BLOOMINGTON – Well that was fun.
In the latest iteration of one of the best rivalries in college basketball, Indiana and Purdue played a roller-coaster of a first half that saw the Boilermakers jump out by as many as 11 before a finishing kick from the Hoosiers drew them back within 40-36 at halftime. Purdue is 7 for 9 from 3-point range.
Both teams came out with plenty of energy despite playing in front of a mostly-empty stadium and both teams seemed prepared for the physicality of the game, which was intense most of the first half. Indiana had eight second-chance points and a 14-7 lead in points off turnovers, while Race Thompson and Armaan Franklin have been particularly tough on the glass, grabbing four rebounds apiece to pace Indiana. Purdue has often been the tougher team in this rivalry in recent years, but the Hoosiers seem to have at least parity in that area tonight.
The Boilermakers, however, came to play on the offensive end. Indiana focused a lot of defensive effort on Trevion Williams – for good reason – and the Boilermakers were able to run some pick-and-rolls that the Hoosiers switched, leaving Trayce Jackson-Davis on a smaller Purdue guard. That gave the Boilermakers some opportunities for outside shots and Purdue made them count, as Brandon Newman, Sasha Stefanovic both hit multiple shots from 3-point range. The Boilermakers are shooting 54% overall. Even better from Purdue's perspective, the Boilermakers were able to get the ball inside often enough that Jackson-Davis picked up his second foul with 9:57 to go in the first half. Jackson-Davis had been the vast majority of Indiana's offense up to that point, but he left the game and did not return for nearly five minutes. Thompson is a solid defender, but he's not really a match for Williams, who has six points and four rebounds at halftime. In essence, the Boilermakers got their guards going and got Indiana's best big out of the game. That's a recipe for success. Indiana coach Archie Miller eventually put Jackson-Davis back in the game with the pair of fouls and tried to sub him out when the Hoosiers were on defense. It was a risky move but it worked out as well as could be expected as Jackson-Davis contributed what he could while also avoiding a third foul.
The major piece of good news for the Hoosiers was that Franklin returned from his ankle injury and played 14 minutes in the opening half. Though Archie Miller said the sophomore from Indianapolis would be somewhat limited, Franklin seemed 100% and played as though he had never been out. He made a pull-up jumper, grabbed a rebound and ran the secondary break before dishing off for an Al Durham 3, went coast-to-coast for a layup and played some nice defense on the perimeter. He was one of Indiana's most active players and the Hoosiers desperately needed him to stop Purdue from getting too far ahead. Franklin had eight points in the opening half.
The Hoosiers were able to survive with Jackson-Davis off the floor and down the stretch in the first half, they were able to pull closer. A 9-0 Indiana run got the Indiana bench as fired up as I've seen it all season, clapping and yelling on nearly every possession. Some of the intensity spilled over and Stefanovic and Thompson ended up getting double technicals after getting in each others' faces following a Stefanovic foul on Franklin. This could be a doozy coming down the stretch, with both teams really into the game. Purdue had a chance to bury Indiana and didn't do it and this is anyone's game as we hit halftime.