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Michael Durr: 'That Was the Biggest Game I've Ever Been a Part Of' Against Purdue

With Trayce Jackson-Davis out of the equation because of foul trouble, Michael Durr had the best of of his Indiana career on Thursday night when the Hoosiers beat Purdue for the first time in nearly six years. He stayed ready, even while not playing much, and came through when the Hoosiers really needed him.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Purdue has a plan on how to beat teams, and it starts and finishes with getting 40 minutes of great center play every night from Zach Edey and Trevion Williams. 

That plan has worked well for Purdue coach Matt Painter this season. The Boilermakers have been ranked in the top-seven all year long, peaked at No. 1 and still are a serious Final Four threat.

But on Thursday night, Indiana had a plan, too. And it got thrown right out the window in a matter of minutes.

Indiana's Trayce Jackson-Davis was set to battle Purdue's twin towers, because he's done it before. Edey, a 7-foot-4 sophomore, and Williams, a 6-foot-10 senior, combine to average 30 points and 16 rebounds a game. There was also some concern with his health, since Jackson-Davis missed the final seven minutes of Monday's game at Nebraska after taking a bad fall on his tailbone.

But the standout junior was in foul trouble all night, playing only 11 minutes. The plan was to use backup 7-foot center Michael Durr some, but he got thrown into the wildfire instead, playing a season-high 24 minutes.

All from a guys who had played only 23 minutes COMBINED in Indiana's last five games.

“That was crazy. That was the biggest game that I’ve ever been a part of in my life,” Durr said of the 68-65 win over Purdue at Assembly Hall. “That’s the first time I’ve ever been a part of that. It was fun. That was a memorable day, I will always remember that day in my life.”

Durr scored just four points, but he shut down Edey and Williams. Edey had 12 points, Williams just two — less than half of their average. In the second half, they only had three points total. 

“I’m always ready to play, and I got the opportunity,” Durr said Saturday as part of the preview for Sunday's game with Michigan. “I defended and made things tough for their bigs. Zach and Trevion are both good, and we watched a lot of film on them. And, I just wanted to make everything tough because they’re the horses of the team.

“Honestly, it was making them catch the ball where it wouldn’t be easy. One, to make them catch the ball far away from the basket because we didn’t feel they were comfortable enough to make plays when they’re far away. So, we wanted to push them out,” he said of the game plan.

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It will be interesting to see how minutes get disbursed at the center position going forward, now that Durr has proven himself in a big way against Purdue. There's another challenge on Sunday, with 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson at Michigan. 

“I’m always excited for any matchup with any big that’s pretty good,” Durr said of his facing off with Dickinson. “We don’t want to make that a continuous thing, getting big wins and then losing. We just don’t want to do that, so we’re trying to stack games on top of each other and stay consistent.”

Indiana coach Mike Woodson has been adamant about not playing Jackson-Davis and Durr together, and those 24 minutes of playing time were because of the foul trouble. He held his own, and helped Indiana go on a run early.

Jackson-Davis played the final few minutes and had two huge defensive stops on Williams and Ivey, and then made two free throws to make it 68-65. A forced three-pointer late went awry for Purdue, and the Hoosiers had their first win over the Boilers in nearly six years.

"I was just buying time,'' Woodson said. "Mike was buying us some good positive minutes, and I was just hoping that (Jackson-Davis) wouldn't pick up his fifth foul. They went inside, and he got a major stop. We rebounded the ball, but he made the winning plays that we needed him to make in those 11 minutes.''

Durr is one of four transfers on Indiana's team this year, coming in from South Florida in Tampa, where he was a starter for three years. Point guard Xavier Johnson, who came in from Pitt, kept him pumped up all week, knowing he was going to be needed.

"Before the game I told Mike, actually, it's going to be your day, and you know how Trayce was actually feeling, so Mike was actually going to be ready to play,'' Johnson said. "Coach told him that he was going to go to him and be ready. For a player not to play as much as he has been in the past and to come out here and compete with those guys in the top five team in the nation, it shows a lot.''

Indiana guard Rob Phinisee has seen Durr's growth as well. 

"Big Mike, you see just his spirit in practice, really,'' Phinisee said. "He came from a program where he played 20, 30 minutes a game and then he hasn't really been playing that much because we have Trayce Jackson-Davis. 

"Him just staying ready, coming in and guarding and just his spark, that was big for us. The little mid-range (jumper) he hit was huge, and just his energy and leadership he brings to the table is really big for us.''