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The Journal Gazette

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 9:04 pm

Postgame thoughts: Purdue 86, Indiana 75

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

WEST LAFAYETTE – Quick hits and takeaways from the Hoosiers' penultimate regular-season game:

* Ice packs concealed knee wounds on James Blackmon Jr. and Josh Newkirk well after the battle. While it was probably routine postgame maintenance, Indiana has been cut, has bled, has been bruised and battered. This season has scarred the Hoosiers.

* And now we wait. More results nationwide will further shed light on the NIT picture.

* Purdue students chanted "N-I-T" to demean Indiana. Even that might be overselling Indiana. Perhaps "C-B-I," for College Basketball Invitational, would be more fitting. The Hoosiers passed on an opportunity three years ago to play in that third-rate tournament, but making the NIT is no given, as Indiana figures to need another victory to feel safe about a spot in that 32-team field.

* The Hoosiers have two creators right now in Blackmon and Newkirk, two guys who can dribble, pass and shoot. Robert Johnson was a ghost Tuesday, finishing with just four points, nine below his average.

* Johnson is ordinarily a knockdown 3-point shooter. But he's in a 7-of-42 slump from long range. Put down the calculator. It's 16.6 percent.

* The conference tournament, ever since the Big Ten expanded to 14 teams, includes a play-in round featuring the bottom four seeds. That will take place March 8 and likely include the Hoosiers. If the season ended Wednesday morning, Indiana would wake up the No. 12 seed and be headed for a matchup with Penn State, the current No. 13 seed. A lot can change, however, as the Hoosiers still have a chance to pass Nebraska and Ohio State in the standings.

* Props to Blackmon, who had 16 points and five assists. Only the second time in his career he's reached the magic number of five assists.

* Tim Priller performed respectably, and his insertion did not feel entirely owed to the foul trouble of Thomas Bryant and De'Ron Davis. At first, Indiana coach Tom Crean attempted to steal minutes with Juwan Morgan at center before eventually turning to the third-stringer Priller. But that makes back-to-back games where the junior Texan has seen meaningful action.

* "It's a great opportunity," Priller said. "If I go out there, I'm just going to try to fight as hard as I can for my teammates."