Thoughts on an 82-54 win over Ottawa:
The University of Ottawa cut Indiana’s second half lead to only six points. The Gee-Gees had just hit three 3-pointers in their past five trips down the floor, making it a two-possession game with 9:13 to go on Tuesday night in the Hoosiers’ first exhibition of the season.
So, how did the Hoosiers respond against the only team it lost to during last summer’s exhibition tour of Canada? By simply going on a 25-3 run to close out the game, leading to an 82-54 Hoosiers win.
A variety of players contributed to the late-game surge — including freshman Thomas Bryant’s initial two offensive rebounds and put-back layup to back-to-back 3-pointers from James Blackmon Jr. and Yogi Ferrell. But the crux of the game focused on the Hoosiers fixing their previous errors during Tuesday night’s game.
The first half was a shadow of last season’s performance: a fast-paced offense leading to easy and exciting points in transition but also turnovers and overthrown passes, and a defense that at times was shut-down with blocked shots and turnovers produced but also one prone to overcommitting and allowing open shots.
Indiana led at halftime, 40-32, but the Hoosiers had turned the ball over 13 times and allowed the Gee-Gees to be in the bonus from the 7:23 mark of the opening half. But in the same token, the Hoosiers led in rebounds, 24-15, and they forced their opponents — who were averaging more than 13 3-pointers per game — into just a 2-for-11 mark from behind the arc.
Tom Crean also was not afraid to experiment with different lineups, as well — something he said he was open to doing on Monday. At one point, Hoosier lineups included Robert Johnson, Juwan Morgan, O.G. Anunoby, Nick Zeisloft and Collin Hartman (who played as he continues to recover from a rib injury), and another with Ferrell, Blackmon, Zeisloft, Anunoby and Ryan Burton.
To start the second half, the Hoosiers continued to make things difficult for the Gee-Gees offensively. They played compact defense and protected the paint — the Hoosiers had four second half blocks — while also ensuring their opponents were not getting quality looks from behind the arc. And after the Hoosiers’ defense did allow those three 3-pointers in a stretch of about three minutes, the Gee-Gees would not score again from behind the arc.
After Bryant’s two offensive boards and put-back put the Hoosiers back up by eight points, the freshman grabbed a defensive rebound at the other end and blocked a Mike L’Africain jumper on Ottawa’s next possession to force a turnover. In just his first college game, he finished with 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds.
But the storyline throughout Indiana’s 25-3 game-ending run was that it played the way it needed to in order to win. The Hoosiers turned the ball over just once. Players found open teammates for open shots. The defense stayed compact and aggressive. Ottawa finished just 5-for-26 on 3-pointers on the evening.
Put simply, the Hoosiers had their opportunity to pounce on the Gee-Gees. And they did just that.
Filed to: Ottawa Gee-Gees