Indiana’s NCAA Tournament Hopes Look Grim After Home Loss To Michigan

When the NCAA Selection Committee showed their top 16 teams this weekend, a grim reality sunk in for the Big Ten. None of the top three teams (Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland) were among those top 16, showing that the Selection Committee does not think highly of the Big Ten this season.

That’s why it was so important for Indiana to beat fellow bubble team Michigan at home. Instead, the Hoosiers lost and now look at the realistic situation of needing to win the rest of their regular season games just to have a chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Unlike the last two losses (at Wisconsin/vs Purdue) where the Hoosiers battled a top team in the conference and fell just short, IU never really gave Michigan much of a battle as the Wolverines scored the first basket and never let Indiana take the lead once. Michigan led by as many as 13 while the Hoosiers never got closer than six points in the second half.

Thomas Bryant, who had averaged 20.2 points over his last five games, was constantly doubled as he was limited to just eight points, five rebounds, and three blocks. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers had a difficult time turning the double team to their advantage and getting the ball to the open man, as Indiana again committed 15 turnovers that led to 20 points for Michigan.

The one person who did step up was De’Ron Davis. Two days removed from taking a shot to the face that made him miss most of the second half against Purdue, Davis was the only Hoosier able to take advantage of Bryant’s double-team as he scored a team-high 13 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including 5 of 6 from the free throw line.

“He played very well considering shot that he took (against Purdue),” said Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean. “And we’ve got to continue to play him more. He’s not as great in the ball screens so that sometimes limits (his minutes). But he’s very, very hard to guard and he’s got great feet, great hands and great eyes.”

Crean was really frank about his team’s performance, saying his team needs to get easier shots on offense and has to play with the same intensity as when shots do go in the basket. He was especially frustrated with the team’s consistent overhelping on defense.

“It makes no sense to be coming off the corners the way that we are with what we have out there. That’s not what we do. We guard the ball. We don’t overhelp because it’s teams like Michigan that can shoot the ball so well.”

Crean also talked about everyone on the team needing to improve communication, including himself.

“It’s very easy to be locked in and connected to one another when the shots are going, but when they aren’t going is when real leadership’s got to emerge. And I’m not shirking the responsibility one iota. One thing I’ve learned in nine years it all falls on me. But the bottom line is that we’ve got to do something to get communication up.”

“We still have a season left to play,” said Robert Johnson about his team at this moment. “So we’re not even thinking about quitting. We always look forward to the next game. Now we’re just looking forward to getting better and moving on to the next game. And that’s another opportunity.


With Indiana probably needing to win out to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, here is a breakdown of the final five games:

  • February 15 – at Minnesota
  • February 21 – at Iowa
  • February 25 – vs Northwestern
  • February 28 – at Purdue
  • March 4 – at Ohio State

The problem with Indiana’s remaining schedule is it’s difficulty level. The slate of teams may not all be at the top of the Big Ten standings, but that doesn’t matter when you realize the Hoosiers have struggled heavily on the road this season, going 1-5 so far with the one win coming via a James Blackmon Jr. buzzer-beater at Penn State.

There’s also the fact that other than beating Purdue in West Lafayette, none of the other potential wins would be huge resume-building wins. Iowa and Ohio State are likely going to the NIT, and while Minnesota and Northwestern would be nice wins, neither is guaranteed to be in the NCAA Tournament and both would likely take a hit to their resumes if they did lose to Indiana.

Basically the formula for Indiana to have a shot come Selection Sunday is to get a huge win at Purdue and pad the overall record by avoiding anymore losses. It will be a tough road ahead, but if Johnson is right and this team isn’t quitting, they still have chance no matter how small.

Despite Bryant’s Best Effort, Indiana’s Offense Unable To Outscore Purdue

The Indiana Hoosiers held the Purdue Boilermakers, the Big Ten’s best three-point shooting team, to just 28.6% from behind the arc. The Hoosiers grabbed the same number of rebounds (35 each) and even kept the turnovers fairly close (14 to 12).

Yet despite all that, the Hoosiers again failed to gain another resume-building win as they lost to Purdue 69-64 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday night.

