Notebook: Sullinger impressed by Zeller’s performance

  • 01/01/2012 11:06 am in

Jared Sullinger might have won the statistical battle with Cody Zeller on Saturday night in Assembly Hall, but it was Indiana who walked off Branch McCracken Court with a 74-70 victory over Ohio State.

Sullinger, the heavy preseason favorite to win the Big Ten Player of the Year, finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, but was limited in the first half with two fouls.

And a big part of that foul trouble was the presence and craftiness of Zeller, who bounced back from what he called a “bad game” on Wednesday at Michigan State.

“He’s a good basketball player. Very creative around the rim. He’s strong,” Sullinger said of IU’s prized freshman. “A lot of freshmen don’t come in strong and ready to play in Big Ten basketball. It’s a very physical conference as you can see today. There was a lot of banging, a lot of physicality down low and even on the perimeter.”

Zeller finished with 14 points and four rebounds before fouling out with 2:24 remaining.

“Give him all of his respect. He played one hell of a game,” Sullinger added.

CROWD A FACTOR SANS STUDENTS

The decibel levels didn’t measure up to IU’s 73-72 thriller over No. 1 Kentucky on Dec. 10, but the home court advantage of Assembly Hall was still fully in tact.

“They were responsible not only for some baskets, but also for some stops. The building was electric,” Tom Crean said. “The Hoosier Nation is so incredible. To have that kind of energy in the building without the student here obviously due to break was awesome.”

The atmosphere was a factor in the eyes of Sullinger, too, who compared it favorably to “Phog” Allen Fieldhouse in Lawrence, Ks.

“It had the same effect as Kansas,” the Ohio State sophomore said. “Even though I was sitting on the sideline. You walk off the floor, they hang a L on you and your ears are ringing because the fans are so loud. Hoosier Nation was very loud today and they gave a very good home court advantage.”

CREAN PLEASED WITH ELSTON’S PERFORMANCE

With Zeller and Tom Pritchard saddled with foul trouble, Derek Elston played 16 pivotal minutes in his second game back following surgery to repair a nose fracture.

“If there was a most improved player of the week award in the Big Ten, I don’t know who would get it besides Derek Elston,” Crean said. “Because he had a tough night the other night. He came back, he knew it and he practiced with an edge the last couple of days.”

Elston, who is wearing a protective mask, scored four points (2-of-6 shooting), pulled down four rebounds and had a block and a steal. He admitted that the adjustment to wearing the mask has been difficult.

“Out there when I shoot [in practice], it’s not too bad,” he said. “But when I’ve got defense on me like that, things happen that when I’m shooting by myself don’t. I’m still trying to get used to it, but I feel like I’m doing a pretty good job.”

OTHER NOTES

Saturday’s win gave the Hoosiers a win of No. 1 and No. 2 in the same season for the first time in program history. Indiana is just the ninth team nationally since the 1996-1997 season to accomplish that feat. … Verdell Jones moved into the No. 28 spot on IU’s all-time scoring list with 14 points. … Christian Watford was honored before the game for joining the 1,000 point club during Wednesday’s game at Michigan State and with his 10 points on Saturday, passed Jared Jeffries for No. 42 on the Hoosiers’ all-time scoring list. … While no injury update was provided on Will Sheehey, the sophomore wing walked around without crutches, but still wearing a boot on his left foot. “We have really missed him the last couple of games. Will is a guy who can guard positions one through five,” Crean said.

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  • Tuck Daddy

    I keep saying it and saying it.  I love this freaking team.  You know what really has me excited is when Abell and Etherington start improving this team will really be something.  We get Will back and with the effort Elston and Pritchard give us then this team can beat anyone.  IMO, we just beat the best team in the country.  Ohio State is very good.  Kraft is my favorite non Hoosier in the country and Sully and Buford are NBA players now. 

