Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Illinois

  • 01/18/2015 5:13 pm in

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. – Indiana moved to 14-4 overall and 4-1 in Big Ten play on Sunday afternoon with an 80-74 win over Illinois at the State Farm Center.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Fighting Illini:

· Indiana made the most important run of the afternoon: On an afternoon where there were numerous runs, the Hoosiers made the final one and as a result, won the game. After Illinois ripped off a 21-2 run to claim a 9-point lead midway through the second half, things stabilized as both teams traded baskets for roughly a seven-minute stretch.

Illinois looked to have control of things after a Kendrick Nunn 3-pointer pushed the lead to 72-67 with 3:20 to play, but from there it was all Indiana. The Hoosiers closed the game on a 13-2 run to claim their second Big Ten road win in three tries.

Tom Crean said Indiana never got down despite Illinois runs of 14-3, 11-0 and 21-2 throughout the afternoon.

“There were a lot of different things going on in the game,” Crean said. “So once they adjusted to something, you’ve got to be able to go to something else. And because the ball was moving, the screens were good, the cutting was good, the spacing was good, we were able to do that.”

· James Blackmon Jr. had his best Big Ten game: IU’s star freshman had struggled with his shooting through the first four Big Ten contests, but he reversed the trend in a hostile environment. Blackmon Jr. came into Sunday shooting just 23.4 percent on 3s in league play, but he hit four of his six attempts from distance on his way to 21 points.

But perhaps more importantly, Blackmon Jr. also had seven rebounds and played solid defense down the stretch.

“Really it was just the same as every game,” Blackmon Jr. explained. “I just wanted to stay confident in my shot because every time I miss, I need to keep my composure because the next one is going to go in. That’s my mindset.”

· Illinois had no answer for Troy Williams: We’ve seen the great version of Troy Williams in several games this season and we’ve also seen the not so great version, most recently in IU’s loss at Michigan State.

Sunday’s performance from the sophomore wing belongs in the great category because he impacted the game in a variety of ways. He was efficient from the field (8-of-10) and the foul line (5-of-6) and very good on the glass with nine rebounds, including three on the offensive end. His offensive rebound off a Yogi Ferrell miss and putback with 1:24 to play gave the Hoosiers the lead for good.

“That was just a reaction,” Williams said of the putback. “All athleticism and a reaction. It just happened to go in for me.”

· Zeisloft shines in his home state: Redshirt junior Nick Zeisloft started the season in the starting lineup but has carved out a role as a capable shooter and a leader off of the bench.

After eight points in a win over Ohio State, Zeisloft was scoreless in nine minutes against Penn State. But that didn’t deter Crean from calling Zeisloft’s number early in the first half on Sunday and his second three gave Indiana a 17-16 lead at the 11:33 mark.

The Illinois State transfer and La Grange, Ill., native was also crucial late as he answered Nunn’s 3-pointer that put Illinois up five with a triple of his own to trim the lead back to two at 72-70.

“Certainly if there was one guy who wanted to come play well at Illinois, it was Nick Zeisloft,” Crean said.

· Don’t forget about the other guys: Although both Blackmon Jr. and Williams combined for more than half of Indiana’s 80 points, there were plenty of other standout performances that may not have stood out so much on the stat sheet.

Start with Ferrell, who hit just one of his nine shot attempts but had nine assists and just one turnover in a team-high 38 minutes. Through five Big Ten games, Ferrell now has 28 assists and just nine turnovers.

Collin Hartman started at the five and guarded 6-foot-11 Nnanna Egwu for much of the afternoon. Egwu went scoreless and fouled out in 27 minutes.

And freshman Max Hoetzel provided a first half offensive boost with six points in five minutes. Hoetzel continues to exhibit confidence off the bench despite playing limited minutes thus far in league play.

(Photo credit: Mike Granse-USA TODAY Sports)

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  • IUMIKE1

    Ah, hell yes !!

  • Blair McKee

    Yogi is a world-class floor general.

  • yaman22

    I was thinking Sam Dekker, I think Max is going to be a really good player over the next few years. Plays with a lot of confidence, good shooter, and way more athletic than I thought he would be when they signed him !

  • TomJameson

    Well … all I can say is that I respect your opinion. LOL Seriously, I think it’s a matter of degree, and I think you said that. As we get better at switching we get burnt less. I think we’ve been taken advantage of 3 times I remember, but I’m sure I’ve missed some. But I certainly think it’s been to our advantage more times than not.

  • Florida Girl

    It would be a mistake for him to go this year. The draft is loaded, financially it would be better for him to wait a year.

  • KmanCRK

    I love the confidence our guys are playing with. Guys come off the bench ready to change the game.

    If these guys can continue to play an unselfish brand of bball, the ceiling is higher than most thought was possible.

    Troy is a beast without the ball.

  • KmanCRK

    His rebounding this year has been crucial. Often overlooked, but I feel like he’s been averaging 6-7 rebounds almost every game. He’s obviously listening to Crean. I think it shows how smart he is too. He just knows where to go when the ball is in the air.

  • KmanCRK

    without charting the game and knowing how many times it was successful vs. unsuccessful, its hard to really have an opinion. For all I know, our 7 stops in a row earlier in the game were a result of this.

  • KmanCRK

    Can someone put up a post at least weekly of Dakich’s college coaching record? He’s got all of the answers, but none of the W’s.

  • KmanCRK

    Depends who is in his ear. Lots of guys leave early just to be a 2nd round pick. Look at G. Robinson III last year from UM. He never should’ve left early in my opinion. But even in the 2nd round, its big time money.

  • KmanCRK

    I’m hoping Maryland learns on Thursday how bad Big Ten officiating is on the road.

  • TomJameson

    What!!?? You mean to tell me that opinions should rely on facts, or that facts could somehow alter an opinion? I know that when Dakich was calling the game he seemed to point out every time that happened to IU.. think it was 2 or 3 times. But you are absolutely right, no official stats for that and I’m not going to go back through the game again. LOL

  • IUMIKE1

    I wish I had the games taped so that I could go back and look at this and some other some things, but I don’t. I venture to guess that we got burnt by doing this 3 times in just the Ohio State game, but without the benefit of being able to go back and rewatch, it is just me going by memory. Do you have the luxury of being able to review past games ? I would really like to know, the number of times getting burnt in relation to the number of times it turned out to being a steal, bad shot type situation. Regardless, if I was betting I’d have to say getting burnt outnumbers the positives by quite a bit, and it wouldn’t be the first time I’ve lost a bet and it probably wouldn’t be the last time. lol Also, as long as it doesn’t end up being a situation where we gave up 2 or 3 easy baskets by doing it and then lose by 1 to 3 points I guess we can only get better at it and it gives the other team one more thing to have to prepare for.