The main cause for the loss was an unproductive offense. The usually potent IU offense struggled as Indiana shot 38.6% from the floor and 33.3% from behind the arc. In fact it’s not just this game as Indiana (averaging 81.3 points per game on the season) has averaged just 69.8 points over the last five games. When you take into account that one of those games was a triple overtime game where the Hoosiers scored 110 points against Penn State, those scoring numbers look even worse (for reference, the Hoosiers have averaged 59.8 points in the other four games)

It’s no secret that the “injury bug” has bitten the Hoosiers hard this year, but this game more than any of the last five games showed how short-handed the Hoosiers are at the moment.

  • Despite getting James Blackmon Jr. back from a leg injury, Blackmon very rarely looked like himself as he struggled with his shot all night, finishing 3 of 14  from the floor including 1 of 7 from deep.
  • Juwan Morgan, who’s playing while still injured, started strong but got into foul trouble and didn’t score after halftime.
  • Devonte Green, who had been playing well replacing Blackmon in the starting lineup, was limited to five minutes due to getting a back spasm lifting weights earlier in the week.
  • On top of all that, De’Ron Davis took a shot to the face early in the second half and missed the rest of the game.

Perhaps Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter explained it best as to why injuries really played a huge role in Indiana’s loss.

“You have to understand that Indiana doesn’t have a lot of their guys,” said Painter. “Collin Hartman is a good player, he affects winning and OG (Anunoby) is a really good player, so now when they get into foul trouble (like they did tonight) it’s not normal foul trouble, now it’s two guys are out, one just came back from injury and then you have a couple of guys in foul trouble.”

The one shining light, and the reason Indiana had a chance of actually winning the game was Thomas Bryant.

After being held in check in the first half due to foul trouble, Bryant singlehandedly carried the Hoosiers in the second half, scoring 17 of the Hoosiers’ 28 second half points. He finished with 23 points on 8 of 12 shooting, 3 of 4 from three-point range. Over the last five games, Bryant has averaged 20.2 points on an eye-popping 68.4% (39 of 57) shooting.

So when the controversial “blarge” was called with 44 seconds left (What’s a blarge? Well one referee called a blocking foul while the other called a charging foul, so the refs copped out and called a double foul. It’s okay if that definition  just confuses you more because honestly it confuses me too.),  Indiana’s fate was sealed as Thomas Bryant picked up his fifth foul.

If Bryant can keep up this level of production and can get some help from his teammates that are either not 100% yet (Blackmon, Morgan) or are wildly inconsistent as of late (Josh Newkirk, Rob Johnson), then the Hoosiers can still make the NCAA Tournament. But with six games left in the regular season, time is starting to run out.

The Episodic Summary Of Indiana’s Triple-Overtime Win Over Penn State

How does one go about summarizing a triple-overtime marathon that saw Indiana just do enough to get a much needed win?

Indiana’s 110-102 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions had so many subplots and plot twists it practically qualifies as its own soap opera. So by dividing all of the periods (two halves and three overtimes) into their own episodes, here is the series breakdown of the five part mini-series known as Penn State at Indiana (2017):

Episode 1: Controlling The Boards

Summary: Off the heels of two embarrassing blowout road losses to Michigan and Northwestern, there was no way to overstate how important it was for the Indiana Hoosiers to win this home game against Penn State. However the Nittany Lions were out for revenge after losing at home to this Hoosier squad due to James Balckmon’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.

The Hoosiers jumped out to an early 11-6 lead that was quickly countered. Penn State made four straight three-pointers and took a 20-16 lead into the 10-minute mark of the first half.

That’s when the tide turned in the Hoosiers’ favor as Indiana outrebounded Penn State 10-2 over the next 6 minutes, including six straight rebounds at one point. Josh Newkirk scored 11 of his 12 first half points and Thomas Bryant scored 7 of  his 13 first half points during a 22-4 that had Indiana up 38-26 with 4:17 left in the first half.

The last four minutes of the period featured Penn State star freshman Tony Carr dishing out four of his six first half assists and Zach McRoberts showing that he can dunk. The first half, and the episode comes to a close as Indiana takes a 46-37 lead.

