Purdue 71, Indiana 56
WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP)—Freshman Ije Nwankwo had a career-high 17 points and seven rebounds to lift Purdue to a 71-56 win over Indiana on Saturday.
David Teague and Kenneth Lowe each scored 17 for Purdue (16-8, 6-5 Big Ten), but it was Nwankwo who set the tone with his aggressiveness and foul shooting.
Nwankwo went 13 for 14 from the free-throw line and got Indiana’s post players into foul trouble early in the game.
The Hoosiers (12-10, 6-5), who have had success on the road in the Big Ten this year, shot just 36 percent for the game and never got the Purdue lead under double digits in the second half.
Purdue took control early, getting Indiana in foul trouble with an aggressive inside game.
Indiana has struggled to have a consistent post presence all season, and when George Leach picked up two fouls in the first four minutes, Nwankwo took over. He scored 12 points in the half, including 10 of 10 free throws.
The Hoosiers didn’t match Purdue’s intensity. They made just 2 of 6 free throws to fall behind.
Lowe hit a pair of 3-pointers and scored 13 in the half as Purdue staked a 35-25 lead at halftime.
David Teague started the second half with consecutive 3-pointers to give the Boilermakers a 41-25 lead, then thwarted a 2-on-1 fast break by Indiana to keep the pressure on.
The Hoosiers started to creep back with a 6-0 run, but Indiana coach Mike Davis got a costly technical foul for arguing with the officials, and Purdue reclaimed the momentum.
Nwankwo was right in the middle of the action all afternoon, blocking shots, diving for loose balls and, most importantly, taking advantage of his frequent trips to the foul line.
Nwankwo was just 2 for 9 from the floor, but he more than made up for it with foul shooting and energy. He also had two blocks, two steals and two assists. His aggressiveness gave the Hoosiers fits—especially Leach, who fouled out with 2:25 to play, and Pat Ewing Jr., who fouled out with one minute to play.
Purdue’s overwhelming advantage at the free-throw line—24 of 31 while Indiana was just 6 for 13—was the difference.
That, and Indiana’s poor shooting. Bracey Wright scored 16 points, but was just 5 for 18 from the floor.
Indiana went nearly five minutes without a field goal in the first half and was outscored 15-3 during a seven-minute stretch to fall behind.
The scariest moment for the Hoosiers came with 10:07 to play. Sean Kline twisted his right knee while trying to catch a pass under the basket. He crumpled to the floor in pain and was carted off. Kline was taken for an MRI on his knee and there was no immediate word on his condition.
Indiana never got closer than 11 points in the second half, as Purdue avenged a tough loss to the Hoosiers in Bloomington on Jan. 27. That loss sent the Boilermakers into a tailspin in which they lost four of five.
After Saturday’s convincing win, however, all appears right in West Lafayette, at least for a day.