IU’s defense comes up short in loss to Purdue on Saturday

Joey Brunk passes ball from sidelines

Junior center Joey Brunk passes the ball from the sidelines against Purdue on Feb. 8 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Brunk made 8 of IU’s 62 points. (Alex Deryn)

Former IU men’s basketball coach Bob Knight yelled two words as he stood on the hardwood court of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall at halftime.

“Play defense!”

It was Knight’s first appearance within the walls of Assembly Hall, where he coached for 29 years, since he was fired in 2000. Despite his infamy, the Hoosiers ignored Knight’s advice. They did not play defense.

The Hoosiers’ defense broke down in the final minutes of the first half and allowed multiple runs in the second. IU dropped its fourth straight game Saturday afternoon and sixth in a row to Purdue in the 74-62 defeat.

“Really just little things that hurt us,” freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said. “We would string a few stops together, and maybe we didn’t make a shot on one end and then they got it on the other. It’s really hard to play catch up in the second half. They did a really good job holding the lead.”

IU gave up a 12-0 run heading into halftime. It was a run that sucked all the energy out of the crowd. Jackson-Davis took advantage of the matchups he was given but IU’s defense didn’t match his effort. The Hoosiers had 10 turnovers, which resulted in 12 points for the Boilermakers.

Purdue guard Aaron Wheeler was 3-3 from beyond the arc in the first half as IU failed to get back and defend the 3-point line on multiple occasions.

“We got off to a decent start,” IU men’s basketball coach Archie Miller said. “But our turnovers in the first half really killed momentum. And their run at the end of the half was really a deflating deal.”

The Hoosiers found some success offensively in the second half, but their efforts on the defensive end wouldn’t help them regain the lead.

Every time IU found some type of spark and cut the lead, Purdue answered with a made shot or strung together multiple defensive stops to regain momentum.

The Hoosiers made it a 6-point game with 9:03 remaining, but that’s the closest they would get. The Boilermakers went on a 9-0 run to stretch the lead to 15 points with 4:02 left. At that point, fans started heading for the exits. The game was all but over.

It was another Big Ten loss that came as a result of bad defensive play.

Knight’s teams were known for their strong defense, and Saturday afternoon, he witnessed a game where the Hoosiers couldn’t rely on theirs to come through.

“I’m disappointed for our players,” Miller said. “I’m disappointed for our fans. I’m disappointed for everyone that came back for the reunion. And I’ll take full responsibility for the loss today.”