Notebook: Hoosiers rebound in 69-66 win over Ohio State

  • 01/10/2015 5:52 pm in

Early in Indiana’s 69-66 win over Ohio State on Saturday, it was clear the Hoosiers’ path to victory would not be as it had been in previous games this season.

The Hoosiers trailed, 9-2. They had turned the ball over five times in less than 4:30 of game time. They were shooting 1-for-4 from the field. Offense wouldn’t be a given against the Buckeyes.

Instead, it was the Hoosiers’ defense — forcing an Ohio State 23-of-67 shooting performance and a 3-of-21 mark from behind the arc — sparking the win, as they improved to a 12-4 record and 2-1 mark in Big Ten play in front of an announced 15,563 at Assembly Hall.

“I would say our defense is what changed the game,” sophomore Troy Williams said. “As soon as we picked it up on defense, our defense led to our offense, and then after that, everything started to fall into place. We started to get into our flow. We started to get scoring runs and getting more and more rebounds and then pushing and starting the break.”

Before the Hoosiers even stepped onto the court against the Buckeyes, Indiana coach Tom Crean prepared his team for a lack of offensive rhythm. “They are not going to give you a fluid offensive game,” Crean said. He told his players they would have to create momentum through rebounding.

After the Hoosiers trailed 9-2, they took control of the boards. By the 6:15 mark of the first half, they established a 21-9 rebounding edge, including six offensive boards. The Hoosiers turned the game around and led, 24-15.

“Our shots were not falling for us but we picked up the slack on defense and that really gave us the push that we needed,” freshman Emmitt Holt said. “Got out on the break. Got easy buckets.”

By halftime, the Hoosiers had established a 30-15 rebounding edge and had 11 offensive boards. They had 12 second-chance points to the Buckeyes’ four. And while the Hoosiers had nine turnovers, the Buckeyes had scored just six points off them. Indiana was getting stops.

The trend continued into the second half, despite an Ohio State comeback late. The Hoosiers continued to make stops — the Buckeyes shot just 35 percent in the second half and just 1-of-9 from 3-point range — and they continued to convert inside, shooting 57.9 percent on 2s in the final 20 minutes.

And as the game went to the free throw line in the closing minutes, the Hoosiers did not falter despite turnovers and fouls — finishing the game 9-of-9 at the line in the last 3:32.

“That was a hard-fought victory and we knew it would be,” Crean said. “Any time you’re playing Ohio State, you’re going to have to play through a lot of things. You’re going to have to play through some momentum swings and you’re going to have to play through some lulls.”

“We knew we needed to win the rebound game; we did by nine. We wanted to win the free throw attempt game; we won that by one. We had to have excellent three-point defense. Marc Loving was shooting 62 percent from three on the road. D’Angelo Russell was shooting, I believe, 53 percent in wins for them from the three. And to hold those two to 1-of-10 and you add Kam Williams, who is a tremendous shooter in his own right, was a key for us.”

Blackmon ends scoring slump with 18-point performance

Early in the second half, freshman James Blackmon Jr. scored his fourth point of the afternoon on a layup. He followed it on the following possession with a 3-pointer in transition.

Those two baskets went on to spark Blackmon Jr., who finished with 18 points and seven rebounds in the Hoosiers’ win over the Buckeyes.

“James, he’s right there on the first couple lines of the scouting report, there’s no doubt about that, with the opponent,” Crean said. “So everybody knows that he’s capable of shooting. But for him to continue to play when he went back in, he knew he needed to play better defense, and that’s growth for James. For James to find layups and drive, foul, get three offensive rebounds, that’s the growth we’ve got to have. And I thought he did a really good job of adjusting, as did Troy.”

Blackmon’s shooting struggles heading into Saturday’s game were obvious: In his previous seven games, his 3-point shooting percentage was down more than 27 percentage points. In his previous six, his 2-point shooting percentage was down more than 27 percentage points as well.

But against the Buckeyes, Blackmon was “back in rhythm,” finishing 6-of-13 from the field and 5-of-5 at the free throw line.

“I just have to do other things to get me going,” Blackmon said. “Like today I hit the glass, started rebounding, and that got me going. I got a couple easy buckets and then I was back in rhythm.”

Williams bounces back with double double

After Monday’s loss at Michigan State in which Williams finished with no points and just one rebound, the sophomore forward said to himself he was never going to let that happen again. Crean said Williams was “embarrassed.”

Through one game, Williams has stayed true to his promise. He scored 15 points and recorded a career-high 12 rebounds in 31 minutes of action against the Buckeyes.

“Going into Michigan State I didn’t have the mindset I had going into this game,” Williams said. “It was more just like, I was out of it, just didn’t have any edge to me.

