Purdue has jumped to the top of the Big Ten standings after surviving a low-scoring, rock fight edition of its in-state rivalry against Indiana, escaping Assembly Hall with a 48-46 win against the Hoosiers.
It was the worst combined shooting performance of the evening and one of the uglier games that we'll get in the Big Ten all season. Purdue finished the game shooting 31.7 percent from the field (19-for-60) while Indiana checked in at 27.8 percent (15-for-54). The two teams combined to make just 11 of 54 three point attempts and only two players in the entire game -- Purdue's Ryan Cline (11 points) and Indiana's Romeo Langford (14 points) -- scored in double figures.
With all the bricks in this game it's fitting that the contest was decided on an offensive rebound. Matt Haarms' putback with three seconds left wound up being the game-winning bucket after Juwan Morgan's three-point attempt at the buzzer fell short.
The victory moves the Boilermakers to 12-3 in conference play and completes a season sweep of Indiana, marking the fifth straight victory in a series that Matt Painter's program has owned in recent years with eight wins in the last nine meetings. Purdue is now tied with Michigan and Michigan State for first place in the Big Ten, with both teams still having their respective midweek games -- the Spartans against Rutgers at home on Wednesday and the Wolverines at Minnesota on Thursday -- left to play before Michigan State and Michigan meet in Ann Arbor this weekend.
The grind of conference play in the Big Ten has separated Purdue from other teams like Iowa, Wisconsin and Maryland -- all teams that have showed flashes of top-tier contention at the league level -- as the consistency that has been a defining quality of this program under Matt Painter provides the foundation for surviving life in a deep conference. Even when it's been impossible to hit shots all night, everyone still trusts when the ball is in Edwards' hands, as he showed with a clutch basket despite his 4-for-24 shooting night.
For Indiana, the loss is a devastating blow to postseason hopes that continue to fade with each loss. Quality wins against Marquette, Louisville and at Michigan State provide the Hoosiers some great tie-breakers in NCAA Tournament bubble decisions, but given recent results it's just as likely that this team will find itself seeing its bubble burst, and not making the field of 68, but rather the NIT's field of 32. A challenging year for Archie Miller nearly had a highlight for the home fans with a rivalry win, but instead the Hoosiers left Assembly Hall with a disappointing feeling that's becoming all too familiar.