by Ryan Berry | staff writer
Bloomington, IN-Purdue junior A.J. Hammons taunted the hostile Indiana crowd by giving them a victorious salute. His fellow big man Isaac Haas flaunted his black and gold Purdue jersey for all to see. Seconds later, the entire Purdue men’s basketball team greeted them at midcourt in triumphant jubilation.
Moments earlier, Kendall Stephens’ block on an attempted three point shot from Indiana’s James Blackmon, Jr. had clinched a Purdue win over its bitter rival by the score of 67-63.The win was the Boilermakers’ second victory over the Hoosiers this season. Purdue had previously beaten Indiana 83-67 at Mackey Arena on January 28.
Despite shooting an inauspicious 2-18 from three point range, the Boilermakers (18-9, 10-4 Big Ten) were able to use their obvious size advantage and exploit Indiana’s glaring lack of post presence. 7 foot junior A.J. Hammons shot 8-9 from the field to finish with 20 points including two enormous free throws with less than five seconds remaining to ice the Purdue win. Hammons’ understudy, freshman Isaac Haas, added 12 points, while shooting an impressive 6-6 from the free throw line. The two big men combined to rip down 13 rebounds.
Indiana point guard Yogi Ferrell scored 21 points for the Hoosiers (18-9, 8-6 Big Ten) in defeat. Talented freshman James Blackmon, Jr. contributed 14 more points and 2 assists in a losing effort. Ultimately, the Hoosiers struggled to do what they do best, shoot the 3. Despite coming into Thursday’s game shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc at home, Indiana shot only 5-16, a mere 31.3 percent.
Early on, Purdue was out of sorts as it tried to adjust to the hostile environment. As a result of several turnovers, the Boilermakers allowed Indiana to race out to a 20-12 lead. From there, Purdue was able to settle down and play at a more familiar pace. This change helped Purdue eventually tie the contest at 27, before Yogi Ferrell buried a jumper just before the first half concluded.
In the second half of play, Purdue used a scoring surge from its big men to open up a lead that grew to as many as eight points. But Indiana kept crawling back.
With three minutes to go, James Blackmon, Jr. made a three pointer to cut the Purdue lead to the slimmest of margins at 58-57. A little while later, Yogi Ferrell hit a triple of his own to give the Hoosiers a 61-60 lead. With starting point guard Jon Octeus on the bench with five fouls, things looked grim for Purdue.
At that moment, junior captain Raphael Davis took matters into his own hands. Back to back layups by Davis helped Purdue take back a lead they would never relinquish.
With the clock reading 4.3 seconds, Hammons calmly stepped to the line and buried two clutch free throws to give Purdue its first win at Assembly Hall in four years. The Boilermakers earned their first two-game season sweep of the Hoosiers since the 2010-2011season.
The team was welcomed back to campus around 12:40 AM when several students met the team bus at Mackey Arena upon its return from Bloomington.
Purdue will now turn its attention to the Rutgers Scarlet Knights who will visit Mackey Arena next Thursday, February 26th.