Episode 2: Tony Carr Strikes Back

Summary: A top 100 recruit out of Philadelphia, freshman Tony Carr is a rising star for the Nittany Lions. Carr had possibly his best game of the year when Indiana came to Penn State as he scored a career-high 24 points. However at halftime he had just two points on 1 of 3 shooting. He did have six assists but the Nittany Lions would need his scoring if they were to come back in this game.

Carr did just that as he went 4 of 8 in the second half and scored 12 points while also adding four assists to give himself a double-double in regulation. Nine of those points came during the first seven minutes of the second half when the Nittany Lions went on a 17-8 run to tie the game at 54.

The Hoosiers did there best over the next 12 minutes to never let Penn State take the lead. Four times the Nittany Lions tied the game, but each time Indiana responded by taking the lead again.

That is until Carr scored his final points of the second half as his “and-1” layup gave Penn State its first lead of the second half with 38 seconds left.

Bryant, who was up to 18 points at this point, responded by drawing a foul with 24 seconds left, giving him a chance to tie the game from the free throw line. Unfortunately he only made one of his two foul shots and forced the Hoosiers to have to foul Penn State’s Lamar Stevens.

Another talented freshman, Stevens had a game-high 20 points when he went to the free throw line with 22 seconds left. On top of that, Stevens was an excellent free throw shooter as his 81.3% from the foul line ranked fourth in the whole Big Ten. However, Stevens also was only able to make one of two and the Hoosiers had one more shot, down 72-70.

Stevens compounded his mistake of missing one of the free throws by fouling Indiana freshman De’Ron Davis with just three seconds left. With all of Simon Skjodt Assembly so quiet you could sit in the top row of the balcony and hear a pin drop onto the court, Davis did what neither Bryant nor Stevens could do as he made both free throws to tie the game.

The episode ends as Josh Reaves tried to break Indiana’s heart like the Hoosiers did to Penn State with Blackmon’s buzzer-beater, but Reaves buzzer-beating layup was too high off the glass as the horn rang.

Episode 3: At The Buzzer

Summary: Overtime starts with Penn State getting out to an early lead thanks to two easy dunks by Julian Moore. Blown defensive switches by Indiana looked to signal that the team was running out of gas, especially when the Nittany Lions took a 78-74 lead with 1:35 left.

After a 30 second timeout, the Hoosiers were faced with a possession that absolutely needed to end with a score. Freshman Devonte Green was unable to convert on a layup but Bryant was able to grab the missed shot before missing too. With pent up frustration and desperation, Bryant grabbed his own miss and ferociously slammed the ball through the hoop and drew contact from Moore.

Yet again Bryant missed from the foul line but 20 seconds later a steal from Newkirk gave the Hoosiers a chance to tie the game. Newkirk, who had been 3 of 6 from deep so far, got a great look but it just wasn’t able to fall as the Hoosiers were forced to foul Stevens again, this time with 27 seconds left.

Luckily for the Hoosiers, lighting struck twice as Stevens again split the pair of free throws, making it a three-point game. Desperate to get any points, Bryant was able to convert a layup with 11 seconds.

This time Penn State had their team captain and senior leader Shep Garner go to the free throw line in hopes of forcing IU to have to hit a three to continue the game. However, foul shooting again plagued the Nittany Lions as Garner was only able to make one of two.

With six seconds left, Newkirk was given the option to find the open man or take it to the rim himself. He chose the latter and skated around the defense to make a buzzer-beating layup to tie the game and send it to another overtime.

Or did he beat the buzzer? The last part of the episode takes several looks at the layup and whether or not it should count. Penn State Coach Pat Chambers was convinced it didn’t and his players start to celebrate their win. Yet one angle shows the ball just leaving the top of his fingertips as the backboard lighted up. That combined with the referees initial call of a good basket made the referees decide to count the basket and tie the game at 80.

Episode 4: Missed Opportunities

Summary: The episode opens with Coach Chambers still upset that the basket was counted but he quickly regroups and gets his players ready for the second overtime. Unfortunately his players still seem preoccupied with the call as they aren’t ready for the start of the period as Indiana scored four quick points to take its first lead since the final minute of the second half.

