[Postgame 3-2-1] What We Learned From Indiana's Second Blowout Loss to Purdue
Here are three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana's 79-59 loss in West Lafayette.
For the first time in 707 days, Indiana lost to Purdue in West Lafayette.
The Hoosiers were dominated from about the midway part of the first half on last night at Mackey Arena, and there was very little fight from a ball club that continues to have massive ebbs and flows in its play.
Things looked okay early. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Indiana actually held a one-point advantage at the first media timeout of the evening and the Hoosiers played well early.
But after that, Mike Woodson’s team disappeared, and the Boilermakers took over on the back of a masterful 19-point performance from Brayden Smith.
“Tonight was just not our tonight,” Woodson said of the blowout loss. “You have to give Purdue credit. They’re a damn good team.”
Following the loss, Indiana drops to 14-10 and 6-7 in Big Ten play.
Now here are three stats, two observations, and one lingering question on my mind while trying to come down from the excitement of that comeback win.
Did you miss yesterday's edition of the postgame show?
The Assembly Call is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
3 Meaningful Stats
1. CJ Gunn had 13 second-half points.
It is tough to find positive stats after a game like last night, but CJ had a fantastic second half last night at Mackey.
“I told him after the game in the locker room that I was proud of him,” Woodson said of the Lawrence North graduate postgame.
Gunn led Indiana in scoring with 13 points on 4-6 shooting, including an impressive 3-4 from deep.
CJ Gunn’s evolution will be something worth watching in the final month of season.
He has been unable to score double digits in consecutive games in his career, but with a good week of practice leading up to the Northwestern game next Sunday, CJ has an opportunity to stay hot.
Gunn can use these final seven games to earn his role on next year’s roster.
2. Purdue had 13 points of turnovers.
Last night’s 10-steal performance from Purdue is the first time in conference play this season that the Boilermakers had double-digit takeaways in a game.
One thing that drives coaches wild is live ball turnovers because they lead to easy buckets on the other end.
At one point in the first half, Gabe Cupps threw a bounce pass directly into the hands of Brayden Smith, who had four steals by himself last night.
“Not having X hurt because that puts a lot of pressure on Gabe [Cupps] to get some things down,” Woodson said postgame. “I thought he played okay tonight.”
This is just an example of one of the many errant passes Indiana threw last night.
It is already tough to play in a raucous environment like Mackey, but turnovers leading to transition opportunities make it much more unfeasible to stay in the game.
“We got to take care of the ball on the road,” Trey Galloway said of the costly turnovers. “There is very little room for error and they went on that run.”
Indiana will have to take care of the ball and avoid live ball turnovers if they want to win some games down the stretch and give themselves a puncher’s chance at a run to any postseason play.
3. Zach Edey had one more free throw attempt than Indiana.
There’s no surprise that this happened, especially after watching Northwestern play 8v5 a week ago, but here we are in year four of Zach Edey in the conference, and the officials haven’t figured out how to call the game when he is on the floor.
Edey is a an enormous human being and a tremendous basketball player, but there aren’t many excuses for this stat.
The argument that Purdue played a more aggressive brand of basketball is moot because the Boilermakers only had two more points in the paint than the Hoosiers last night.
“I can’t control the fouls,” Kel’el Ware said postgame. “It’s up to the refs.”
This is exactly where coaching matters. When Matt Painter didn’t like a foul call on his team last night, he let the refs hear it. Woodson did not.
If Mike Woodson isn’t going to stand up for his players and get in the faces of the three referees, then there is no room for griping about the disparity from the charity stripe.
It felt like Woodson and his staff threw in the towel five minutes into the second half, which is very concerning.
2 Important Observations
1. There was a severe lack of interest from the bench during the second half.
On top of the coaches appearing to give up on the game, the guys on the bench had a severe lack of energy when things got tough last night.
No matter how the season is going, the two games against Purdue should be circled on the schedule as games that need energy from the moment you start watching film days before the game until the final horn.
It took Indiana a whopping 10 minutes to lose energy on the bench, and the guys on the floor followed their lead.
“I thought we played well early,” Woodson said postgame. “From the 10-minute mark going into the half we couldn’t score and threw the ball away.”
Losing by 20 is one thing, but losing interest a quarter of the way into a game against your arch-rival is unacceptable, and it’s even more frustrating knowing that it started with the coaching staff.
2. Malik Reneau was a no-show.
In a game full of disheartening play, none was more apparent than Malik Reneau.
The sophomore was stymied by Purdue last night to the tune of 6 points on 3-11 shooting.
The lack of production from Indiana’s most valuable asset stemmed from early foul trouble as Reneau played 23 minutes, his second-lowest total of the Big Ten season.
“He just wasn’t Malik and they had a lot to do with that from a defensive standpoint,” Woodson said. “He was trying to do it himself and just looked out of character.”
Luckily for the cream and crimson, these types of games from Reneau are few and far between; however, it hurts especially bad for him to have this bad of a game against Purdue.
“He’s been pretty solid for us this season,” Woodson added. “Tonight just wasn’t his night.”
1 Lingering Question
How long can Indiana continue to look like this without wholesale changes?
Indiana was flat-out embarrassed by their rival for the second time this season.
During his postgame press conference, Woodson kept reiterating that his team is young.
It is impossible to reason with this argument when the opponent won the Big Ten last year with two freshman guards in the backcourt.
It also cannot be used an excuse in the transfer portal era that allows coaches to reload their team with experience every season.
This season is not over, but the questions surrounding the program once again loom large.
How much longer can Scott Dolson watch his coaching staff give up in the second half of a rivalry game, especially with how the season has evolved up to this point?
Whether you are willing to admit it or not, the NCAA bubble has popped, and Indiana is playing for nothing but pride and an NIT berth the rest of the way.
The big unknown right now is whether or not the coaching staff is auditioning for their positions over the season’s final month, much like guys such as CJ Gunn are vying for their spot on next year’s roster.
With more performances like Illinois, Iowa, and Ohio State, a case can be made that things are still moving in a somewhat positive direction.
But when those performances are balanced by the two losses to Purdue and the home blowout to Penn State, the questions and concerns are obvious.
Thanks for reading!
Make sure you vote in the postgame polls for Game Ball and Hoosier Hustle Award, and leave your takeaways on last night’s game.
The Hoosiers now have a nice long break until next Sunday. We’ll talk to you next on AC Radio this Thursday, then reconvene for the IU-Northwestern postgame show next weekend.
Enjoy your Super Bowl Sunday!
The Assembly Call