Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Nebraska

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At times it lacked the energy of the marquee games we’ve seen this season inside Assembly Hall, but Indiana kept pace with Michigan State in the Big Ten standings on Wednesday night with a 76-47 dismantling of Nebraska.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from Indiana’s 10th conference win:

· Nebraska was able to slow Indiana down … and still lost by 29. Nebraska stuck to its guns in this one as the game was played at just 58 possessions, the second slowest pace the Hoosiers have played at this season. The slowest? A January win at Northwestern that produced just 54 possessions. For a half, Tim Miles was able to keep his team within striking distance as the Hoosiers went to the locker room leading just 27-18. Indiana, one of the best 3-point shooting teams in the country, hit just 2-of-7 attempts from distance in the first half, but began to connect after intermission. Indiana hit six of its nine 3-point attempts in the second half. “The trouble in the second half came with their 3-point shooting and their ability to get to the foul line,” Miles said. “They are always on the attack. That’s just how they are.”

· Quietly, Victor Oladipo had another great game: It obviously won’t grab the headlines that his work in Columbus did, but IU’s player of the year candidate put together another statistically sound performance. His line in 27 minutes: 13 points (5-of-8 FG, 2-of-2 FT), eight rebounds, three steals, an assist, a block and a turnover. It’s staggering when you examine Oladipo’s shooting numbers compared to a season ago. On 3-pointers, he’s jumped from 20.8 percent to 52.4. On twos, he’s climbed from 52.3 percent to 67.5 percent. “His improvement, everybody thinks they see it, but when you look at where it was a year ago to where it is now, it’s astronomical,” Tom Crean said. “When he’s shooting the ball and when Will’s [Sheehey] shooting the ball that way and as we get Mo [Creek] shooting the ball better, then our team has a chance to be that much better.”

· Indiana’s free throw parade continues: Getting to the foul line was a big reason the Hoosiers won 27 games and reached the Sweet 16 last season. Through 25 games this season, Indiana’s free throw rate (FTA/FGA) ranks 2nd nationally at 49 percent and in conference play, the Hoosiers are setting the league pace at 51.1 percent. Wednesday night was no different as Nebraska ran into foul trouble almost from the opening tip. Nebraska’s two big men, Andre Almeida and Brandon Ubel, both played limited minutes because they were unable to defend IU around the basket without fouling. It was the 20th game the Hoosiers have shot 20 or more free throws this season.

· When Watford plays well, Indiana plays well: He’s often been called the “x-factor” for this team and once again, a strong performance from Christian Watford helped lead to an IU win. In IU’s three losses this season, Watford is shooting just 8-of-24 from the field. But when he’s engaged early, hits the glass hard, the Hoosiers are an elite team with Watford as a reliable third option. While he’s overshadowed at times by Oladipo and Cody Zeller, Watford is putting together his strongest season in Bloomington. His effective field goal percentage (55.0), defensive rebounding percentage (20.8), free throw rate (55.0) and 3-point field goal percentage (48.8) are all career-bests.

· Indiana limits turnovers for second straight game: Turnover problems haunted Indiana in its loss to Illinois last Thursday. But for two straight outings, the Hoosiers have turned the ball over on less than 16 percent of their possessions, a fact that was not lost on Crean in his postgame comments. “When we don’t turn the ball over, we’re a lot better,” he said. “When you score the points that this team scores, when you have the offensive efficiency that they have and you eliminate those turnovers, I don’t know what our points per possession were tonight, but I know it was really high. (Note: It was 1.31.) And they’re starting to really get that. [Graduate manager] Seth Cooper did a phenomenal job of showing them the value of a turnover. Not only to the other team, but how much it hurts us.”

  • dtfreed

    CWat has played with tougher hands most of the B1G and that was usually my only criticism of him. He’ll do much better in the draft if he continues and especially against Mich St.

  • dtfreed

    CWat has played with tougher hands most of the B1G and that was usually my only criticism of him. He’ll do much better in the draft if he continues and especially against Mich St.

  • wesmont

    You are right on all points.

  • dtfreed

    The coach of NE tweeted at half time? At least his team is social media ready?

  • CreamandCrimson

    I saw that. I kind of agree with him on the NBA scouts part. I think Appling is a really good player and should be way higher than #70 or whatever he is on the prospects list. I think Nix is a good player and probably has a spot in the NBA as a journeyman big. Payne is very big and very skilled and if he continues to shoot like he has the past month, he will be a 1st round pick eventually.

    There are two parts of his lengthy “no respect” whine that I think are incredibly false. I don’t know what Sportscenter he was watching but the highlights of that game were shown twice in a 60-minute show. I have seen several national writers proclaiming the Spartans the best team in the conference and a favorite for the Final Four. I think they are getting respect (not that it really matters, they perceived they aren’t and use it, good for them). The other problem I have is the comparison of Dawson to Oladipo. What can Victor do that Dawson can’t? Oh boy….Victor is one of the best defenders (if not the best) in the country. Dawson is a decent defender who takes tons of chances on passes and gets beat when doesn’t get the steal. Victor has turned into an extremely reliable 3-point shooter and is one of the top-five most efficient offensive players in the country. Dawson can’t hit a shot outside of the paint and has shot exactly 0% on three pointers! Victor averages 14 and 6 (plus more assists), Dawson averages 10 and 6. Don’t compare a pretty good player to one of the best players in the country….they aren’t even close!

  • WatchingYogi_atYogis

    The way I tried to explain why I’d go VO over Craft as defensive player of the year is two-fold. First, Craft does a great job of staying in front of his man, but VO is a transcendent defender that actually can take it the other way and turn stops into quick points. Second, Craft guards one position for the most part, VO gives Crean the ability to take at least three to four positions away depending on the matchup and mid-game depending on who has the hot hand. Craft is fine if you’ve got some great defenders at other positions (and OSU has a few). But if you had a really bad defensive team and could take one guy to instantly upgrade it, it’s VO.

  • IUMIKE1

    Spot on.

  • IUMIKE1

    Marcus, I hate to nit pick but, you forgot one of the zeros on your actual number. I’m guessing you maybe typed it on an old keyboard and the zero button doesn’t work every time ?

  • IUMIKE1

    I’d say it’s a distinct possibility. If they do, the only thing more sure than that that is BS is that there is some serious bias in the voting.

  • IUMIKE1

    Good points. Coaches asked who they would rather have VO or Hatchet Hands + truth serum = VO being the unanimous choice.

  • IUMIKE1

    Read an article ( can’t remember where ) that looked at teams in the B1G and compared the number of fouls called, against them as well as against the other team, and in games on the road versus games at home. If memory serves me right Wisky was the big winner in those stats. IU was almost exactly the same on the road as they were at home.

  • IUMIKE1

    Well crap, if I had just read down a couple more comments I would have seen that someone else had, not only already said, but explained it better and could remember where they read it to boot.

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