WEST LAFAYETTE — Behind Jalen Hood-Schifino’s career performance, Indiana won its season series with Purdue for the first time in a decade Saturday night, winning 79-71 at Mackey Arena. Here are three reasons why:
Jalen Hood-Schifino is hanging tough
Indiana (20-9, 11-7) struggled in the first half Saturday. In front of a Feral Mackey Arena crowd, the Hoosiers got off to a slow start before digging in behind their rookie point guard.
Jalen Hood-Schifino was, by any measure, the best player on the floor in the opening 20 minutes. Not so influential, necessarily, that Zach Eddy’s gravitas gives him that distinction.
But the Hood-Schifino difference, Indiana’s All-American big man in one half, was unusually unable to find his footing. As Trace Jackson-Davis finished the half with no points, more than fouls (2) and just one field-goal attempt (3), his rookie point guard rolled up 23.
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Purdue’s drop coverage on ball screens and Eddy’s connection with Jackson-Davis, Hood-Schifino, mixed in spots at the rim, midrange and behind the 3-point line resulted in extra space.
4-for-12 on free throws and excellent offensive rebounding by Purdue gave the hosts a 38-34 halftime lead. But for IU, it could have been a lot worse but for the brilliance of Jalen Hood-Schifino. He finished with 35 points, one shy of IU’s rookie record set by Jay Edwards.
The Hoosiers work at the 3-point line
Making the 3 has not been a problem for Indiana this season. For the first time in a long time, the Hoosiers are far and away the most accurate outfit in the Big Ten and the nation.
However, volume is not always present. The Hoosiers are one of college basketball’s least 3-point chance teams, and that’s been expensive in recent weeks.
Not Saturday night. With Hood-Schifino running the show and Jackson-Davis drawing attention, IU’s 3-point shooters are letting it fly early and often. Miller Cobb and Trey Galloway provided the Hoosiers with important offense from behind the arc, taking advantage of the way Purdue sold the quiet Jackson-Davis.
Big 3s responded to Purdue runs and quieted the crowd, keeping Indiana within touching distance. When the Boilermakers started to struggle after halftime, Ark pushed the Hoosiers ahead.
IU finished 7-of-15 from 3-point range on the night, and those numbers marked both the Hoosiers’ most attempts and most attempts in a single game in nearly a month.
Hoosiers hang on
Despite Jackson-Davis’ quiet night (10 points, eight rebounds, six assists) and almighty foul trouble in the post thanks to Eddy’s dominance, Indiana out-toughed and outplayed Purdue (24-5, 13-5) in the second half. The Hoosiers played as impressively as they have all season.
IU sped up and outscored its host, finishing plus-12 after halftime. Jackson-Davis still managed double-digit points after halftime and filled the stat sheet in other important areas despite his own shortcomings. Both Galloway and Cobb put up double-digit scoring efforts. And Hood-Schifino didn’t stop scoring, finishing with a game and career-high 35 points.
The controlling nature of the Indiana game was so quiet that at the end of it, the Hoosiers didn’t meet as much hostility as silence. Purdue fans had already applied to leave.
Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.