Five takeaways from Indiana’s win at Nebraska

  • 01/01/2015 9:14 am in

Indiana moved to 1-0 in the Big Ten and 11-3 overall with a hard fought 70-65 win at Nebraska on Wednesday at Pinnacle Bank Arena. Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Cornhuskers:

· The Hoosiers controlled the pace: Tom Crean has talked about his wish to play faster this season dating all the way back to Indiana’s trip to Montreal in August, but many wondered if the Hoosiers would be able to do so once league play arrived.

IU passed the first tempo test as the Hoosiers played a 68-possession contest with the Huskers, including 36 in the first half. For a reference point, Indiana had just 60 possessions in last year’s 60-55 loss at Nebraska and only 64 in the 70-60 loss to the Huskers at Assembly Hall.

The extra possessions are significant particularly when Indiana is taking care of the ball as the Hoosiers did last night. IU turned it over on just 16.3 percent of its possessions against the nation’s 18th best defense coming into the game.

“I think we played at their pace too much (in the first half),” Nebraska coach Tim Miles said. “Anytime you’re going to miss against Indiana right at the rim, they are going to make you pay. They really got us in transition. They really hurt us and were able to build the lead.”

· Hanner Mosquera-Perea was dominant down the stretch: IU’s junior big man logged just four first half minutes due to fouls, which is one of the few times this season he’s been in that predicament. With a comfortable lead and Emmitt Holt playing well, Crean opted to keep Mosquera-Perea on the bench to avoid a third foul and was rewarded in the second half.

In 18 second half minutes, Mosquera-Perea had 11 points and seven rebounds and he finished with his first career double-double (12 points and 10 rebounds).

Whether this type of production from Mosquera-Perea has finally arrived and is here to stay remains a question, but he’s certainly played better in recent weeks. Over IU’s last six games, the Colombia native is averaging 9.2 points, seven rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 24.5 minutes per contest.

· Ferrell leads as a facilitator, Williams comes out of the gate strong: Last season, Indiana did not have enough scorers around Yogi Ferrell to put up 70 points in a game where Ferrell only scored five. But this is a new year and a much improved offense.

Nebraska’s game plan was to play Ferrell with physicality on the perimeter and not leave him any space to find shots, so he adjusted and acted as a facilitator. The result? Ferrell found Mosquera-Perea with a couple of key second half lobs and finished with eight assists and just one turnover.

“Scoring, who scores, if you’ve got a team that’s really moving the ball, there’s going to be some nights where it’s really going for certain guys and some nights it is not,” Crean said. “I thought he did a fantastic job. They were extremely physical with him. He played through that. He’s a very tough person.”

Troy Williams was quiet in the second half, but his nine first half points were a major reason Indiana built a 16-point lead. Williams finished with 13 points and six rebounds and his improved ball handling and passing are essential to Indiana’s explosive offense.

· Johnson comes up big in first true road game: Freshman guard Robert Johnson had scored in double figures just once in IU’s last five games entering Wednesday, but the Richmond (Va.) native scored seven of IU’s first eight points on his way to a team-high 14 points.

Johnson shot 5-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-6 on 3s and the fact that IU thrived on the road with a combined 13 points from its two leading scorers (James Blackmon Jr. and Ferrell) has to be viewed as an encouraging sign.

“It feels good. It’s a conference game and it’s the conference opener,” Johnson said. “You want to come in and get a win. We came into a hostile environment at times and were able to pull out a win down the stretch. I think that’s good, especially for me and the other young guys.”

· Nebraska needs another scorer to find success: The Cornhuskers sit at just 8-5 overall after being ranked in the AP Top 25 to begin the season and if Miles is going to orchestrate a turnaround similar to last season, he needs a third scorer to emerge.

Terran Petteway (23 points) and Shavon Shields (20 points) did their part on Wednesday as they’ve done all season, but beyond Walter Pitchford’s 11 points, no other player scored more than four points. The returns of Leslee Smith and Moses Abraham can’t come soon enough for Nebraska as Smith in particular should open things up offensively in the paint.

Ultimately, Indiana may look back on this game and feel fortunate to have played Nebraska, which is only playing seven guys, early in the conference season rather than late. After starting 0-4 in the Big Ten a season ago, the Cornhuskers won 11 of 14 to finish 11-7 in league play. A similar turnaround may be too optimistic of a view for this team, but it will improve once Smith and Abraham return.

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  • Totally agree with your points, especially the second paragraph. Those two will need to both be on the floor at times, during the Big Ten season, especially against Wisconsin, MSU, and Maryland, among others. A few minutes together on the floor, here and there, shouldn’t create major foul-trouble issues for both of them. It needs to be done, and should have been tried against Georgetown, in particular.

  • Yep. The one near the end of the game was the big one. They even replayed it on tv and commented on it. Very wow.

    He needs to keep working on positioning and blocking out, however. One of these days, he’s going to try to sky for a rebound and someone is going to beat him to the spot and get a body under him…and he could go down hard. This worries me about Troy and James, too. They need to watch what Zeisloft and Hartman do here.

