Purdue's incredible nontaking center, Joe Barry Carroll, scored a career-high 42 points tonight, leading the Boilermakers to a stunning 87-68 victory over Alabama in the semifinals of the National Invitation Tournament.
In the second half of the doubleheader at Madison Square Garden, Indiana slashed the tires under Ohio State's fast-break offense, slowing the tempo and winning, 64-55, in a defensive game.
The two Big Ten schools from Indiana will play for the NIT championship Wednesday night here, following the consolation game.
While Indiana's victory provided few frills or thrills, Carroll wowed the 14,632 fans with the greatest show on earth east of Magic Johnson.
Posting low and scoring at will on turn-around jumpers and hooks, the 7-foot-1 junior hit all eight of his shots in the first 20 minutes to pace Purdue to a 43-32 halftime lead and the Crimson Tide (21-11) never came closer than five points the rest of the way.
Borrowing a tactic of player of the year Larry Bird, Carroll scores plenty, talks none.
"I think all of you know that Joe has not been interviewed," Purdue Coach Lee Rose told a group of mostly Eastern writers who didn't know. "He would like to pick the time and the place.
"The most important thing on his mind is winning this tournament and I hope you can understand that. He played a great game, an exceptional game. If there is a beter center in the country, I'd like to see him play."
Carroll connected on 16 of his 19 shots from the floor and 10 of 15 free throws, outplaying two-time Southeast Conference player of the year Reggie King.
The massive Alabama forward scored 21 points but was virtually frozen out of the game by Purdue's 2-3 match-up zone at a time when Purdue (now 27-7) pulled away for good.
Trailing 23-21 with 7:06 left in the first half, Purdue outscored Alabama 22-9 the rest of the half. Carroll scored 12 points, guard Jerry Sichting had 10 and King had but one free throw in that spurt.
The zone sagged on King, and often the big man himself, Carroll, was muscling King's 230-pound frame out of the way.
As devastating as Carroll was, he did not win alone. Sichting, the slick shooting and dribbling senior, added 20 points. Purdue's defense, the stingiest in the Big Ten this season, held Alabama to 39.7 percent shooting.
With Carroll and Sichting hitting 25 of 32 shots, Purdue shot a sizzling 61 percent.
Indiana won its rubber match with Ohio State by controlling the tempo and playing patiently.The Hoosiers' man-to-man defense wore down the quick Buckeyes, who got 25 points from guard Kelvin Ransey and 14 points from center Herb Williams but precious little from anyone else.
'I told our team going into the game, that we would need all five people involved in the offense," said Ohio State Coach Eldon Miller. "That didn't happen."
Indiana's leading scorer. Mike Woodson (20 points) said, "We played a little tougher and a little smarter than we did the time we lost to them. We were more patient. We slowed things down and ran our offense well."
Ohio State trailed 28-25 at the half and never led or tied in the second. The Buckeyes (now 19-11) pulled to within 54-51 with 2:43 left on a Ransey baseline jumper.
Ransey and Williams missed their next shots and Indiana (21-12) quickly built the lead back to seven.
"We played well against St. Joe's and we played well against Maryland," said Miller. "But in those games we did not play against the defense we played tonight.
"And then any time a team is playing patiently and utilizing the clock, it makes it difficult to come back."