Exactly three weeks after slaying then-No. 1 Purdue, No. 17 Indiana completed the regular-season sweep of its in-state rival with a 79-71 road victory over the No. 5 Boilermakers on Saturday. In the first meeting, senior center Trayce Jackson-Davis played a starring role for the Hoosiers in the first meeting, but Jalen Hood-Schifino paced the Hoosiers' attack this time with a career-high 35 points.
The freshman guard scored 23 of Indiana's 34 points in the first half to keep the Hoosiers afloat as the Boilermakers took a 38-34 lead into the break. But it was all Indiana in the second half as the Hoosiers (20-9, 11-7) built a commanding lead behind contributions from a variety of sources.
Jackson-Davis, a potential All-American, did not score until 11:44 remained, which made Indiana's surge all the more impressive. Miller Kopp and Trey Galloway each reached double figures, and Jackson-Davis eventually got there as well with a thunderous transition dunk that put the Hoosiers ahead 73-62 with 2:56 remaining.
Star center Zach Edey led Purdue with 26 points but the Boilermakers made just 5 of 23 attempts from 3-point range.
The loss marked Purdue's fourth in its last six games since a 22-1 start as the Boilermakers fell to 24-5 (13-5) entering the final week of the regular season. With the win, Indiana remains firmly in contention for a double-bye at the Big Ten Tournament.
It was the first game at Mackey Arena between Indiana and Purdue in which both teams ranked since 1999. IU snapped a seven-game losing streak inside the venue with the win.
The Hoosiers have a blossoming star on their roster in Hood-Schifino, and what we saw from him against Purdue suggests IU's ceiling involves playing into April. Purdue also plays freshman guards in Foster Loyer and Braden Smith, but there was no comparison Saturday.
Hood-Schifino made 14 of 24 attempts from the field while Loyer and Smith combined to make 6 of 23 shots. For a Hoosiers' squad that has been without veteran guard Xavier Johnson for most of the season because of a foot injury, Hood-Schifino's development into one of the best players in the Big Ten has been a catalyst for the team's recovery from a 1-4 start to league play.
Though he'll almost certainly leave Indiana after the season for the NBA Draft, Hood-Schifino can be the first lead guard for IU Yogi Ferrell in 2016 to guide the program past the first round of the NCAA Tournament. A dynamic back court player has been the missing piece for Indiana during Jackson-Davis' career, and Saturday was another reminder that Hood-Schifino has solved the problem this season.
Warning for Purdue
When Purdue lost at Northwestern on Feb. 12, players other than Edey made just 10 of 37 shots for Purdue. In a 68-54 loss at Maryland on Feb. 16, no one other than Edey and Smith scored more than six points. Even in a blowout victory over Ohio State on Sunday, Edey was the only Purdue starter in double figures.
While Purdue is built around Edey, the Boilermakers are at their best when getting substantive contributions from other players, and such contributions were missing again Saturday as players other than Edey made 14 of 46 shots. While Smith and Loyer have exceeded expectations and outplayed their modest recruiting rankings this season, the flaws in an approach that relies heavily on unheralded freshmen guards are beginning to show for the Boilermakers.
Despite the loss, the Boilermakers will remain a projected No. 1 seed for the NCAA Tournament, according to CBS Sports Bracketology Expert Jerry Palm. Purdue was helped Saturday in the bracket picture by the fact that projected No. 2 seeds Arizona and Texas lost. However, the Boilermakers will drop from the third No. 1 seed to the fourth No. 1 seed as a result of Saturday's outcome.
Purdue closes at Wisconsin on Thursday and at home against Illinois on Sunday. If Northwestern wins its final three games (at Maryland, vs. Penn State and at Rutgers), then Purdue will need to win both in order to be the solo league champion. Ultimately, Purdue still controls its own destiny and will be the outright league champion if it wins its final two games. But a doomsday scenario also remains possible in which Northwestern is the solo champion if the Wildcats finish 3-0 and the Boilermakers lose both games next week.