Late surge propels Indiana past Purdue in alumni game

Indiana rallied from a double-digit hole to beat Purdue at the Knox Indy Pro Am.

Leading up the second annual Indiana and Purdue alumni game, there had been lots of chatter. There always is when two rivals get together. And it continues throughout the year.

“You never like to lose to the Boilermakers so we kind of took it personal,” said IU’s Christian Watford.

The Indiana squad trailed by six points at intermission, and rallied from a double-digit deficit to take the game, 116-113, and thus bragging rights for the next year.

Click here to see the box score

Indiana outscored Purdue 28-13 over the final five minutes with back-to-back triples from Jordan Hulls on the right wing putting the Hoosiers ahead for good. A few possessions later, Watford picked the ball away from David Teague with under 10 seconds to play and Hulls missed a pair of free throws. Still down by just three, Purdue’s Terone Johnson was whistled for an offensive foul at mid-court with less than two seconds remaining and the Hoosiers ended up on top.

Hulls and Watford teamed up late, running pick-and-rolls four straight trips on the right side. Watford led the Hoosiers with 30 points, 15 in each half. Hulls missed his first seven 3-point attempts, but it was those two deep shots late that were essential to IU’s win.

“I didn’t shoot very well at all,” said Hulls, who finished with 25 points on 11-of-19 shooting. “I got all points at the rim honestly, and that never really happens. I was able to hit two big (3s) at the end.”

Related: Photo gallery from the game

Christian Watford drives in before settling for a fadeaway jumper.

Rod Wilmont tallied 28 points, Derek Elston had 12 and Devin Dumas added 10.

Each of the players I spoke to after that game said the rivalry is very real, and even as recent alums they feel it. Johnson said the two sides were talking trash throughout the week and then again down in the locker room prior to the game.

“It’s just fun to not only come out here and play in this atmosphere,” he said, “but to also play with dudes that I didn’t get to play with at Purdue. So it was pretty fun for me.”

One of those guys Johnson was referring to is 31-year-old David Teague, who had 30 points by halftime and finished with a game-high 47 and 14 rebounds.

“You feel it,” Teague said of the rivalry. “Anytime you see that other team suiting up against you, whether you’re watching it on TV, you’re on the sidelines, or you’re playing even in a charity or pick-up game, you feel the intensity and you want to play to win.”

Teague was special on the night, hitting 16 of 33 shots fired, including eight from long range. He was stopped late, and credited Watford’s defense.

“He played some good defense in the second half,” Teague said of Watford. “He really got up on me. I thought he was going to back up a little bit. He got up on me and made me hesitate a little bit and caused the turnover. Unfortunately, I didn’t pull through for my team but it was a fun. I had a lot of fun today.”

Purdue turned the ball over 18 times to Indiana’s six.

The series, played as part of the Knox Indy Pro Am, is now tied at a game apiece. About 700 fans, probably 80 percent cheering for IU, were in attendance for the game at IUPUI. A couple of tweets I received from older ex-IU players were interesting. Perhaps they’ll show up next year…

Other players on hand were Matt Roth, Daniel Moore and Raphael Smith for Indiana – and D.J. Byrd, Errick Peck, Mark Wohlford and Bobby Riddell for Purdue.

“It was fun to get to play with these guys again,” said Hulls. “I miss it a lot. It’s a lot different ball game once you’re out of college. It’s a good atmosphere, awesome for the fans to come out and see us play together once again and be able to play Purdue on the court is pretty competitive, but off the court, it’s a good thing for everybody.”

Player updates —

He’s still hoping for an opportunity in the league. He played in the NBA Summer League with both Detroit and Golden State. For now, he’s been back and forth between Maryland, where his agent is based and he works out, and Indiana.

“I plan on going to training camp with an NBA team. If that don’t work out, if I get cut or something, then I might look at overseas or something. But right now, my main option is try to get in the NBA.”

“It’s all about the right fit. You got to get with the right program. I’m constantly working to stretch the floor, getting to the basket, and posting up smaller defenders.”

On Summer League: “It went well. I played pretty well in Detroit. With the minutes I was given, I felt like I played well. And Golden State went well (in Las Vegas) as well. I just got there a little late. They had already played like two games when I got there.”

He spent last season in Poland, and while he hasn’t finalized plans for this upcoming year, he’s looking to end up in Italy, Germany, or back in Poland.

A number of former Hoosiers were back in Bloomington and Cook Hall this past week. Cody Zeller, Will Sheehey, Watford, Hulls and Jeff Howard.

“It’s hard to get away from Bloomington. I tried to tell people that when they came there. You’ll always want to end up coming back and visiting, at least.”

He played in Malta last season and won’t be doing that again. He plans to continue playing overseas.

The oldest player at Saturday’s rivalry rematch remains in Indy to work out and is planning to go back overseas. Last year he played in Columbia and he’s hopeful to now play in either Germany or Israel. After the upcoming year, his eighth playing overseas, he’s wanting to latch on a Summer League team, which is essentially an interview for all 30 teams. They’re all keeping a close eye on who stands out.

He had a son this summer.

He is hoping to have a deal with a team overseas done soon. Offers are there, but it’s important to get a safe, reliable one – and one that can help him be better.

“Basically just trying to sort through them, negotiating contracts and stuff like that. I have a couple offers. [My agent] is just trying to get the best deal to put me in the best position to do what I have to do.”

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