BLOOMINGTON — It was No. 200 in the Purdue-Indiana rivalry, but the only thing that concerned fans at Assembly Hall on Saturday was No. 4.
That would be Hoosiers guard Victor Oladipo, who was helped off the court and into the locker room with 46 seconds left in the first half.
The only silence that penetrated the building came after Oladipo turned his left ankle as he attempted to block a shot.
The thought of playing any long stretches without the Oscar Robertson Trophy finalist would not be very appealing.
While Indiana (23-3 overall, 11-2 Big Ten) took care of business in the second half as it hammered out an 83-55 victory, Oladipo did not return to the court. That looms large as No. 1 Indiana heads into a showdown Tuesday at No. 8 Michigan State with first place in the conference at stake.
“I would say that it’s precautionary and day-to-day,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean, who evened his coaching record at IU at 78-78. “I didn’t think any of us were comfortable enough to say ‘Let’s go do it.’”
Crean said whether Oladipo can go do it Tuesday will depend on how his ankle responds during the next “24 to 36 hours.”
The Hoosiers responded well after Oladipo’s injury.
“I got excited,” Indiana forward Will Sheehey said tongue-in-cheek about Oladipo’s injury. “I got to play more.
“But he’s fine.”
Oladipo emerged from the locker room at the 17:25 mark of the second half to a standing ovation. To be fair, the fans were standing most of the game anyway. It was, after all, Purdue.
Even so, there was a roar in the arena upon his return and a collective sigh of relief. Oladipo worked his way through some fans behind his bench to a stationary bicycle and executed some road work with a big smile on his face.
He could afford to relax as the Boilermakers (12-14, 5-8) never mounted much of a threat. Oladipo, who had three points and five rebounds in a half of work, did not appear to be experiencing any discomfort as he moved around easily while high-fiving his teammates.
Indiana carved out a 41-29 first half lead and extended it easily in the second half.
“It’s next man up,” said Sheehey, who scored a career-high 22 points on nine of nine shooting in 27 minutes. “It’s been like that since we got here.”
It took the Hoosiers 200 games and 112 years to notch a milestone win in the series. Purdue had won the first game of the series in 1901 (23-19), along with No. 50 (28-15), No. 100 (79-76) and No. 150 (75-64).
Even without Oladipo for a half, the Hoosiers had too much firepower for Purdue
Indiana’s other Oscar Robertson candidate, Cody Zeller, dominated in the paint and
finished with 19 points and nine rebounds. Like Oladipo, Zeller has earned a special place in the hearts of the Assembly Hall fans. As one sign proclaimed, “Zeller for Pope.”
Indiana didn’t need any divine intervention as it took control right from the start as Christian Watford (three for three) and Jordan Hulls (three for four) hit six of their first seven 3-pointers. The Hoosiers were simply better in almost every facet of the game.
Terone Johnson and Anthony Johnson each had 11 points for Purdue.
Indiana has won the last four games of the series after losing the previous five. “The first two years were tough,” said Watford, who is a senior. “But this feels pretty good, especially the way we’ve been doing it.”