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February 15, 2014

Wheels come off for Hoosiers at Mackey

It's been a tough week for the Indiana men's basketball team. Collapsing in the final two minutes to lose a home game Wednesday night. Getting news yesterday that a player had been arrested and put on indefinite suspension.

Nothing that a strong team couldn't handle but this Hoosier squad is a young one, a team that again showed how fragile it can be Saturday at Mackey Arena. Falling behind by as many as 25 points, Indiana fell to Purdue, 82-64.

The loss was the third straight for the Hoosiers and drops Tom Crean's team to 14-11 overall and to 4-8 in the Big Ten, 10th place now in the standings. The result also ended a four-game winning streak against their in-state rival.

That lack of mental toughness began showing itself in the final seconds of a half again--this time the end of a first half. With the game tied at 33, Ronnie Johnson hit two free throws to put Purdue up two with 36.3 seconds. Indiana then had the ball in position to tie or cut the lead going into the break. Instead the opposite happened. Yogi Ferrell missed a three-pointer and freshman Devin Davis was called for a foul on the rebound with 1.9 seconds in the half. Freshman Basil Smotherman went to the line and hit the first and then after missing the second, managed to grab the loose ball and quickly lay it up to enable a 38-33 halftime lead for Purdue.

End of half momentum blow seemed to floor the Hoosiers. Purdue would extend it to a 19-1 run, dominating the opening five minutes of the second half. When Errick Peck hit a free throw with 15:20 to play, it was 52-34 and essentially over. Over because Indiana had no fight left in it.

"We went to the locker room with a lot of momentum," said Smotherman. "Terone (Johnson) and Sterling (Carter) were just telling us, 'Keep putting it on them in the second half.' We came out and did and we never let up. That kind of sparked us the whole rest of the game."

"The first half we fought pretty hard and thought we were right there and then they went on the run to start the second half and we just didn't take the hit, we didn't fight back like we should have, and it got to where it was," said Hoosier sophomore Austin Etherington.

"We did not answer the ball that we needed to when they were on that run," said Crean. "Didn't get back and get stops the way that we needed to."

When Sterling Carter hit the last of his five 3-pointers with 4:41 to play, the lead had ballooned to 75-50.

Giving Purdue open looks from the outside was a game long problem for Indiana. The Boilers knocked down 10-for-18 from beyond the arc.

"That was probably our best shooting game beyond the arc for the whole season," said Purdue head coach Matt Painter.

The Boilermakers came into the game shooting just 30.1 percent from 3-point range.

"They were shooting 26 percent from three the last five games and 29 percent at home, 30 percent overall, and today 56 percent," said Crean.

Carter, a grad transfer from Seattle University, missed just one of his six 3-point attempts and finished with a team high 19 points. He came into the game only averaging 4.3 points per game and while he had many higher scoring games in his Seattle days, this was well above his previous Boiler high of 13 points.

"He had a career day obviously but we were concerned about him," said Crean. "His shooting numbers as low as they were, were an anomaly, we knew he was much more capable than that."

Carter was the catalyst for the second half opening blitz, scoring the first 10 points for Purdue.

"I think Sterling Carter was the difference in the game, his ability to knock down some shots for us," said Painter. "Especially at the start of the second half where he really got us going."

Yogi Ferrell led the Hoosiers with 27 points but was only 6-for-17 from the field. He did hit his first 11 free throws for the game. Noah Vonleh added 14 points despite foul trouble and Will Sheehey added 10 points, but all of it came during the game's first 10 minutes.

"I thought we did a pretty decent job on Yogi Ferrell and it speaks volumes to how good a player he is, still getting 27 points," said Painter.

Starting guard Stan Robinson and backup Evan Gordon were scoreless, missing all nine shots from the floor.

"Two of the last three games we have gotten zero points out of the two spot--zero points," said Crean.

Now just three games over .500, the question now for Indiana is whether the Hoosiers can stay above that mark. The schedule doesn't get any easier as third place Iowa comes to Bloomington on Tuesday night for another national ESPN broadcast.

Crean was not worried that things may snowball for his Hoosier team.

"I've dealt with doubts most of my life, maybe not all of it but most it and I am pretty good at dealing with it," said Crean. "I am pretty good at spotted when other people have them and I don't tolerate it. I am just concerned that we're really ready to play at home against Iowa on Tuesday night. And I'm really concerned that they had 40 free throws today (at Penn State)."

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