  • Bill

    You would think. We are a Zimmerman , Bryant etc away from a final four run next year. Development of bigs and a final four shot should bing one in. Got to , no??

    Also, being the funnest team to watch and run and gun. Got to attract a big who can run, no??

    I’m frustrated none have pulled the trigger. Who does everyone think we will get ?

  • calbert40

    I think part of the reason that opponents are “out performing” us in the 2H is because they are behind. They play with a little more desperation than we do. In other words, our stellar 1H play puts our opponent in a corner, so they come out swinging hard in the 2H.

    Equally, I could say (factually, IMO) that we outplayed UL immediately out of halftime. We had to…we were behind. We took the lead. But then UL took it back and ran away with it. When we look at small segments of the game, unless we totally dominated a team, there will be portions where our opponent outplays us. It’s the B1G now. This will happen every night.

    Obviously, a truly elite team like UL is able to turn it around faster than we are. They step on their opponent’s throat at the first opportunity, and they don’t remove it until the game is over. We need to become that team, but Neb outscoring us 33-30 in the 2H is not a big deal…when we outscored them 40-32 in the 1H.

  • Arch Puddington

    If you mean me, you couldn’t be more wrong. I detest Bob Knight, and I have no interest in Alford as our coach. I am no Crean apologist, but I have defended him when I think it is warranted (I spent all of last season challenging the assertion that he was not doing enough to get NV the ball, for example), and I am glad to acknowledge the many good things he has done.

    I do, however, like to analyze and talk about basketball. Other than the comment about substitutions, which I acknowledged was subjective, the rest of what I said is just plain reality. We play lousy defense, and we are routinely losing ground to our opponents in the second half of games. Those are real trends in our season, and impactful ones. It seems like a website dedicated to IU basketball would be a good place to share such thoughts, particularly in response to an article called “5 Takeaways”, but perhaps it would be better if we all just cheered.

  • Arch Puddington

    No, my post did not specifically call for EH and HMP to play together, but I think they should. The argument that this won’t work because they would not adequately stretch defenses does not hold water, and our
    starting lineup makes that case quite nicely.

    I would point out that as fantastic as TW has been lately, he is still no threat from outside. He has taken only four 3-point shots all year, and has only made one (and probably should not take another one all season!). At the same time, he has become such a lethal slasher that that about the only way to guard him is to sag and hope to keep him out of the lane. This is in no way a criticism, just an observation that far from extending defenses to the perimeter, TW actually gives them reason to stay back. And yet he and HMP play together quite often, and even with “only” three shooters, we stretch defenses to the breaking point.

    So while Holt is a very different player than TW, I simply
    do not buy the spacing argument. It seems odd, at least to me, to believe that a lineup with him, HMP, and any three of the Yogi/JBJ/RJ/NZ contingent would be
    offensively challenged. Defenses would be every bit as stretched with that lineup as they are with our regular rotations, and Holt can score in his own right. He gets good position on the low block, scores through contact, shoots free throws well, and runs the floor like a deer.

    Just my two cents.

  • I generally don’t recommend taking a literal interpretation, of anything, ever. Absolutely nothing wrong with analyzing the games, etc., I was mostly joking with my comments (although a few here sometimes seem to fall into the category I mentioned). Fair-minded critiques are positive contributions, but constant criticisms, for criticism’s sake (and often motivated by lingering, petty resentments against the coach, you will probably concede), are idiotic and unthinking. I’m not even remotely implying you are one, and I actually agree with a lot of your points.

    But I also think a little celebration is in order, after a big road win for our team. People are just as equally entitled to say “lighten up,” after a big win, as you are to pick apart the defensive effort. How about we start picking apart MSU’s likely offensive strategy, instead of nit-picking a hard-fought team-oriented win?

  • Arch Puddington

    Fair points. About all I would say in response is that while I agree that some celebration is in order after a nice win, “The Minute After” is always good for that. A day or so later and after some time to reflect, it seems reasonable to include some big-picture analysis in “Five Takeaways.” Not meaning to get all technical about it; people are entitled to post their thoughts as they see fit, and others are free to object. For whatever its worth, I am neither one-sided nor hostile towards CTC. I am an “on the one hand/on the other hand” kind of guy, and will post accordingly.

  • I’ve been hard on TC, but I have to give him credit for getting the kids ready for the big games. I don’t always like his game tactics or his substitutions, but whatever he does behind the scenes to prepare the team for big games really works.

  • FinEndNow

    So Michigan State is up next right? We almost match up with them at every position size wise.
    Yogi(6-0 178) and Trice(6-0 170)
    JBJ(6-4 190) and Forbes(6-3 175)
    Williams(6-7 206) and Dawson(6-6 225)
    HMP(6-9 225) and Schilling(6-9 240)
    Only spot that we don’t match up in my opinion is Johnson(6-3 195) and Valentine(6-5 220).
    If Yogi can get into Trice then MSU’s offense should sputter. But they will be physical but luckily for us they do not have the size of a Georgetown and instead the size of a Butler. Will be another very tough road game. Would be a VERY impressive start to the B1G season to start out with two road wins.

