Boilermakers/Hoosiers Claim Crossroads Final Games

Crossroads Classic

Shawn Martin

ExcelHSports Columnist


   The final edition of the popular annual Crossroads Classic basketball event in Indianapolis commenced Saturday afternoon December 18th in Gainbridge Fieldhouse pairing Purdue and Butler, followed by IU and Notre Dame in men’s basketball.


   Purdue thoroughly dominated an under-manned Butler team (7-4) enroute to a 77-48 win and moved to 10-1 on the season. In the second game Indiana (9-2) and Notre Dame (4-5) went back and forth for most of the game before the Hoosiers finally put the Irish away 64-56.


   In the opener, the Boilermakers began to put significant distance between themselves and the Butler Bulldogs midway through the first half.  Butler’s Aaron Thompson made a layup with 10:25 left in the opening half which made the score 14-13 Purdue. Over the next almost eight minutes of game clock, Purdue would go on a game deciding 20-3 barrage. Included in that was a five and a half minute scoring drought by Butler which put the third ranked Boilers up 34-16 with 2:02 remining in the half. Purdue would take a 39-21 lead to the locker room.


   The Bulldogs again went cold for a significant stretch midway through the second half – this time going 5:22 without a point scored by the Butler team. The Purdue lead swelled to 32 points and all that was left to determine was the final margin.


Sophomore All-American Jaden Ivey was again spectacular in scoring 22 points to lead the Boilers in the scoring column.  In 25 minutes, Ivey shot 70% from the field – including six of six from three-point range – and also contributed five rebounds, two assists, and a steal.  Seven-foot four inch Zach Edey came off the bench and had a Double-Double at halftime. It was the first time this season that Edey has come off the bench, and that senior pre-season All American Trevion Williams started for the Boilers.


“ Zach has had some struggles starting the game.” Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter said of the move.  “The way Trevion played (against) North Carolina State, that factor is the reason for the decision. Trevion’s ability to pass can maybe help a couple of those guys starting.”  Williams did fight foul trouble for much of the game, but did score 10 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists in 18 minutes of play. Seven players for Purdue had at least six points.


  The Bulldogs were missing three significant pieces including starting forward Bryce Nze, wing Bo Hodges, and leading scorer Chuck Harris. The Bulldogs four-game winning streak was over.  Bryce Golden led Butler with 17 while freshman Jayden Taylor added 11.


   Purdue’s size and depth advantage was more pronounced than maybe it would have been with those three Bulldogs out – but as the Boilermakers have shown so far this season, hardly any team can match them on those two traits.  “They’ve cornered the market on elite size, and they’ve all gotten better and developed over time” Butler Head Coach LaVall Jordan said.  “It’s hard to keep them away from the basket.”


   In the second game, Notre Dame built a 17-10 lead during the opening ten plus minutes of the game. Shortly after, Dane Goodwin nailed a three to increase the lead to 8, 21-13. The Hoosiers battled back some before freshman Blake Wesley hit a three with 4:41 left in the opening stanza to put the Irish up 27-22. That would be the last points scored by Notre Dame in the first half. IU would score eight unanswered to take a 30-27 halftime lead.


   Notre Dame would go almost another two whole minutes scoreless to open the second half. They didn’t end then either. Hoosier guard Cooper Kopp scored five points in 40 seconds on two shots and extended the Hoosier lead to 8 points, 37-29 with 16:52 left in the game. After another Irish basket, IU’s Xavier Johnson nailed a three with 15:48 left to raise the margin to nine, 40-31.


   A Trace Jackson-Davis dunk with 11:53 remaining gave the Hoosiers a 45-35 advantage. IU would score one point during the next five minutes, and the Irish stormed back to tie the game at 46 with 8:02 left. With IU clinging to a 49-47 lead, IU senior guard Robert Phinisee hit probably the biggest shot of the game – a three-pointer from the wing with 4:27 left to put the Hoosiers up 52-47 and forcing a Notre Dame timeout.  IU hit five of seven free throws over the last 1:41 to seal the win.


    “I was struggling to find offense tonight” IU Head Coach Mike Woodson lamented, “but we made the plays down the stretch that we needed to make in terms of securing the game.”


   Each team had 14 turnovers for the game, but Notre Dame’s seemed to come at the wrong time and stymie their offense at critical times. “The turnovers against full-court pressure changed the whole complexion” long time Notre Dame head coach Mike Brey said afterward.  “I’m disappointed for our guys because I thought we were ready to play and playing well, but you’ve got to be good and strong with the ball.”


   As usual, IU’s Jackson-Davis was the catalyst for the Hoosiers. He recorded his 26th Double-Double of his IU career – this one 17 points and 12 boards.  34 points came in balance between three starters – Parker Stewart (12) and Race Thompson and Johnson (11 each) gave the Hoosiers the scoring balance they needed.  Goodwin led three double figure scorers for Notre Dame with 15. Wesley added 14, and Paul Atkinson finished with 11.


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