It was following the extravagant 22-point comeback against Illinois—Lohaus sizzled with 23 points and 12 boards—that the grumbling about the platooning stopped. "Guys would mutter, 'Whoa, I'm coming out already?' " says Moe. "After we won, it was, 'Hey, the guy knows what he's doing.' "
Did Dr. Tom foresee such success? "I didn't not foresee it," he says.
O.K. Did anybody foresee the problem Purdue coach Gene Keady created for himself when he scheduled a Sunday TV game with Louisville 29 hours before hosting Iowa on Jan. 19? Michigan coach Bill Frieder did, telling Keady last summer, "That will cost you the Big Ten title, you dumbass." And sure enough, it might. The Boilers' legs died at the end, and Iowa prevailed, 70-67.
But Keady, desperate as he is for the exposure, would do it again. "I never said we were smart," he laughs. Just damn solid: Over the last six seasons, Purdue and Indiana have the best records in the Big Ten, and Keady has brought parity to that storied rivalry. He was 6-6 against Knight before last week's rubber match. Despite that, Purdue is not only third in the league in total wins but also third in Indiana (Notre Dame won't play the Boilers home-and-home). Who knows where it ranks with the NCAA tournament committee. For the last two years Purdue has had to begin the tournament on its opponent's home court—and has lost both times.
This Dangerfieldian complex stays with Purdue like the cloud over Joe Btfsplk. Getting a victory in Blooming-ton last week was especially crucial for the Boilers, who needed to match the big twin road wins already scored by Indiana (at Ohio State and Michigan) and Iowa (at Illinois and Purdue).
Indiana didn't let them have it, and here's why: After 10 lead changes through the first 23 minutes, after the Purdue star, Mitchell, got his fourth foul and sat out most of the next eight minutes, after Indiana had forged a 65-59 lead that the T 'n' T boys should easily have been able to deflate but didn't, the wondrous Alford called for the ball and simply took over the contest.
Not only with the singular long-range missile, mind you. But with rebounds, loose-ball pickups, passing, playmaking and propelling himself into traffic where he could be fouled and convert the automatic two free throws. Alford's 13 of 15 from the line on Saturday made him 84 for 93 on the season (90%). In a 13-2 Indiana run, Alford made seven foul shots, one field goal, passed off for another and, maybe just for fun, missed still another so that underrated junior Steve Eyl could get fouled on the rebound and convert two freebies himself.
All this from a supposedly sick Alford, who had sat out practice the previous two days and who played, he said, "with chills from beginning to end."
A big chill cools the competition in the Big Ten? When you think of it—and you will as championship time approaches—remember that the most reliable constant in the granddaddy of all conferences is the grandest of guards at Indiana.