BLOOMINGTON – Purdue's dynamic offense proved too much for Indiana, carrying the Boilers to a commanding 74-62 victory on Saturday afternoon.
Purdue's first points came off a pair of 3-pointers from sophomore guard Eric Hunter Jr. After making three in his last game against Iowa, Hunter Jr. continued to shoot well from beyond the arc, and finished the game with 12 points and five rebounds.
Purdue's defense started off sloppy, committing three personal fouls allowing Indiana (15-8, 5-7) to score 3 of its first 7 points on free throws.
The Boilermakers (14-10, 7-6 Big Ten) racked up six personal fouls by the end of the first half.
While trailing for most of the game, the Hoosiers kept themselves in the first half with their own 3-point shooting and by out-rebounding the Boilermakers.
With four minutes to go in the first 20 minutes, the Hoosiers regained the lead, only for the score to be evened once again by a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Aaron Wheeler. Wheeler hit a second 3 on the next possession, making the score 31-28 with two and a half minutes to go in the half.
"It just hasn't worked for him shooting the basketball this year," head coach Matt Painter said. "For him to make one the other night against Iowa that was great to seem, then him making three today, that was a huge lift for our team."
Those shots were the beginning of what ended up being a 12-0 run for the Boilermakers, propelling them into halftime with a sizable lead.
"It was just fun, just being out there playing freely," Wheeler said. "Just executing offensively and getting stops."
Wheeler, who had been struggling shooting from deep for most of the season, went 3-3 from beyond the arc and finished with 11 points.
"Coach is always saying 'just keep doing the little things, shots gonna fall,'" Wheeler said, "so I just try to contribute other things when my shot (isn't) falling, but it was good too see a couple go in."
Freshman guard Isaiah Thompson showed success from 3 as well, hitting two early in the second half.
With 9 minutes left in the game, the Hoosier offense went on a run of their own, scoring 7 unanswered to bring the lead down to 6 points. That run was finally stopped by senior center Matt Haarms with a highly contested layup.
"We allowed the ball in the paint too much," Painter said. "Any time you let Indiana get the basketball in the paint, they're more effective."
Purdue came back with a 9-0 run later in the half, highlighted by offensive efforts from sophomore guard Sasha Stefanovic and senior forward Evan Boudreaux.
"When he subbed back in in the second half he did a great job," Painter said about Boudreaux. "His two offensive rebounds were huge, that pushed the game away. Now they get stops, and now instead of getting the ball and getting in transition, he's getting the ball."
The final minutes featured little action, as Indiana struggled to overcome Purdue's commanding lead. In the end, the Boilermakers continued to make free throws as they sealed their road victory over their rivals.
"Of course you have confidence at home," Hunter Jr. said, "but I think you get the most confidence in road wins. I think it'll be good for us down the road, we got a couple of tough games coming up so it just helps us prepare for those."
Not only was the day dedicated to the Purdue-Indiana rivalry, but it also honored legendary Indiana head coach Bob Knight, who made his return to Assembly hall at halftime. While emotions were running high in the atmosphere, Painter did not let it affect him or his team.
"It wasn't something we talked about," Painter said. "I thought it was irrelevant. Whether they were doing that or not, the crowd is still gonna be loud."
Former Purdue coach Gene Keady was also in attendance.
"We had coach Keady sitting on our bench," Haarms said. "That's the guy I care about. That's the guy I want behind my bench every time. Whatever happens at halftime doesn't matter to me."
Purdue will come back home on Tuesday to take on No. 22 Penn State (18-5, 8-4) at 6:30 p.m. in Mackey Arena.
• Purdue improved to 14-10 overall and 7-6 in the Big Ten Conference with a 74-62 win over Indiana at Assembly Hall … the win was Purdue's third straight, matching a season-best winning streak.
• Purdue has now won six games in a row and nine of the last 10 contests against Indiana … Purdue has won four straight games at Assembly Hall, the second-longest winning streak by any team EVER in Assembly Hall history (Wisconsin – 5; 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013).
• Purdue's 12-point victory is the largest victory in Assembly Hall since 1977 (80-63 margin) … it's the second largest margin of victory by Purdue in facility history.
• All nine Purdue players that saw action scored at least five points … Eric Hunter Jr., led the team with 12 points.
• Purdue went 8 of 16 from long range and is now 27 of 50 (.540) from 3-point range in the last two games.
• Purdue improved to 156-16 under Matt Painter when shooting at least 48.0 percent from the field.
• Purdue is 33-1 since the start of last year when shooting a higher field goal percentage than its opponent.
• Purdue has won 13 straight games against Indiana when holding the Hoosiers to 69 or fewer points.
• Purdue has won seven straight games in the month of February.
• Purdue's sophomore class scored 39 points … the Boilermakers are 12-4 this year when the group reaches 30 points.
• Purdue's bench went 12 of 18 from the field and 5 of 6 from long range for 33 points.
• In the last two games, Aaron Wheeler is 8 of 9 from the field and 4 of 5 from 3-point range, scoring 20 points in 33 minutes.
– Purdue Athletics Communications contributed to this report.