March 4, 2012
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) - Indiana had its priorities set Sunday. Win first, then party.
The Hoosiers did both.
Christian Watford scored 19 points and Will Sheehey added 16, leading No. 18 Indiana to an 85-74 victory over archrival Purdue on Senior Day.
The Hoosiers (24-7, 11-7 Big Ten) finished the season with an 18-1 home record, five wins over ranked teams and three against clubs ranked in the top 5. Indiana also swept Purdue for the first time since 2005-06.
Purdue (20-11, 10-8) was trying to win its third straight in Bloomington for the first time since 1968-71, but it fell behind early and never caught up. Lewis Jackson had 17 points and Robbie Hummel added 16 points for the Boilermakers, who had a three-game winning streak snapped.
Indiana wasn't going to let anything get in the way of a celebration for these seniors, who had endured everything form the agony of a six-win season to the joy of upsetting the nation's No. 1 team in December.
And for the second straight game, the Hoosiers never let their opponent get within a single possession after the opening minutes.
Indiana's crisp, accurate passes allowed the Hoosiers to break out to a 15-6 lead, and they never slowed down. A 10-0 spurt midway through the first half gave Indiana a 28-13 lead, prompting Purdue coach Matt Painter to call his second timeout.
That didn't work, either.
When Jordan Hulls knocked down a 3-pointer with 1:50 left in the half, the Hoosiers led 44-27. Six players had at least six points by halftime, helping Indiana take a 49-34 advantage against a defense that had been allowing 64.8 points per game this season.
It didn't look as though things would change much in the second half, either. Indiana extended the lead to 58-40 on Cody Zeller's breakaway dunk with 13:58 to go.
But just when it appeared Indiana would cruise to an easy victory, the Boilermakers finally rallied. They used an 8-1 run to get within 59-48, then scored eight straight points to cut Indiana's rebuilt lead to 65-58 on D.J. Byrd's 3-pointer with 6:00 left.
Indiana answered with two free throws from Watford, another from Zeller and a 3 from Sheehey to make it 71-58 with 3:58 to play.
And after Purdue closed to 77-71 with 1:18 left, Indiana sealed the victory by making eight of 10 free throws. That gave the five seniors who helped rebuild the Indiana program a chance to finish the final 22.4 seconds together - drawing the loudest ovation of the day.
"They've played very well twice against us, and I think they're getting back to being one of the top-tier programs in the Big Ten," Purdue forward Robbie Hummel said after scoring 16 points. "I know they've had some down years, but they have some good players."
Indiana also honored those who died in the recent swarm of tornadoes in southern Indiana with a moment of silence before the national anthem.