WEST LAFAYETTE – Indiana’s 82-64 loss to Purdue (15-10, 5-7 Big Ten) on Saturday at Mackey Arena was the Hoosiers’ third in a row since upsetting then-No. 10 Michigan 63-52 on Feb. 2.
And it was the second seemingly demoralizing loss in a row for IU (14-11, 4-8), which lost in the final minute of Wednesday’s 66-65 home loss to Penn State.
But Indiana coach Tom Crean said he isn’t concerned about the last two games having a snowball effect on the final six games of the season.
I don’t ever think like that. That’s not how I’m built. That’s not how I’m going to coach the team. That’s what we have to work through, Crean said. If I thought there was anybody that was in that situation where they weren’t going as hard, you would see them play a lot less.
I’ve dealt with doubts most of my life. I’m pretty good at dealing with that. I’m pretty good at spotting it when other people have them, and I don’t tolerate it. I’m concerned about making sure that we’re really ready to play at home against Iowa on Tuesday night.
Quiet big men
The clash between two of the Big Ten’s top post players – Indiana’s Noah Vonleh and Purdue’s A.J. Hammons – never got going Saturday because of foul trouble.
Vonleh was limited to nine minutes in the first half because of three fouls. The freshman forward finished with 14 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes, but he couldn’t be aggressive as he finished with four fouls.
It’s part of the experience, how are you going to learn if you don’t go through it? Crean said. You got to learn you can’t leave your feet like that.
IU turned to Devin Davis with Vonleh in foul trouble with Hanner Mosquera-Perea suspended indefinitely because of a drunken-driving arrest Friday. Davis, who entered the game averaging 2.1 points in 8.5 minutes, had two points in 12 minutes.
Hammons finished with five points, seven rebounds and three fouls in 19 minutes.
Any time you can lose a big part of your team to foul trouble and you never establish an inside presences, it’s good to see other guys score the basketball, said Purdue coach Matt Painter, whose team made 25 of 52 shots and 10 of 18 3-pointers.
Making him work
Indiana guard Yogi Ferrell entered Saturday leading the conference in scoring with 17.5 points per game.
The sophomore scored 27 points, but he had to work for it. Ferrell went 6-for-17 shooting and got 11 of his points at the free-throw line, where he went 11 for 13.
I don’t know with great players if any one thing works, Painter said. I think you just got to battle and make it tough on them. I thought Carter (Sterling) and Bryson Scott did a good job of maintaining their focus to try to wear him down a little bit.