and then you have a couple of guys in foul trouble.”
The one shining light, and the reason Indiana had a chance of actually winning the game was Thomas Bryant.
After being held in check in the first half due to foul trouble, Bryant singlehandedly carried the Hoosiers in the second half, scoring 17 of the Hoosiers’ 28 second half points. He finished with 23 points on 8 of 12 shooting, 3 of 4 from three-point range. Over the last five games, Bryant has averaged 20.2 points on an eye-popping 68.4% (39 of 57) shooting.
So when the controversial “blarge” was called with 44 seconds left (What’s a blarge? Well one referee called a blocking foul while the other called a charging foul, so the refs copped out and called a double foul. It’s okay if that definition just confuses you more because honestly it confuses me too.), Indiana’s fate was sealed as Thomas Bryant picked up his fifth foul.
If Bryant can keep up this level of production and can get some help from his teammates that are either not 100% yet (Blackmon, Morgan) or are wildly inconsistent as of late (Josh Newkirk, Rob Johnson), then the Hoosiers can still make the NCAA Tournament. But with six games left in the regular season, time is starting to run out.