    I have had a ton of respect for Dan Dakich but for him to say that the foul on Jordy the other night WAS the correct call is plum dumb.  I’ve watched it 30 times and all 30 times Jordy trips him, then he takes 3 steps and then shoots.  He wasn’t even in the lane yet when he was tripped.  I’m sorry Dan but before you rag on fans and hang up on them at least do some research! 

  • BrianS

    Great great win!  Serve notice if it hasn’t already been served – Assembly Hall is one heck of a tough place to play!   

    I sure hope Will Sheehey can get back on the court in the next couple of weeks.  During the first two B10 games I’ve imagined how much better they could have be if he was getting his normal minutes. 

  • BrianS

    Great great win!  Serve notice if it hasn’t already been served – Assembly Hall is one heck of a tough place to play!   

    I sure hope Will Sheehey can get back on the court in the next couple of weeks.  During the first two B10 games I’ve imagined how much better they could have be if he was getting his normal minutes. 

  • Jeannie Market

    So proud of the Hoosier’s & coach Crean!  Looking forward as part of the Hoosier Nation to a promising future!  Thanks to all the Hoosier players we are all so proud of your hard work~

  • Anonymous

    This is a little thing, but are we the 1st team since 1996-1997 to beat the AP No. 1 & 2, or have there been 9 teams since then that have beaten No. 1 & 2?

  • Anonymous

    serfice it to say that even the chance to play both the 1st, and 2nd ranked teams is a rarity, let alone beat them. Hopefully this win keeps the Hoosiers the same rank or a little better this next week!

  • Anonymous

    serfice it to say that even the chance to play both the 1st, and 2nd ranked teams is a rarity, let alone beat them. Hopefully this win keeps the Hoosiers the same rank or a little better this next week!

  • ldiu

    I listened to the comments from both Sullinger and Craft and must admit I was quite impressed with both players.  No whining, just told it like it happened.  Glad to see DE bounce back.  The mask HAS to be distracting; at the least.  I sure hope WS returns soon.

  • Bdt47250

    Sullinger a class act, ky fans and players could learn a few things from Jared!

  • Matt Lee

    I love this win. Love beating Ohio State. Love competing for a Big Ten title. Love this IU team.

    But I also have to say, Sullinger is a class act. Look at his comments compared to the Kentucky players. Class guy. I wish him well (when we’re not competing with them).

  • Anonymous

    I understood it as we’re one of only nine teams to do this over the past decade..and one of only three to do ever beat a #1 and a #2 (i like to call OSU that) in the same month.

  • Anonymous

    We just got Luke Fischer, great pick up!

  • Anonymous

    Well said by Sullinger.  I thought his Twitter post yesterday probably came from someone other than him, but his post game comments are along the same lines as his Twitter post.  That guy is impressive on and off the court.

  • IUJeff

    Sheehey out a month is huge. I keep wishing Mo was out there too. 

  • Nathanwade2001

    yes they could

  • Nathanwade2001

    yes they could

  • Nathanwade2001

    i agree with you 100%

  • IUfanPurduePhD

    No way, man … Watford’s free throws were lucky shots! 

  • Silkyslim

    Awesome bounceback by Zeller, still would like to see someone/everyone be able to feed the post with a simple ‘shot fake’ or ‘fake left, step & pass right’ move.  Someone please, FAKE & READ & FEED !!!

    On the positive side, great mental toughness  & teamwork by all of the Hoosiers after a tough loss to MI St. a few days earlier. 

  • hgdownunder

    Got to hand it to Sullinger, he is generous in defeat.

  • Anonymous

    A lot of people are talking about how they can’t wait until Sheehey gets back.  Either can I but I was wondering tonight what kind of shape he’s going to be in when the ankle is finally healthy enough for him to get back after it?  I think we may need to get used to the idea of playing without him for awhile.

  • Anonymous

    Funny.  I just told my roommate not two minutes ago that I have an upgraded respect for the Ohio State players as opposed to a new found level of hatred for Kentucky (if that’s possible) after the Kentucky game.