Sensing they have an opportunity to put the game away, the Hoosiers put the ball in Bryant’s hands and he proceeded to score eight of his career-high 31 points in the period and push Indiana’s lead to as much as six points.

With his team on the ropes, Carr again took over as he scored seven of his 23 points in the period including a huge three-pointer that cuts Indiana’s lead down to 92-91 with 36 seconds left.

In a reversal of roles from the first overtime, Newkirk was now at the line with a chance to make it a three-point lead for the Hoosiers when he only makes one of his two free throws. Carr then had the chance to hit the go-ahead three-pointer but it fell short as Green gathered the rebound and was fouled with 11 seconds left.

One made free throw would force a Penn State three-pointer to extend the game and two made free throws would clinch the win for Indiana. Unfortunately the nerves got to the freshman Green as he missed both. Carr redeemed himself as he drew a foul and tied the game by making both of his free throws.

Green is given a shot at winning the game but the episode ends as Reaves blocked his shot as the buzzer sounded yet again with both teams tied.

Episode 5: Green’s Redemption

Summary: The final episode warms up with both teams trading baskets, but it’s with 3:05 left after Newkirk hits a big three-pointer to give Indiana a 98-95 lead and it’s first make from behind the arc since the second half that the moment of truth occurs.

In an incredible plot twist, it wasn’t the short-handed Hoosiers that made the fatal error due to fatigue, but it was the Nittany Lions as the ensuing lackadaisical inbound pass was stolen by Green who redeems his two missed free throws as he made it a two-score game with the easy layup.

Green continues his redemption as he makes all four of his free throws in the period, and in the process achieved his first career double-double.

Things start to look unresolved when Bryant fouled out and Penn State narrowed Indiana’s nine point lead to just four with 43 seconds left but Newkirk and Rob Johnson closed the game out at the foul line as the Hoosiers as a whole went 10 of 10 in the third and final overtime.

When Nazeer Bostick’s three-point attempt missed and fell into the hands of Davis with Indiana up eight points with 13 seconds, Coach Chambers called for his players to stop fouling as the marathon finally came to a close.

For the Hoosiers, it was a huge win as the team improved to 5-5 in Big Ten play. But most importantly, it showed that these Hoosiers have too much heart to quit.


Cast (Boxscores):

Penn State:

Tony Carr – 23 points (7-17 FG)(2-7 3FG)(7-10 FG), 5 rebounds, 14 assists, 42 minutes.

Lamar Stevens – 26 points (9-17 FG)(2-3 3FG)(6-9 FT), 8 rebounds, 42 minutes.

Shep Garner – 16 points (5-15 FG)(4-11 3FG)(2-5 FT), 3 assists, 50 minutes.

Indiana:

Thomas Bryant – 31 points (13-18 FG)(1-1 3FG)(4-8 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 steals, 44 minutes.

Josh Newkirk – 27 points (9-14 FG)(4-8 3FG)(5-8 FT), 2 blocks, 46 minutes.

Rob Johnson – 27 points (10-17 FG)(1-5 3FG)(6-6 FT), 11 rebounds, 50 minutes.

Devonte Green – 10 points (3-11 FG)(0-4 3FG)(4-6 FT), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 45 minutes.

De’Ron Davis – 9 points (3-8 FG)(3-3 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 22 minutes.

Indiana Plays Like A Champion In Front Of 1981 Title Team, Beats #3 North Carolina

Before the game, former Indiana baseball star Kyle Swarber was honored for helping the Chicago Cubs win its first World Series in 108 years. During halftime, the 1981 Hoosiers were honored for winning the NCAA championship 35 years ago. Following each of those two events were two 20-minute periods that culminated in the 2016-2017 Indiana Hoosiers beating the #3 North Carolina Tar Heels 76-67 and looking very much like a team that could be honored on its own one day as a champion.

Coming off an impressive performance in Maui, the Tar Heels were put in an unfamiliar position as they never led once on Wednesday with the Hoosiers taking control of the game from the tip and never letting go thanks to some great defense and rebounding.

