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Jalen Hood-Schifino makes the difference as Indiana upsets No. 5 Purdue

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Three Purdue fans ambled toward Mackey Arena shortly after 6 p.m. on Saturday, roughly 90 minutes before tip-off between No. 17 Indiana and the fifth-ranked Boilermakers. As they approached an intersection, one of the men received a phone call from a friend inquiring about where to meet them. “We’re heading to the stadium,” the man said, “the bars are all too packed.”

All of West Lafayette hummed with anticipation ahead of the first meeting at Mackey Arena with both rivals ranked in the top 25 since 1999. Purdue had beaten the Hoosiers in seven straight home games and ached for the chance to avenge an early February loss at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Student sections on either end of the building were packed to the rafters more than an hour early, and the Boilermakers extended their consecutive sellout streak to 66.

But their roars grew quieter and quieter over the course of a two-hour bout with frustration. Purdue’s narrow halftime lead vanished within minutes of the second-half whistle, and that proved to be the only lead change in a game Indiana thoroughly deserved to win. An uncharacteristically tepid showing for Big Ten Player of the Year candidate Trayce Jackson-Davis (10 points) was offset by a wondrous performance from freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino, whose career-high 35 points outpaced everyone in a resounding 79-71 victory that nudged Indiana toward the top of the league’s hierarchy. Purdue is now 24-5, 13-5 in the Big Ten, while Indiana improved to 20-10 and 11-7.

“It was an unbelievable display of basketball for him,” Indiana head coach Mike Woodson said of Hood-Schifino. “I mean, I thought he played 40 minutes and got the ball where it’s gotta go offensively and then put the ball in the hole. He had a tremendous game for us. And we needed it.”


Men’s College Basketball National Player of the Year candidate Zach Edey scored 26 points and grabbed 16 rebounds, but lacked the support from his teammates to prevent the Boilermakers from suffering a fourth loss in their last six games. Shooting guard Fletcher Loyer (14 points) was the only other player in double figures as Purdue missed 12 of 15 3-pointers in the second half and shot just 34.9% from the field overall.

Five-star freshman heats up 

It’s interesting to imagine how Indiana coach Mike Woodson might have reacted if he was informed of the following before the game: Nearly 10 minutes would pass before Jackson-Davis attempted his first field goal; more than 13 minutes would elapse before Jackson-Davis engineered his first post-up on the low block; the first half would come to an end with Jackson-Davis still searching for his first points on 0-for-3 shooting.

The player who netted 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked five shots in Indiana’s pulsating win over then-No. 1 Purdue in early February was neutralized by a defensive strategy the Boilermakers are intimately familiar with given the number of teams who’ve deployed it against Edey this season. Purdue coach Matt Painter asked his guards and wings to double Jackson-Davis in the post whenever possible, ripping and poking and slapping at the ball to simultaneously clog passing lanes and hunt for potential steals. When guard Brandon Newman gouged the ball free from Jackson-Davis on the right block, Purdue turned it into points on the other end when point guard Braden Smith snared the rebound off a missed 3-pointer and quickly flipped it home.

Highlights: No. 17 Indiana topples No. 5 Purdue

No. 17 Indiana rode a big second half to a 79-71 comeback victory. Jalen Hood-Schifino scored a career-high 35 points.

“Trayce, you know, they just weren’t going to let him play,” Woodson said. “Got in foul trouble a little bit and gave us some positive minutes in the second half, but we didn’t get a whole lot out of him the first half because they just weren’t letting him play. But everybody filled in around him.”

With Jackson-Davis blanketed, the scoring burden fell to Hood-Schifino, a former five-star prospect whose importance to the Hoosiers has soared in the wake of a long-term injury to starting point guard Xavier Johnson. Hood-Schifino tormented the 66th consecutive sellout crowd at Mackey Arena with a dazzling 23-point outburst in the first half to keep Indiana afloat. By pairing a muscular 6-foot-6 frame with the poise of players far older, Hood-Schifino repeatedly drove defenders to his preferred spots on the floor — the right elbow and the right side of the paint — for an array of pull-up jumpers, floaters, leaners and layups that oozed the confidence of a potential NBA lottery pick.

Earlier this season, Hood-Schifino poured in 33 points against Northwestern for the highest scoring output by an IU freshman since Eric Gordon in 2007 — a mark he bettered with clutch shot after clutch shot in the second half. He entered Saturday’s game third among Big Ten freshmen in scoring (12.8 PPG), second in assists (four per game) and fourth in rebounds (four per game) and now, after guiding the Hoosiers to a season sweep over Purdue, seems an obvious choice for the league’s Freshman of the Year.

“Coach Woody was trying to get me baskets,” Jackson-Davis said, “and I told him, ‘Coach, not right now. We’re riding (Hood-Schifino) right now.’ And when a guy is hot like that, you’ve just got to keep getting him the ball.”

Finding a supporting cast

The Hoosiers erased a 38-34 halftime deficit by opening with a 19-4 run as role players Trey Galloway (7.1 PPG) and Miller Kopp (8.0 PPG) caught fire from the same spot on the floor: the left corner directly in front of Indiana’s bench.

Jalen Hood-Schifino: ‘I knew I had to step up’

Jalen Hood-Schifino spoke with Jim Jackson on his career-high 35 point night in the Indiana Hoosiers’ big win over the No. 5 Purdue Boilermakers.

Galloway’s modest scoring average belies a highly efficient approach to the offensive end of the floor. He arrived at Mackey Arena shooting 51.2% from the field and 50% from 3-point range — and then he bettered those numbers through the first 30 minutes of Saturday’s game. In the span of 1:56 — and during which the Hoosiers turned a six-point deficit into a four-point advantage — Galloway sandwiched a layup between two 3-pointers from the left corner to give the Hoosiers their first lead. He finished with 13 points, including three 3-pointers, and also chipped in five assists and a steal without committing a turnover. Painter called timeout after Kopp (13 points, 3-of-7 from 3-point range) added a third 3-pointer from the left corner and power forward Race Thompson punched home a spinning dunk to extend Indiana’s advantage to 51-42.

“In the second half, man, it was just an unbelievable combination of defense and putting the ball in the bucket,” Woodson said.

More and more pressure settled onto Edey’s shoulders as Purdue’s supporting cast struggled to keep pace, an increasingly common theme during a turbulent period in which the Boilermakers have now dropped four of their last six with tournament play approaching. It’s a storyline most easily applied to freshmen guards Smith and Loyer, two players whose production has wobbled since Purdue’s blistering start to the season. The backcourt duo entered the weekend averaging 22.5 combined points and shooting 37.6% from beyond the arc in their team’s 24 victories, but those numbers plummet to 17.3 points per game and 24% from 3-point range in losses.

The trend continued against the Hoosiers. Loyer, who made multiple 3-pointers in 12 of Purdue’s first 17 games before hitting one 3-pointer or fewer in nine of the last 10 games prior to Saturday, connected on a pair of triples against Indiana but shot just 33% from the floor on 12 field goal attempts for 14 inefficient points. Smith misfired on all three of his attempts from beyond the arc and made just two of 11 shots overall. As a team, the Boilermakers made just five of 23 attempts from 3-point range (22%).

“I have ultimate confidence in my teammates — always have, always will,” Edey said. “It doesn’t matter if we win or lose. It doesn’t matter if shots go in or shots don’t. It’s a great group of guys I’m surrounded with, and we’re just gonna figure it out.”

Michael Cohen covers college football and basketball for FOX Sports with an emphasis on the Big Ten. Follow him on Twitter at @Michael_Cohen13.

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