BLOOMINGTON – Rob Phinisee buried a fadeaway corner 3-pointer with 16.9 seconds left, part of his career-high 20 points and Indiana toppled No. 4 Purdue 68-65 at Assembly Hall tonight, giving coach Mike Woodson a victory in his first matchup against the Hoosiers' rival and bringing the crowd on to the court in a seething mass of humanity.
Jaden Ivey led Purdue with 21 points. His potential game-tying 3 missed off the backboard as the buzzer sounded, rimming out by the slimmest of margins. Xavier Johnson added 18 for Indiana.
- Phinisee phinds his way: Phinisee is one of the more enigmatic players in the recent history of Indiana basketball. After a very promising freshman season in 2018-19 (including a game-winning 3 in the Crossroads Classic against Butler), he struggled through each of the next two campaigns, losing the offensive playmaking ability that made him so effective alongside Romeo Langford as a freshman. He was so lost at the end of last season that he frequently air-balled wide-open 3s, rendering it difficult for then-coach Archie Miller to play him. New coach Mike Woodson made it a priority to get Phinisee's confidence back and all of that work bore fruit tonight. Phinisee played the best half of his career in the first 20 minutes, helping the Hoosiers climb back from an eight-point deficit and take a 37-28 lead into halftime. He scored 13 points, including three 3s, in a 3:59 span and completely locked up Purdue's Eric Hunter Jr. and Isaiah Thompson on defense. When he made his third 3, the crowd erupted and Phinisee, a Lafayette native, backpedaled the other way, waving his arms in the air, exhorting the crowd to get even louder. Later, the Hoosiers ran the two biggest plays of the game to get Phinisee a shot and he buried the second attempt, a ridiculous game-winner that sent the crowd into delirium. That type of moment was a long time coming for the senior.
- Michael Durr shows his worth: Indiana backup center, a transfer from South Florida, has at times felt like a forgotten man this season. For understandable reasons, Woodson has been reluctant to remove All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis from the game: the 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball is the focal point of the Hoosiers' offense and their emotional leader. But tonight Jackson-Davis picked up two quick fouls guarding Purdue's Zach Edey and Durr played a season-high in minutes. The 7-footer was not an offensive force, but he held his own in post defense against Edey and Trevion Williams, something few have been able to do all season. He actually did a better job of banging inside with Edey in particular than all-everything Illinois center Kofi Cockburn did on Monday when Purdue was in Champaign. Durr had two steals and two blocks and provided ultra-valuable minutes while Jackson-Davis was in foul trouble. This is why the Hoosiers brought Durr in: last season (with Joey Brunk injured), Race Thompson would have had to play that spot and the Hoosiers would have been criminally undersized. Durr provides depth and toughness there, plus a little shooting touch (he made a 17-footer in the second half).
- A whole new world: For most of the season, it's been an open question as to how much Indiana's first team under Woodson is different from its last under Miller. The Hoosiers seemed deeper and more versatile, but they had been tested just once against a really good opponent and they were blown off the court in the second half against Wisconsin in that one instance. After tonight, it's difficult to argue it's the Same Old Hoosiers. In beating a top 5 team and vanquishing their archrival for the first time in 10 tries, Indiana showed off a toughness, offensive playmaking ability and defensive intensity that has rarely been evident in the last half-decade in Bloomington. It's probably a bad idea to ascribe too much significance to one game, but it did feel as though a lot of demons were at least temporarily expelled from Assembly Hall tonight. At minimum, the crowd was as alive as I can remember it in my five seasons covering the team – the roar was back, for one night at least.
This was the 214th meeting in the rivalry, which was first played in 1901. ... Indiana is 12-0 at Assembly Hall this season and 13-0 when coach Mike Woodson wears a suit and tie on the sidelines. ... The Hoosiers beat Purdue for the first time since Feb. 20, 2016, when Tom Crean was still the IU coach. Indiana won the Big Ten championship that season. In the interim, Purdue had won nine in a row, equaling the longest streak in the series since 1955 and the longest for the Boilermakers since 1935. Purdue has not won 10 straight against the Hoosiers since 1914. ... Indiana came into the game No. 2 in the country in field goal percentage defense at 36.5%. Purdue was No. 3 in field goal percentage at 50.2%. The Boilermakers shot 46% tonight. ... The Hoosiers forced 12 turnovers and committed only three themselves. They held a 15-5 advantage in points off turnovers ... Indiana was 14 of 24 from the foul line and Purdue was 7 of 17. ... Fort Wayne native Caleb Furst, a Blackhawk Christian graduate, had two points and three rebounds in 11 minutes. It was his first game against Indiana.
Both of these teams play again Sunday. Purdue welcomes Northwestern (9-7, 2-5 Big Ten) to Mackey Arena. The matchup will tip off at 1 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. The Wildcats are coming off an 82-76 loss to Wisconsin on Tuesday and Purdue will be the third straight top 10 team they will face. They beat No. 10 Michigan State in East Lansing on Saturday.
The Hoosiers will play host to Michigan (8-7, 2-3 Big Ten) at Assembly Hall. That game will tip off at 3:30 p.m. and the game will be a national broadcast on CBS. The Wolverines, coming off a 10-day pause because of coronavirus concerns within the program, thumped Maryland 83-64 on Tuesday. They have won eight straight against the Hoosiers.