“Coach (Rob) Judson did a great job with the game plan”, said Rob Johnson about how the Hoosiers were able to slow down the explosive offense of the Tar Heels. “He gave us a breakdown of everything each guy liked to do. So we just wanted to take those away and make it tough for them.”

“We know their bigs are the best in the country”, said Thomas Bryant about the importance of keeping North Carolina off the glass, “and we knew that we had our work cut out for us at the beginning. So we wanted to establish that mindset and get out there and get after them.”

On the offensive side, OG Anunoby stepped up in a big way as he led the Hoosiers with 16 points and added five rebounds, two assists, and two blocks before leaving the game with an ankle injury in the final minutes.

Anunoby is a bit of an enigma, as came onto the scene late during his freshman year as a three-and-D wing. This season, he’s trying to show that his athleticism can translate into him becoming a superstar. While not close to being one yet, his importance was clear last week when a serious illness kept from being much of a factor during the Hoosiers’ upset loss to Fort Wayne. That’s what makes his performance on Wednesday so encouraging and his ankle injury so potentially discouraging.

Yet even if Anunoby misses time, the Hoosiers showed they were a great TEAM on Wednesday with multiple players playing crucial roles in the victory.

  • Thomas Bryant (14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals) scored seven of the Hoosiers first 11 second-half points to counter North Carolina’s comeback attempt in the early minutes after halftime.
  • Rob Johnson (11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) was the first half catalyst as he scored seven points and assisted on another basket to help the Hoosiers jump out to a 17-7 lead during the first six minutes.
  • James Blackmon Jr. (14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists) came back after missing the last game and grabbed six rebounds during the final 10 minutes of the game, including a couple of huge defensive rebounds that helped prevent the Tar Heels from narrowing the Hoosiers’ lead.
  • Josh Newkirk (10 points, 3 assists) did a great job running the offense at times and De’Ron Davis (5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks) was a key part of the Hoosiers’ 13-4 run that ballooned the Indiana lead to 28-11 midway through the first half and also made a clutch post-up bucket with 3:02 left to push it to a three-basket Indiana lead.

People remember the 1981 Hoosiers as being Isiah Thomas’ team. While he was a big part of their success, they wouldn’t have cut down the nets if it weren’t for the play of Ted Kitchel, Ray Tolbert, Randy Wittman, and Landon Turner.

While it’s way too early to compare this season’s group of important players to those legends, the potential for them to work together and complete the same goal is a very real possibility. Anunoby, Bryant, Johnson, Blackmon, Newkirk, and Davis are all capable of playing a key role in winning a championship.

Just like Schwarber played a key role in the Cubs winning a championship.

The New And Improved James Blackmon Jr. And Three Other Observations From Indiana’s Blowout Win Over UMass-Lowell

After coming off an emotional high of beating the Kansas Jayhawks in Hawaii to start the 2016-2017 season, the Indiana Hoosiers took care of business in their home-opener by defeating the UMass-Lowell River Hawks 100-78.

It was evident early in the game that the aftereffects of the overtime thriller as well as the jetlag of traveling five time zones had caused the Hoosiers to start relatively sluggish, clinging to a 16-16 tie by the under-12 media timeout. Yet the hero from the Armed Forces Classic came alive yet again as James Blackmon Jr. had 15 of his game-high 23 points during the final 11:30 of the first half to help the Hoosiers seize control of the game as they took a 53-36 lead into halftime and never looked back.

“I think there’s a confidence when they look at him”, said Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean about the impact Blackmon makes on the offense.

Coach Crean also talked about the fact that Blackmon made himself become physically stronger while returning from his injury and how it has improved his game.

“James is a lot more explosive than what he was. He could always dunk and things like that but he’s playing with more force. He’s playing downhill more. He’s covering more ground.”

His new strength combined with an iron-willed determination to make up for all the time he lost last season, points to this likely being the norm we’ll see from Blackmon Jr. this season. It wouldn’t surprise me if he eventually steps into Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell’s shoes and becomes the Hoosiers undisputed leader.

