The Hoosiers needed this one

  • 01/30/2012 8:20 am in

Indiana’s wins against Kentucky and Ohio State remain the two best victories in the country this season.

But the Hoosiers didn’t need either of those wins in the way they needed their 103-89 victory against Iowa on Sunday.

The No. 16 Hoosiers had to prove they could step on an opponent’s throat as an overwhelming favorite. They had to prove they could break out of the funk they’ve been in. They had to prove that, to put it frankly, this isn’t the team that has missed the tournament in each of Tom Crean’s first three years in Bloomington.

They had to prove all of that to the selection committee and to the fans. But most importantly, they had to prove it to themselves.

This is a team full of guys who have been through the whole losing thing before. Lose to Iowa at home, and maybe those ugly nightmares start to come back. With road games against Michigan and Purdue coming next, this thing could have gotten away from Crean and Co. in a hurry.

But this isn’t the same old Indiana team. With their backs very much against the wall, the Hoosiers dominated an Iowa club that has owned them in recent history.

They scored 58 points in the paint, outrebounded the Hawkeyes 37-22, and scored 100 points in a Big Ten contest for the first time since 1995. Indiana built a big lead and then never let Iowa back in, something the Hoosiers have struggled to do at times this season.

The Kentucky and Ohio State wins put the Hoosiers back on the map. This one showed they aren’t ready to fall back off of it.

“Again, 17 wins, 17 different ways to win,” Crean said. “And I thought our team responded to the last couple of days. They were excited to play. They had tremendous energy and I think the energy of the crowd helped fuel them even more.”

Even more impressive than the win was the way in which the Hoosiers won it.

They didn’t do it with 3-pointers as they have so often in the past. They made only 4-of-16 shots from beyond the arc for the game, all of which came in the first half.

Instead the Hoosiers did it with interior passing, with uncontested dunks, and with unselfish play.

They did it without a big performance from Jordan Hulls, but with big performances from Derek Elston and Tom Pritchard.

Elston scored eight points and blocked a shot in a 68-second spurt in the first half, and Pritchard scored seven points, had a tip dunk and a steal, and took two charges.

“Everybody came out with that toughness that we needed, and we kind of ran with it,” Elston said. “Once we got in the flow, it was kind of hard to stop us.”

The Hoosiers are far from a finished product. They allowed Iowa to shoot 79 percent from the field in the second half and 63 percent for the game. If they want to move above the middle of the pack in the conference, their defense must get much better.

When he was asked about the second-half shooting percentage his team gave up, Crean shook off the question.

“I’ll worry about that later,” he said. “I’m glad we got the win.”

For this one time, that’s the right response. This game wasn’t about shooting percentages.

This game was about the Hoosiers’ getting their confidence and their edge back. It was about continuing to grow into the team the Hoosiers want to become instead of falling back into the team they used to be. It was about grabbing Iowa by the neck and never letting go.

They did all of those things, and they had fun doing it.

Indiana has had more impressive wins, but this one may just be the most important.

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  • SCHoosier

    re: WAT..its simple..he never uses a pump fake..yet he left his feet at least 4 times at WIS cause the guy he was guarding pumped him. Wat gets stuffed more or can’t finish close in buckets more than any 6-9 kid I’;ve ever seen. He is not explosive with his jumping..so a pump fake would really hlep him..get foul shots plus maybe the bucket. The coaches been sleeping on this problem for his entire 3 years at IU..just don’t get it.

  • DannerPerea

    Milla, is it true that Michigan’s basketball arena is also where they play hockey? ūüėȬ†

  • DannerPerea

    Did we expect to be in the polls at all back in September? I’ll take this win, not worry about what the “experts” think about how good or bad we are, then i’ll watch IU return from the sagging mid-conference slump and stick it to a couple teams in the dance. Don’t give a hoot about if we’re #25 or #2 at this point. Happy that we’re feeding the Z and looking for VJ3 to keep his A:TO like it was Sunday.

  • No doubt, and if anyone is even close it has to be Watford.¬† Hulls has proven himself to be about the 4th or 5th best option – in my eyes.

  • IUJeff

    So we’re a 5 seed now with a chance to move up to a 4 or a 3.

    I’ll take an NCAA birth¬†and a good seed considering I was hoping for an above .500 year and making the NIT.

  • IUJeff

    So we’re a 5 seed now with a chance to move up to a 4 or a 3.

    I’ll take an NCAA birth¬†and a good seed considering I was hoping for an above .500 year and making the NIT.

  • Recker777

    That was pretty much a must win with the two on the road we have coming up. I would be incredibly happy if we could win one of those. I think the best shot is at purdue.

  • Walt

    RMKH, Re: your question on CWat. Over the years, it seems when he drives to the basket or has it underneath,1. he does not have a good handle on the ball 2. Perhaps does not have the upper body strength to hang on to it, as many times it is taken right out of his hands. 3. Do not know the size of his hands?  Have not seen anyone else his height have this happen to so often. IMHO

  • Hoosiertracker

    I agree, what a great win for the Hoosiers.  The slight change in the starting lineup worked well and the players on the bench stepped up their games.  Now to get a road win like that!  
    http://www.hoosiertracker.com

  • Hoosiertracker

    I agree, what a great win for the Hoosiers.  The slight change in the starting lineup worked well and the players on the bench stepped up their games.  Now to get a road win like that!  
    http://www.hoosiertracker.com

  • JerryCT

    Amen . I hope folks noticed the difference between a TP hedge on the ball screen and CZ .

  • FWHoosier

    Not sure I heard it right but I think they said he only has dunked the ball 2 times this year? Pretty low total for a guy 6’9″

  • SouthernINHoosier

    A good win for IU.  However they need pick up on defense.  This may have been a lose if they were playing OSU or MSU.

  • iufan4life10

    The latest article said Kasongo has IU as first on his list right now.  Are there any videos of Kasongo?

  • Kfdchev

    HELLO…..We gave up 89 points to Iowa. I don’t care about the speed at which the game was played…..that is too many points to give up to Iowa. They are a cellar dweller and we should never allow 89 points to a team of that caliber. Terrible defense……simply terrible. Watch the game again and count how many points they score right under the basket. If we play like this on Wednesday we get beat 20!

  • BigRed1

    I felt like maybe Crean wanted to speed the game up so the refs could not get involved like they did at Wisconsin, after all Hightower was there.That still can’t explain all the uncontested shots that Iowa was allowed.

  • BigRed1

    I felt like maybe Crean wanted to speed the game up so the refs could not get involved like they did at Wisconsin, after all Hightower was there.That still can’t explain all the uncontested shots that Iowa was allowed.

  • hoosier_kamp

    I mean best option at his position

  • hoosier_kamp

    I mean best option at his position