Notebook: Watford, Zeller combine for big night

  • 01/06/2012 8:01 am in

During Tom Crean’s first three years at Indiana, when certain players weren’t scoring, the Hoosiers had no chance to win.

Boy, how things have changed.

Jordan Hulls and Victor Oladipo combined to score 32 points in the Hoosiers’ upset of then-No. 2 Ohio State last Saturday. The two scored just eight combined points against No. 16 Michigan on Thursday night, making only 3-of-14 shots from the field.

But as Hulls and Oladipo struggled to find their offensive games, big men Christian Watford and Cody Zeller picked up the load and carried No. 12 Indiana to a 73-71 win.

Watford (25 points, seven rebounds) and Zeller (18 points, four rebounds) combined to score 43 points on 16-of-21 shooting. Whenever the Hoosiers needed a big basket, they went to one of them.

“It’s definitely important every game to get it inside, whether it’s to me or Christian,” Zeller said. “It opens so much up for the 3-point shooters and gets our offense flowing a little bit.”

Watford was on fire all night. He hit 3-of-4 from beyond the arc, he took Michigan’s bigs in the post, and he hit jump shots off the dribble. After a while, it became clear the Wolverines had no answer for him.

“Watford had a series of baskets right there that you can’t stop some of that stuff,” said Michigan coach John Beilein. “We put little guys on him, we put big guys on him. He shot right over Blake McLimans, who is a big, long dude. He just shot over him like it was Trey Burke guarding him.

“So he’s a really talented player. You can see that he’s really becoming a premier talent in this league.”

UP AND DOWN NIGHT FOR JONES

For much of the night, Verdell Jones played like a true point guard for Indiana. He passed the ball well, finding Zeller for several easy baskets inside. Jones finished with a team-high six assists.

But Jones had several key turnovers during a stretch in the second half that helped keep Michigan in the game. He also missed two free throws on the front end of 1-and-1s.

“I’ll probably go shoot free throws now after this,” Jones said after the game. “At least my dad will make me – one of the two. That can’t happen. Thankfully we won, but in big games, you never know what’s going to happen so you’ve got to hit the free ones.”

When it counted the most, though, the senior came up huge for the Hoosiers.

With the shot clock winding down and the Hoosiers ahead just 70-68 late, Jones hit a pull up jumper over Tim Hardaway Jr. to help the Hoosiers secure the win.

“It was basically broken at that point,” Crean said. “It was ‘make a play.’ … It worked out great. He made a senior shot.”

NO ‘O’ BUT PLENTY OF ‘D’

Oladipo may have scored only five points on 2-of-10 shooting, but he was his normal pestering self on the defensive end.

The sophomore guard drew the Hardaway Jr. assignment, and he made him uncomfortable for much of the night. Oladipo blocked Hardaway Jr.’s first shot attempt, and gave him few uncontested looks.

Hardaway Jr. finished with a team-high 19 points, but he shot just 7-of-19 from the field and 0-of-7 from 3-point range.

“He didn’t get confidence from shooting the ball, but continued to build his confidence throughout the game defensively,” Crean said of Oladipo. “He never hung his head. … Let’s move on to the next play. Vic’s in the process of his maturity and figuring out how to move right on.”

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  • Anonymous

    I get the feeling that Perea is a bigger, higher potential Victor Oladipo.

  • cooper

    Another thing is scoring guards and players with the ball in there hands that drive turn the ball over more. Hulls doesn’t drive the ball. It’s not a knock, it is what it is. It is much easier to not turn it over if you stay above the three point line which Hulls does. Id rather VO drive more but he doesn’t pass as well as VJ and VO, at times, falls in love with shooting jumpers.

  • cooper

    Another thing is scoring guards and players with the ball in there hands that drive turn the ball over more. Hulls doesn’t drive the ball. It’s not a knock, it is what it is. It is much easier to not turn it over if you stay above the three point line which Hulls does. Id rather VO drive more but he doesn’t pass as well as VJ and VO, at times, falls in love with shooting jumpers.

  • Anonymous

    TP been playing decent defense..but when he’s on t he floor it is so much easier to defend IU..somebody gets doubled..cause Tom has no one near him. That said..we need his minutes in the rotation..Crean seems to have ben using him at just the right time.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Nobody is saying that Remy is a better player or option.  But, Remy would do the trick for a 1-2 minute substitution so CTC could get in VJ3’s ear and get him back on track!  He’s the coach and he needs to recognize when VJ is going off the reservation and fix the problem.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I see your point and, yes, one player doesn’t cost you an entire game.  But you see my point as well. 

    It is what it is and hopefully CTC adjusts things a bit.  I’m not calling for VJ3 to be benched.  I just think it’s a coach’s job to recognize when a player is straying from the game plan and becoming “selfish”, for lack of a better word, and call timeout or briefly pull the player to correct the issue.

    It’s probably more CTC’s fault than VJ3’s that he is the way he is because he hasn’t corrected it in 3+ years.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    CTC actually did pull him!  And then he put him back in and he made the big shot (although he did miss the front end of a 1-and-1, but that happens).  CTC just waited too long to pull him and talk him through it.  The game was already tight by the time he made that decision and VJ3 had already turned it over 3 times.  Why not pull him after the first dumb decision just for a minute to settle him down?

  • Anonymous

    He can shoot it from Knaw Bone.

  • Anonymous

    Haha ahhhh yes how silly of me!

  • Derbus

    . . . .I lost my thought.  I may be connecting way too many dots . . .but, are you saying he be gambling on IU games?!!!!  That would be concerning.

  • Derbus

    and where does it land??? 
    lmao

  • Derbus

    OK, now the line has been drawn in the sand . . .  . ..   Yogi is CZ as a Point Guard { now do I have Your attention }?  I say Yogi will be the staritng PG for 80% of  the Season and Jordon Hulls will be a SG.

  • Derbus

    Peter, is it:

    VJ sux and is throwing games.  How %^$#@(*!  obvious is it or does someone have to mind-meld with you like Spock???!!!

  • Anonymous

    Yeah, that wasn’t a knock on CTC as much as an observation on what sometimes seems like an unfortunate timing trend…