However that wasn’t the only thing I noticed during my first trip to Assembly Hall this season. Here are three others:

  1. Last Saturday it was Curtis Jones’ 15 points (including some big shots in overtime) that stood out from Indiana’s freshman class. Wednesday was Devonte Green’s time to shine as he finished with six points (two of which resulted in an explosive one-handed dunk) and four steals, which makes him the first Hoosier to have that many steals in a game since Blackmon Jr. did it against Alcorn State during the beginning of last season. It’s starting to look like this freshman class could play an integral part in the Hoosiers’ success.
  2. De’Ron Davis had some clutch free throws late against Kansas, but against UMass-Lowell he scored eight points and it was how he scored those four baskets that’s important. Each came on a variety of post moves where he took his defender one-on-one and beat him to the bucket. If Davis is able to do this on a nightly basis, it would make an already potent offense even more dangerous for opponents.
  3. While it would be great to see more Davis post-ups, I’d similarly like to see Thomas Bryant take more three-point shots when they are given to him. Bryant showed off his range in small quantities last year before hitting two big ones in the early minutes of the Kansas game. He has a great stroke, but on numerous occasions he was given up a wide-open look because he either hesitated until a defender closed in on him or he passed it to another open teammate. I understand why he’s not taking these shots (play decoy and cause the defense to scramble), but sooner or later teams will dare him to shoot and I know he has the ability to make those teams pay if he actually takes those shots.

 

Five Takeaways From Indiana’s Big Win Against Kansas

The #11 Indiana Hoosiers started the 2016-2017 season off with a bang as they outlasted the #3 Kansas Jayhawks 103-99 in the Armed Forces Classic.

For many, including myself, it was the first time they got to see this new version of the Hoosiers. So with that in mind, let me give five observations, based off of last night’s game, about what the season has in store for this season’s Hoosiers:

  1. Blackmon Is Not Only Back, But Will Fill The Yogi Role Of “Mr. Big Shot”: It’s so great to have James Blackmon Jr. back, as his shooting and scoring turn this offense into something special (see observation number five). Yet, the most important fact to come out of last night’s win was that Blackmon looks ready to carry the team in crunch time and take over Yogi Ferrell’s role of “Mr. Big Shot”. Blackmon has always had a knack for hitting big shots but his confidence and demeanor last night were something we have never seen from him before. He was an assassin who continuously made big three-pointers, driving layups, and critical free throws. If he stays healthy, we might be in for a special season from Blackmon.
  2. Bryant Is The New Captain: Ever since he came to campus last year, Thomas Bryant has been one of the most passionate Hoosiers, but with Yogi Ferrell gone, I think we can finally call Bryant the “heart and soul” of Indiana Basketball. While Blackmon did take over down the stretch, there was plenty of evidence to suggest this is Bryant’s team. Bryant played whatever role was needed, whether it was scorer in the first half or glass-eater in the second half. Perhaps most telling was that Head Coach Tom Crean continuously played Bryant in the first half even after he recorded his second foul, something Crean only usually did for Ferrell.
  3. Jones Could Be The Spark Plug Off The Bench: On a night where the world expected to see #2 ranked freshman Josh Jackson of Kansas begin what should be his only season as a Jayhawk before he gets picked in next year’s NBA lottery, it was Indiana’s freshman Curtis Jones that stole the show with 15 points off the bench, including seven crucial points in overtime. Jones provided instant offense not only in overtime but also in the first half when he scored his other eight points. Jones also showed he wasn’t afraid of the big moment as he scored the final four points of the game for the Hoosiers.
  4. Morgan Has A Legit Shot At Having IU’s First Triple-Double In Over 40 Years: The last and only Hoosier to record a triple-double was Steve Downing. In his sophomore season, Downing put up 28 points, 17 rebounds, and 10 blocks against Michigan. While I am in no way saying that Juwan Morgan will have a game like that in his sophomore season, it wouldn’t be out of the question for him to end up with a statline of 10 points, 12 rebounds, and 10 assists. Morgan’s skillset of being such a strong rebounder and ability to handle the ball as a point forward has already given him an opening night statline of 6 points, 10 rebounds, and 4 assists. You’re telling me he couldn’t get a triple-double against one of the cupcake non-conference opponents IU has on its schedule?
  5. This Team Might Be An Even Better Shooting Team Than Last Year’s Team: It may be hard to believe but based on what the Hoosiers just did against what should be one of the top defenses in the nation, IU’s offense might be even better this year than it was last year. Part of it will be a healthy Blackmon back and ready to prove himself. Bryant should improve as a scorer both in the post and on the perimeter. OG Anunoby will continue to improve offensively. Add all that to a roster that is full of shooters and we might be set for a record-breaking IU offense this season.

