BLOOMINGTON — For most of Saturday afternoon, a crowd of 17,222 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall was rocking, with the return of Bob Knight, Isiah Thomas and most of the rest of the 1980 Indiana men’s basketball team.
But Indiana was unable to take advantage of the energy in the building in a numbing 74-62 loss to rival Purdue that served as another blow to its NCAA Tournament hopes.
The fading Hoosiers (15-8, 5-7 Big Ten) lost their fourth straight overall and their sixth straight to the rival Boilermakers.
Afterward, IU coach Archie Miller took accountability for his team’s uneven performance. Purdue won the game in part by scoring 17 points off 14 IU turnovers and by shooting 50 percent (8-of-16) from 3-point range.
“I’m disappointed for our players,” Miller said. “I’m disappointed for our fans. I’m disappointed for everyone that came back for the reunion. And I’ll take full responsibility on the loss today.”
The game turned late in the first half, when, with Indiana up 28-25, Purdue closed with a 12-0 run to take a 37-28 halftime lead. It didn’t get much better in the second half for the Hoosiers, who found themselves trailing by as many as 16 points before mounting a brief comeback.
IU cut Purdue’s lead to 56-50 on a driving layup by forward Justin Smith with 9:03 left. But Purdue regained control during a 9-0 scoring run, going ahead 65-50 on a pair of Sasha Stefanovic buckets with 4:02 left.
The lowlights during the stretch included Smith being whistled for two offensive fouls and Armaan Franklin and Jerome Hunter going a combined 0-for-3 from 3-point range. As a team, the Hoosiers again struggled putting the ball in the basket, shooting 43.1 percent from the floor and 33.3 percent from 3-point range.
“We’ve got confidence to make those types of shots,” Indiana freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said. “They just didn’t fall.”
Jackson-Davis led IU with 16 points and eight rebounds, but the Hoosiers were outrebounded for the second straight game, by a 29-28 margin. Although IU outscored Purdue 12-7 in second-chance points, there were some critical baskets by Purdue off offensive rebounds in the second half that had Miller frustrated.
“We’re not rebounding at all right now,” Miller said. “Offensive rebounding is nonexistent. And then tough ones down the stretch. You can just — I think (Evan) Boudreaux may have had two in a row, long ones. It just kills you, man …
“If you just say, ‘Hey, how do you get better?’ Rebound the ball better, and take care of it. We’re a better team. That’s what it’s going to come down to.”
Purdue (14-10, 7-6) carried over its hot shooting game against Iowa (19-of-34 55.9 percent from 3-point range) into its matchup with the Hoosiers. Sophomore point guard Eric Hunter scored 3-pointers on Purdue’s first two baskets and finished with 12 points. Sophomore forward Aaron Wheeler, who entered the game shooting 21.8 percent from 3-point range, made three first half 3-pointers and added 11 points.
“We kept our composure at times,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said. “More than anything, I thought we had really good balance. Everybody that played contributed. They might not have played great, but they were good.”
Purdue entered the matchup shooting just 26.1 percent from 3-point range on the road, and Jackson-Davis said the game plan was to dig down on the post and defend sophomore forward Trevion Williams, who entered scoring a team-high 13.5 points per game.
“We were kind of crowding and digging deep, especially on Trevion Williams, because I think he accounted for 20 percent of their shots,” Jackson-Davis said. “We tried to take him out of the play, and it kind of left some shooters open.”
Miller said IU needs to regroup quickly, with No. 17 Iowa coming to Assembly Hall on Thursday. It serves as a chance for the Hoosiers to get another statement win and hopes for an NCAA Tournament berth back on track.
“You’re only as good as the next one,” Miller said. “Today, as disappointing as it is, you have to find a way to be about the right things over the course of the next three, four days, to give yourselves a chance to play against another great team. And one way or another, you have to earn the right to break through. And we’re at home again on Thursday. We’ve got to find a way to do that.”