BOZICH | Purdue shows Indiana the value of size - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Purdue shows Indiana the value of size

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Isaac Haas, a 7-2 Purdue freshman, scored 12 points in 12 minutes as the Boilermakers won at Indiana. Isaac Haas, a 7-2 Purdue freshman, scored 12 points in 12 minutes as the Boilermakers won at Indiana.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) – At its most basic level, basketball is a game of simple mathematics.

Seven feet is better than six-nine. It's certainly better than 6-6. And it's difficult to explain how much better it is than 6-4.

Mathematics is a strength of the Purdue University curriculum. Matt Painter, the Boilermakers' coach, understood (and exploited) every inch of that truth as his team rallied to defeat Indiana, 67-63, Thursday night in Assembly Hall.

A.J. Hammons is 7 feet tall. He is Purdue's powerful junior center. Painter told his guards to throw Hammons the ball because the players defending Hammons were A) 6-9 (Hanner Mosquera-Perea); B) 6-6 (Collin Hartman) or C) 6-4 (Stanford Robinson).

They did. The Hoosiers had no answer. Hammons scored 20 points. Most of them were inches from the rim. Hammons took nine shots. He made eight.

Isaac Haas, Purdue's back-up center, is also mammoth, two inches taller than Hammons. Guess what Painter told his guards? Throw Haas the ball.

They did. And the Hoosiers had no answer. Haas scored a dozen points. He made only three of eight shots, but converted all six of his free throws. There was some good fortune there because Haas usually makes only half of those shots. Haas punished IU on the backboards, muscling his way to nine boards, six on the offensive glass.

“When the shots went up, guys weren't blocking out,” said IU guard James Blackmon Jr. “They got a couple of rebounds. That's what got them going from the beginning.”

“We gave up too many points in the post and it wasn't just the post-ups,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “It was the rebounding. We did not rebound the way that we needed to. It's one thing to give up the points, but we've got to get some defensive boards.

“It's not the points to me as much as it was their second shots because that's such a high percentage shot.”

The rebound totals? As cold and one-sided as the weather forecasts this week. Purdue was plus-17, grabbing 14 on the offensive glass. Mosquera-Perea, Hartman and Emmitt Holt, Indiana's freshman forward, contributed two rebounds in 38 minutes.

Indiana's confidence level driving the ball to the basket? It disappeared.

“It does make it hard for us to go down and finish around the rim when they have two seven-footers,” said Yogi Ferrell, Indiana's junior point guard.

That's a flaw in this Indiana team, but it has often been a flaw the Hoosiers have been able to overcome with three-point shooting.

Indiana is a team that must make jump shots to survive. Four days ago in the same building the Hoosiers made those jump shots, converting 18 of 32 threes while dusting Minnesota.

Against Purdue, Indiana went 23 minutes without a three-pointer. The Hoosiers did not have any field goals from distance in the second half until Blackmon scored from the left corner with about three minutes to play.

The Hoosiers finished 5 for 16 from distance. That is the second time Purdue has defended Indiana as if their iPhones depended upon it. IU made only four of 19 threes when they lost at Purdue, 83-67, last month.

“We missed a lot of the shots,” Crean said. “They looked down. They were right there. It would be one thing if they were all challenged. Unfortunately for us they were open.”

Trailing by two with 15.7 seconds to play, Indiana had its opportunity. In fact, the Hoosiers got the basketball to their best player, point guard Yogi Ferrell. He tried a three-point shot. The shot did not go in – just as it did not go in a week ago when Indiana lost at Maryland.

“That was a bad shot, that's what it was,” Ferrell said.

Bad? Why use that word?

“Time and score,” Ferrell said. “Down two. Had lots of time left on the clock. Maybe should have pulled it out. Just try to go into the flow of the game.”

Ferrell led Indiana with 21. Blackmon and Troy Williams had 14. But IU's bench was outscored, 17-2.

With the loss, Indiana slipped to 8-6 in the Big Ten and 18-9 overall. The Hoosiers likely need to win at least two of their final four regular-season games to secure a spot in the NCAA Tournament. They play Sunday at Rutgers.

Beware of Purdue. The Boilermakers are 10-4 in the league, trailing only Wisconsin in the conference standings.

Normally a team with that record in the Big Ten would have nothing to sweat on Selection Sunday. Purdue, also 18-9, is a strange case. The Boilermakers lost home games to North Florida and Gardner-Webb. They were blitzed by 31 by Notre Dame on a neutral court.

But the Boilermakers are an NCAA Tournament team. They defend like crazy. They share the basketball. And they have two capable seven footers.

Ask Indiana.

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