  • Anonymous

    I’d also like to commend the IU fans for recognizing the sportsmanship of Sullinger and Craft.  Just one more thing that separates us from the evil empire across the river.

  • Anonymous

    Sullinger very complimentative of Hoosier Nation and our players.  I respected him last year when he decided to stay and not go to the NBA and his comments yesterday don’t hurt either.

  • Anonymous

    Sullinger very complimentative of Hoosier Nation and our players.  I respected him last year when he decided to stay and not go to the NBA and his comments yesterday don’t hurt either.

  • Eyes_of_silver

    Yeah, have to agree with you about Sully and Craft.  Both of them are a class act, as well as excellent ballers.  We could use a few hundred more like that in the NBA and college ranks to replace the ones that are only a half step ahead of street thugs.

  • Anonymous

    Thank u TC for finally seeing the light with Zeller. First play of game..CZ came out high..set a few runby screens..ended up with the ball and took it to the hole. It was a bad off balance shot but it established the threat. Then with about 2 min to go it happened. Zeller comes out high again..VO and Hulls run a weave with VO handing it off to Zeller who took it straight down the lane and scored with a spin move. There is not a center in the B-10 who has his quickness in that situation. OSU could give him the bucket or foul him..and Sulinger did both. Where has that play been? Let Cody face the bucket and go for it or pull up. Those easy low post bunnies are not going to be there most of the time in the confernece. And defense..man I have never seen a better example of  team defense than IU played on the Bucks second to last possession. When Craft tried to use a penetration dribble..and turned the ball over..there were four defensive switches by IU without fouling on the play. Outstanding teamwork. This team will keep getting better if they make that commitment to the D.

  • Anonymous

    Thank u TC for finally seeing the light with Zeller. First play of game..CZ came out high..set a few runby screens..ended up with the ball and took it to the hole. It was a bad off balance shot but it established the threat. Then with about 2 min to go it happened. Zeller comes out high again..VO and Hulls run a weave with VO handing it off to Zeller who took it straight down the lane and scored with a spin move. There is not a center in the B-10 who has his quickness in that situation. OSU could give him the bucket or foul him..and Sulinger did both. Where has that play been? Let Cody face the bucket and go for it or pull up. Those easy low post bunnies are not going to be there most of the time in the confernece. And defense..man I have never seen a better example of  team defense than IU played on the Bucks second to last possession. When Craft tried to use a penetration dribble..and turned the ball over..there were four defensive switches by IU without fouling on the play. Outstanding teamwork. This team will keep getting better if they make that commitment to the D.

  • Anonymous

    and the rest of his 1000 points were too

  • Anonymous

    I was at the monumental game last night. After watching the team last night one thing that hasn’t been mentioned enough is the support Mo Creek gives his teammates even though he is out, and given his injury plagued past, may never play again. I watched him as he walked out with the team at the half, its obvious that he is completely bummed about his situation, yet he still supports his teammates before, during and after the game as if he had just fouled out of the game and cant help them anymore that night aside from being a cheerleader. If you read his pre-game tweets before EVERY game you wouldn’t be able to tell that he is out for the season. This guy is an all time great Hoosier and the face of the Crean era movement. I almost shed a tear for him last night during the halftime warmup as he watched from half court as his team got ready for the second half. Its time this guy gets some credit for his unwavering support in the face of unimaginable adversity. How many people can say they would do the same if we faced his situation. Love ya MC3

  • Anonymous

    Those guys may be classy but the team as a whole cried more than any other team I have ever seen. Jesus! Great win!

  • Anonymous

    Come visit the Louisville area anytime. You will quickly learn to hat UK. Lets not even mention their fanbase.

  • Anonymous

    You have to be able to read in order to learn.

  • Anonymous

    Great Post!!!!!  I continue to hope he can suit up again for IU.  He deserves it.