College football and college basketball writer
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Three Purdue fans made their way to Mackey Arena shortly after 6 p.m. Saturday, roughly 90 minutes before the tip-off between No. 17 Indiana and the fifth-ranked Boilermakers. As they approached a crossroads, one of the men received a phone call from a friend asking where to find them. “Let’s go to the stadium,” said the man, “the bars are too full.”
All of West Lafayette hummed with anticipation before the first meeting at Mackey Arena, with both rivals ranked in the top 25 since 1999. Purdue had beaten the Hoosiers in seven straight at home and was itching for a chance to avenge a loss from the beginning of February to Simon Skjodt. Event’s Hall. The student sections at each end of the building were filled to the rafters more than an hour early, and the Boilermakers extended their hitting streak to 66.
But their roars grew quieter and quieter over the course of a two-hour bout with frustration. Purdue’s narrow halftime lead evaporated just minutes after the second half whistle, and that turned out to be the only lead change in a game Indiana deserved to win. An unusually tepid performance for Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Trayce Jackson-Davis (10 points) was offset by a terrific performance from freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino, whose career-high 35 points race outplayed everyone in a resounding 79-71 victory that boosted. Indiana toward the top of the league standings.
Men’s College Basketball National Player of the Year candidate Zach Edey scored 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, but didn’t have the support of his teammates to prevent the Boilermakers from suffering a fourth loss in their last six games. Fletcher Loyer (14 points) was the only other player in double figures as Purdue missed 12 of 15 3-pointers in the second half and shot just 34.9 percent from the field overall.
A five-star freshman heats up
It’s interesting to imagine how Indiana coach Mike Woodson would have reacted if he had been told the following before the game: It would be nearly 10 minutes before Jackson-Davis attempted his first field goal; More than 13 minutes passed before Jackson-Davis drew his first post-up on the low block; the first half would end with Jackson-Davis still looking for his first points on 0-3 shooting.
The player who scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots in Indiana’s thrilling win over then-No. 1 Purdue in early February was neutralized by a defensive strategy the Boilermakers know intimately given the number of teams that have deployed it against Edey this season. Purdue coach Matt Painter asked his guards and wings to double Jackson-Davis in the post whenever possible, ripping and bumping the ball to clog passing lanes and look for potential steals. When guard Brandon Newman scooped up Jackson-Davis’ loose ball on the right block, Purdue turned it into points on the other end when guard Braden Smith grabbed the rebound of a missed 3-pointer and quickly threw it to home
With Jackson-Davis covered, the scoring burden fell to Hood-Schifino, a former five-star prospect whose importance to the Hoosiers has skyrocketed following a long-term injury to starting point guard Xavier Johnson. Hood-Schifino tormented the 66th straight crowd at Mackey Arena with a dazzling 23-point first-half outburst to keep Indiana afloat. Combining a muscular 6-foot-6 frame with the poise of much larger players, Hood-Schifino repeatedly drove defenders to his favorite spots on the floor — the right elbow and right side of the paint — for a variety of of pull-ups. jumpers, floaters, slants and layups that oozed the confidence of a potential NBA lottery pick.
Highlights: Jalen Hood-Schifino burns Purdue
Indiana’s Jalen Hood-Schifino had a game-high 35 points in Saturday’s win.
Earlier this season, Hood-Schifino scored 33 points against Northwestern for the most scoring by an UI freshman since Eric Gordon in 2007, a mark he improved on in the clutch after clutch hit in the second half. He entered Saturday’s game third in the Big Ten in scoring (12.8 PPG), second in assists (four per game) and fourth in rebounding (four per game) and now, after leading the Hoosiers to a sweep season over Purdue, it seems like a no-brainer. option for the first year of the league.
Find a supporting cast
The Hoosiers erased a 38-34 halftime deficit before the first media timeout as role players Trey Galloway (7.1 PPG) and Miller Kopp (8.0 PPG) caught fire from the floor spot: left corner directly in front of the Indiana bench.
Galloway’s modest scoring average belies a highly efficient approach to scoring. He came into Mackey Arena shooting 51.2 percent from the field and 50 percent from 3-point range, then improved those numbers through the first 30 minutes of Saturday’s game. At the 1:56 mark, Galloway (13 points) made a layup between two 3-pointers from the left corner to give the Hoosiers their first lead. Painter called timeout after Kopp (13 points) added a third 3-pointer from the left corner and power forward Race Thompson punched home a dunk to extend Indiana’s lead to 51 -42.
There was more and more pressure on Edey’s shoulders as Purdue’s supporting cast struggled to keep pace, an increasingly common theme during a turbulent stretch in which the Boilermakers have lost four of their last six to the tournament game close. It’s a story that applies most easily to freshman guards Smith and Loyer, two players whose production has faltered since Purdue’s season opener. The backcourt duo entered the weekend averaging a combined 22.5 points and shooting 37.6 percent from beyond the arc in their team’s 24 wins, but those numbers dipped in slashed to 17.3 points per game and 24% from 3-point range.
The trend continued against the Hoosiers. Loyer, who made multiple 3-pointers in 12 of Purdue’s first 17 games, finished 2-for-5 from beyond the arc but shot 33 percent from the field in a modest effort. Smith missed five of six attempts from 3-point range and shot 33.3 percent from the field despite averaging double figures.
Michael Cohen covers college football and basketball for FOX Sports with an emphasis on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.
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