Mistake-Free Indiana Able To Hold Off Rival Purdue

The Indiana Hoosiers’ Achilles’ Heel all season has been turnovers and so the question became “how good would the Hoosiers be if they didn’t commit turnovers?”

They answered that question on Saturday when IU committed only four turnovers as they beat archrival Purdue 77-73 to break a three-game losing streak in the series.

The Hoosiers went the first 17:06 of the first half without committing a turnover and only had one at half while the Boilermakers had eight. The four total turnovers for the game ties for the fewest by the Hoosiers in the last three seasons.

“We want to play fast, we just don’t want to play reckless,” said Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean about how the team’s mindset led the way for there being so few turnovers. “I think (our players) have a lot of respect for Purdue. They know how good that defense is. They put a lot of pressure on you. So to me, we needed to make the simple play.”

Indiana (22-6, 12-3) also showed it has multiple players who can take a game over at a moment’s notice. The first half featured Troy Williams and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell ripping apart Purdue’s defense as the duo accounted for 28 of IU’s 35 first half points. In the second half, Thomas Bryant scored the Hoosiers’ first seven points of the second half while Max Bielfeldt had all of his 10 points and 6 rebounds after halftime, including a stretch where he was responsible for eight points during a 12-0 IU run.

Williams led all scorers with 19 points and in the process became the 49th Hoosier to score 1,000 career points. Ferrell also broke out of his shooting slump as he went 7 of 13 from the floor to score 18 points.

The Boilermakers (21-7, 9-6) were led by freshman big man Caleb Swanigan, who had 14 points and eight rebounds. He was also a key player behind Purdue’s 21-9 rally during the final seven minutes of the game, in which he scored half of his points.

Purdue almost had a shot to tie or take the lead when A.J. Hammons blocked Ferrell’s drive to the basket with 7.1 seconds left but was called for goaltending. Despite looking like a questionable call in the moment, replay showed that Hammons touched the rim during the block attempt which by rules certifies a goaltend. Indiana was able to hang on from there.

The Hoosiers won’t play until this Thursday when they travel to face Illinois. The game will be at 9pm eastern time and will be on ESPN.

From The Boxscore:

  • For those of you who want proof that Indiana only turned the ball over four times (and I don’t really blame the skepticism), here is a list of the four turnovers and what happened during those possessions:
    1. The first one didn’t come until the 2:54 mark of the first half and it came on a Robert Johnson offensive foul, which technically counts as a turnover because you did something that gave the ball to the opponent without the reason being a missed shot.
    2. The second one came with 9:07 left in the second half and was credited to Yogi Ferrell.
    3. Max Bielfeldt committed the third one with 7:36 left in the second half.
    4. It wasn’t until the fourth and final turnover that Purdue made Indiana pay for a mistake. Ferrell’s second turnover of the game with 44 seconds left was a result of a Purdue player poking out the ball from behind while Ferrell was dealing with the press in front of him. P.J. Thompson got the steal and assisted on a Dakota Mathias three-pointer that made it a one-possession game.
  • This is the third time in the last 20 years that the Hoosiers have won 12 of their first 15 Big Ten games. The other times were 2008 and 2013.
  • Ferrell, after shooting 10 of 40 his last four games, ended his slump when he made 7 of 13 on Saturday.
  • This was Ferrell’s 130th career start at IU which ties him with Christian Watford for the most career starts by a Hoosier.
  • Troy Williams becomes the 49th Hoosier with 1,000 career points and the eighth player to do it under IU head coach Tom Crean.
  • Having only 4 turnovers to Purdue’s 13 is great, but what’s even better is that IU had 20 points off turnovers compared to Purdue’s 3 points off turnovers.