Thoughts on a 67-54 win over the Evansville Purple Aces:
Can the Hoosiers put it together for a full 40 minutes?
That’s the challenge heading forward.
After a first half thick with turnovers (12), fouls (three each for Bobby Capobianco, Tom Pritchard and Christian Watford) and only 25 points (thanks to Evansville’s defense taking away perimeter shooting which equaled minimal shot attempts for IU), the Hoosiers put together arguably their finest stretch of the season in the second half — at one point ripping off a 27-2 run on the Purple Aces.
Maurice Creek was a big catalyst. The sophomore hit three 3-pointers early in the second frame (after IU only attempted three the entire first half) and was fouled on another 3-point attempt in which he hit all three free throws.
Creek also scored on a nice left-handed runner off the backboard later in the half, along with another three with just under two minutes left to seal the deal.
For the game, Creek scored 18 points (5-of-10 from the floor, 4-of-7 from three, 5-of-5 from the line).
In addition, IU clamped down hard on defense and Evansville’s offense was stymied for most of the second half.
But most impressive was the way the Hoosiers took care of the ball. After giving it away 12 times in the first 20 minutes, only three miscues occurred in the second half for a total of 15.
As Alex tweeted this morning, IU ranked 329th out of 344 Division I teams in turnover percentage heading into this game. Not very good.
And whether the team builds off the turnover-light second half remains to be seen.
But in a season where turnovers have been a glaring problem, this afternoon’s performance was encouraging.
Other scattered thoughts:
+ Pritchard had his best game of this young season. When the offense stalled in the first half, he connected on two of his patented reverse layups. Pritchard also posted a career-high five blocks, and impressed with his ability to remain active and aggressive on defense — by staying straight up on the block — despite the fouls.
The Ohio native also tallied a solid eight rebounds and finished with eight points (4-of-5 from the field).
With Guy Marc-Michel’s return still unknown, Derek Elston nursing an injury and Capobianco having his own foul troubles, his performance was important.
+ Much has been made of Jeremiah Rivers’ play so far this season in the comments, and it’s about time he gets a mention up here. It’s clear his offensive role has been tapered this season — he’s deferred to teammates and passed up several scoring opportunities thus far. So it was nice to see him break his man down off the wing for an uncontested dunk near the end of the first half for his first bucket of the season.
And he followed it up with a steal off the inbounds pass and a kick out to Jordan Hulls for an open three — which was missed.
Rivers continues to be a steady defensive presence and is making some nice passes when given the opportunity.
Good to see.
+ Quickly: With the win, IU moves to 4-0 for the first time since the 2007-08 season. The Hoosiers shot over 50 percent for the game (53.3 percent). The free-throw shooting, though, was poor (15-of-28, 53.6 percent).