“In this game and the practices that led up to this game, I decided that’s never going to happen again with me and I’m not going to let my team let down again because I know who gives energy to my team the most. I just came into this game and brought energy to it.”

The result included three offensive rebounds, three assists, a block and multiple highlight-reel plays — including ones that Crean didn’t even expect.

“When he’s locked in, when he’s coming up with some things during the game, I’m not filtering it — I’m saying, okay, let’s do it,” Crean said. “Because he sees the game. You know, he sees the game, he really does. That’s why we’re on him so hard to be better because he really has tremendous basketball sense.”

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  • cooper

    Good win. I don’t know if it was the D or what but OSU did not play a good game on either end. IU didn’t play that great either which makes the win better. Still have to see something more from the bigs. HMP is not going to get better. It’s like expecting your gf of 3 years to change all of a sudden. It isn’t happening.

    Still need to gain some consistency. If they do they have a chance to be much better in a down year for the conference. Hopefully there are a few undecided big recruits who see this and see his much playing time they could get. If we could get a player like that we could be really good next year.

  • RU4IU2

    Are you kidding me? Any of the remaining quality bigs in the ’15 class who watched this game should be smart to figure out that IU’s offense doesn’t play THROUGH or FEATURE big man

  • Eastwood88_2

    Last year NV didn’t score what he did on put backs. We have no one to throw the ball to. I will agree a scoring big doesn’t fit this team. We need a rim protector who rebounds and can pass. When the ball guys thru the lane, it opens up the outside

  • Ivy Walls

    The game showed a few things developing. IU is beginning to figure out how to deny an opposition’s path to score, Holt is emerging as a post defender and glass defender/bounder. They still make STUPID decisions and still stand around when they need to move and force the defense to adjust, but they have some potential. They have a chance to win two more and look up at 4-1 in conference.

  • MillaRed

    Attempted to read through The Minute After. Disappointed in what I saw. I’m not in here as much as I used to be, and I’m far from perefct but man. We are all rooting for the same team. People going after each other like that isn’t fun to watch.

    Do the future Hoosier fans looking for a blog want to see that and jump into those discussions? We are ALL Hoosiers! Try to remember that. Peace!!!

  • sd chuck

    Hope they take Penn St serious! Seems like they play hard against the good teams then have a let down against teams they should beat. This could be a trap game, we need a win, there will be no easy games, they need to act like they are playing a top 25 team.

  • cooper

    There are plenty of bigs who play out on the wing and score. Look at Louisville. Harrell is 6’8 240 and gets up and down the court. We aren’t winning a title with this type of team because we don’t get enough great guard recruits.

  • RU4IU2

    You take a team of Michael Jordan-type players and give me a team of Earvin “Magic” Johnson-types and I win 99 out of 100. Johnson could and DID play all 5 positions w/the Lakers. Jordan played 1.
    I’ve got a reasonably good memory for an old fart, but I’d be hard pressed to name the last B1G regular season or tournament winner or for that matter the last NCAA champion which didn’t have at least one big man who was purposefully INVOLVED in their offense on a consistent basis. In today’s vernacular, you ain’t gonna hang a banner with a roster full of great guards…there won’t be enough balls in play to keep ’em happy, and most of the incoming recruits suck on D because it’s hard work…and doesn’t get much ink and even less air time when the ESPN Highlights are shown. Recall the last great steal or block they showed? (Me neither.)

  • RU4IU2

    Rutgers beats Wisconsin by 5. Anyone who considered the Scarlet Knights to be automatic “W’s” might want to re-visit their decision…this league is fast becoming a head scratcher in so many ways.

  • RU4IU2

    I agree and to some extent have been a little more vociferous than normal. Problems arise when some (who have come to believe that only their opinion is right) offer an opinion and then take the conversation one step further by attacking the other poster in a personal way by insinuating, implying or flat out stating that anyone who disagrees is either crazy, out of touch with reality, a fair weather fan, a Debbie Downer, or some other derogatory term/phrase. Some people see the glass half full, some half-empty and some don’t care as long as there is a glass with something in it. I don’t believe that any of us can actually impact or affect how a player plays or how the coaches coach. We exchange thoughts and opinions about our Hoosiers. It might help to reflect that in the final analysis, these are just games–not matters of life and death…

  • enickman

    Frank Kaminsky didn’t play. May have impacted the outcome had he been in there?

  • RU4IU2

    Didn’t see that…I’d say his absence was just a little more than “significant” in their loss. Thanks for the note!

  • CreamandCrimson

    Yeah, not having the best player in the league and one of the best in the nation is a very significant loss. In addition, Jackson went down in the first half with a foot injury (no word on severity, as far as I know). That being said, you are correct, Rutgers can’t be considered an automatic “W”…they’ve already gotten a pair of wins in league play, roughly 1 or 2 more than I was expecting them to get all year.