  • b_side

    I think the issue isn’t so much about spacing as it is being a capable ball handler. Neither Holt nor EH are going to get the ball on the perimeter via a hand-off and attack the basket. The 5 man is either setting a screen for the ball handler, waiting for a dump off or on the rare occasion, posting up.

    Perhaps Devin, if healthy, will be that 4 who has the right combination of rebounding prowess and ball handling to play next to Hanner while still keeping in 3 guards or sliding Troy over to the 3 spot.

  • FinEndNow

    I didn’t get to see about any of the game. But towards the end I saw an incredibly impressive rebound by HMP. He didn’t rebound over anyone anything but it looked like he would have grabbed the top of the backboard.

  • Arch Puddington

    I agree that there is more to perimeter play than shooting, but I still don’t understand CTC’s fundamental position that that two low-post bigs can’t play at the same time. As I look at the Kenpom top 10, almost everyone routinely plays two such guys at at time. Heck, Kentucky has TWO combos like that: Cauley-Stein/Towns and Johnson/Lee. Louisville starts Harrell and Ofoaku; Gonzaga has Sabonis and Karnowski; Duke has Okafor and Jefferson; and the list goes on.

    My basic contention is this: with Yogi at the top of the key, JBJ on one side, and RJ on the other, the floor would be adequately spread even if the other two guys were both Uwe Blab. I’m not saying HMP and EH should both start, just that it seems crazy to be so committed to “spacing”that we take one option entirely off the table. I admire CTC’s creativity, and of course this year we are going to have to play small no matter how good EH gets. But there are times when a bigger lineup would make sense, and our coach seems to have taken an almost ideological opposition to something that every other coach in the country does routinely. It was true last year, and it is even more so this year. I guess I’m just not smart enough to get it.

  • You left out Costello, who is arguably their best offensive big-man, at 6’9. There’s your match-up problem, right there, especially if Dawson and Schilling are also in the game. And if IU gets into foul trouble…something we’ve avoided all year, for the most part, MSU could really use their size to their own advantage.

  • ForeverIU

    These types of injuries are my absolute nightmare, and my only nightmare. Teams will get frustrated with our offense and commit the unspeakable.

  • ForeverIU

    In principle I agree, and we should at least have the EH and HMP duo together in the game as a weapon in certain game situations and match-ups, but I don’t think it will be done unless our team has gotten experience playing with such a combination, both in practice and actual games. I don’t know, but I wonder how much our situation in practice scrimmages is a factor, but I would think our most effective practices are those that put EH and HMP against each other on opposing teams. Who else can these two go up against in practice if not each other. Devin is out for now, and Jeremiah and Tim are simply not ready to be a challenge in practice. I would imagine some or most, if not all, the teams you mentioned that play two bigs together have the luxury of practicing with both bigs playing on the same team in practice sessions (because they have competent bigs for them to go up against against). Again, I’m just trying to understand CTC’s logic here, and I’m sure he has good reason to do what he’s doing.

    Btw, I want to be clear, I’m not wedded to any particular team configuration here, and I’m certainly not one to use the fact that we’re winning to justify current lineups and to quiet critics. What is interesting to me here is the discussion about the various lineups and strategies.

    But I do want to understand one thing. When EH and HMP are in the game together, are you saying that the first out would be Troy? In my calculations I always think of him as a mainstay of our team.

  • ForeverIU

    We also will have played eight B1G games before facing Wisconsin, but so will they, lol. We’ll see. Maybe apart from Rutgers, evey B1G team is at once dangerous and beatable.

  • ForeverIU

    And Troy was good in the first half until he got in foul trouble.

  • ForeverIU

    I mostly like your posts Clyde, but different people have different ways of celebrating and caring about our team and IU basketball. As long as they are making balanced and rational analyses and arguments, then let their voices be heard and debated. What I do hope is that when we lose, we are also not attacked for defending our coaching choices and strategies during a loss (if we choose to do so).


    Correct the other team doing that is a pretty big compliment to that player. What makes it an even bigger compliment for that player doing exactly what Yogi did and didn’t do, set others, especially HMP, up and not force shots. Crean is right when he says that he doesn’t get near the credit he deserves.


    Plus the other team doesn’t score off of rebounding their own misses and doesn’t score as easily at the rim. We give something up with having HMP and EH on the floor at the same time, but it’s not like we don’t gain anything either. Against certain teams I think we gain even more than what I just described and in places that are in areas where we are most exposed at against those certain teams.


    If they go big like that and it starts hurting us might be a good time to try the, HMP and EH both on the floor at the same time, experiment.

  • FinEndNow

    Costello comes off the bench. Im just talking about the starters. Johnson vs Valentine is the biggest mismatch. Valentine is a bit bigger and crafty on offense. RJ is going to have to man up on the defensive end. Izzo may put Valentine in the post with Yogi, JBJ or RJ on him.

  • SCHoosier

    Forbes can really shoot the 3 if left open..need I say more? I think Hanner will be effective in the paint against this version of the Spartans. They will want to run with TO’s come into the picture big time.

  • Ken

    At this point, I don’t know why we can’t be considered a top 3 team in the B1G.