The Indiana Hoosiers started out cold in The Barn but were able to get hot enough to defeat the Minnesota Golden Gophers 70-63. The Hoosiers (15-3, 5-0) found themselves in a nine-point hole early in the first half but were able to tie it up before halftime before ultimately winning a back-and-forth battle with the Golden Gophers (6-12, 0-6) in the second half. IU will try to improve upon this performance when Indiana hosts Illinois at 7pm this Tuesday. For now, let’s take a look at three things that really stood out to me as the Hoosiers improved to 5-0 in Big Ten play:
- Williams and Johnson Struggle Scoring Again: Both Troy Williams and Rob Johnson are good scorers but this season they haven’t been consistently good. James Blackmon Jr’s scoring made up for those games when neither Williams nor Johnson were feeling it offensively, but with Blackmon Jr. gone the Hoosiers have really struggled at times when they don’t get much from Williams and Johnson. On Saturday, those two combined for just nine points (seven for Williams, two for Johnson) as the Hoosiers scored a measly 70 points against a Minnesota team that had already given up 86 points to Penn State and 84 points to Nebraska. IU was still able to muster up enough points to beat Minnesota but against the elite teams in the Big Ten, the Hoosiers will need either Williams or Johnson (or maybe both) to be offensive threats for Indiana to have a chance to win those games.
- Zeisloft Finding His Stroke Again: To say Nick Zeisloft was in a shooting slump would have been an understatement. In the four Big Ten games before Saturday, Zeisloft was shooting a disastrous 4 of 25 (16.0%) from three-point range. However, in a game where many Hoosiers were struggling to make baskets, Zeisloft chose the perfect time to get out of his slump as he made 5 of 8 (62.5%) from deep against the Golden Gophers, including four in a row. Zeisloft, who shot 45.0% from long range last season, has actually been struggling for longer than just the Big Ten season. After a November where he made 18 of 33 (54.5%) from deep, Zeisloft has only made 12 of 40 (30.0%) over his last ten games (six of which were non-conference games) before this Saturday. Hopefully for the Hoosiers, Saturday was the day he found his shooting touch again.
- Yogi Ferrell Deserves More Attention In “Player Of The Year” Discussions: There are a lot of deserving candidates for not only the Wooden Award but also Big Ten Player Of The Year, but Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell should at least be acknowledged for both. Ferrell’s stats against Minnesota (20 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists, and 2 steals) tells just how pivotal he was for the Hoosiers to be able to win, but the amazing thing is that these stats are becoming a common occurrence. Since the loss of Blackmon Jr, Ferrell has averaged a ridiculous 19.8 points, 4.0 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 1.8 steals as he has led the Hoosiers to a 5-0 conference start. He’s also made most of his big plays in the second half when his team has needed a big play. Sure the turnovers are a little high (2.8 per game on the season and 3.8 during the last five games without JBJ), but there are few players in college basketball that mean more to their teams and he should start getting recognized for it.