Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Illinois

  • 01/07/2017 10:31 pm in

Indiana’s three-game losing streak came to a halt on Saturday night as the Hoosiers beat Illinois, 96-80, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The win moved Indiana to 11-5 overall and 1-2 in the Big Ten.

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

· Indiana comes out with a barrage on both ends: After sleepwalking to start in Tuesday’s loss to Wisconsin, Indiana put the hammer down on Illinois from the opening tip.

The Hoosiers scored the game’s first 15 points and every starter was involved. The first 13 points came before IU had any turnovers. In the first half, the Hoosiers committed just four turnovers.

So what was different?

Indiana came out and defended early. In the game’s first six minutes, Illinois didn’t really come close to scoring as IU challenged shots and didn’t allow opportunities for second chance points. Offensively, Indiana moved the ball and found the open man. IU’s first three baskets of the game were assisted. For the game, 22 of IU’s 29 field goals were assisted.

And even though the defense wasn’t nearly as good in the second half, this was a game the Hoosiers controlled from start to finish. Coming off of three straight losses, it was progress.

· Big games from Blackmon Jr., Johnson: There haven’t been many games of late where James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson were both clicking offensively. But Saturday, that’s exactly what happened.

Blackmon Jr. poured in a game-high 25 points and Johnson wasn’t far behind with 18 of his own. The duo combined to hit 7-of-13 on 3s. Their success also helped to open things up inside the arc for Thomas Bryant, who also had a big game offensively.

“It gives us a big boost out there on the court because when those guys are hitting, it opens a lot more stuff up for me, OG (Anunoby), the bench,” Bryant said. “And they have to put so much time and effort on those two, it opens up the floor that much for all of us.”

· Bryant breaks out with season-high: Coming into Saturday, Bryant was averaging just 9.8 points over his last four games. His volume of shots didn’t increase against Illinois, but Bryant’s efficiency did.

The sophomore forward made all six of his field goal attempts, including 2-of-2 on 3s, and also hit 6-of-8 free throws to finish with 20 points, a season-high.

“Thomas is getting more fundamental around the rim,” Tom Crean said. “He’s getting more fundamental on the drive and more fundamental on the 3. And he’s getting better with his free throw shooting. And then he’s got to work that much harder tomorrow to keep that going.”

· Defense starts strong and then fades in the second half: It was a tale of two halves defensively for Indiana.

In the first half, Indiana held Illinois just 29 points and .86 points per possession. The second half, however, was a different story. The Fighting Illini scored 51 points for 1.46 points per possession.

It’s hard to nitpick in a game where Indiana won so convincingly, but through three games, Indiana is tied with Illinois for the worst defensive efficiency in the conference. The Hoosiers are scoring a Big Ten best 1.23 points per possession, but allowing 1.20 points per trip.

· Fouls, fouls and more fouls: As fun as Indiana’s 15-0 start was to watch, the flow of the game was severely disrupted by the number of fouls called.

There were 49 total, including 28 in the second half. Indiana was whistled for 28 fouls and had Juwan Morgan foul out (in nine minutes). Four others finished the game with four fouls.

Despite all of the whistles and personnel moving on and off the floor with foul trouble, Indiana managed to score 1.41 points per possession. That’s the most Illinois has given up in a game this season.

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  • vicbert caladipo

    A win is a win is a win. Bring on Maryland.

  • inLinE6

    I know it’s a big game for him, at least offensively, but Blackmon still can’t guard a chair.

  • BMusic

    It was fun to watch the Hoosiers take care of business in such a workmanlike fashion. The offense looked more confident. Players mostly did what they do best. Can’t complain.

  • PBzeer

    A number of positives to take from the game, but it’s still only stopping the bleeding. We already knew we could play well when the shots are falling, the question now is, what happens when they aren’t? Saw encouraging signs, but also signs that are not so encouraging.

  • Shaggy_C

    I was a little surprised that in the box score Davis got so little time on the court. 8 minutes In a game that was so one-sided seemed like a lost opportunity to get him more PT. Great that he was able to get 6 points without a single fg attempted though (tells me he was playing smart and getting to the line), and he made all of his free throws. Not a bad day’s work. His continued improvement may well be the difference-maker this season.

  • Fifer39

    Won’t get a chance to watch the game until later but I was also surprised about DD but I’m guessing it was foul trouble that kept him benched a bit more. I was also surprised TC went 11 deep again but I’m putting that down to a combination of foul trouble and the big lead early. I’ll be interested to see the rotations on the floor when UI was making a run in the second half.

  • pcantidote

    You sure can parrot talking points too.

  • pcantidote

    Hopefully they gained a little confidence before a big B1G road test. Maryland is way younger than us so that excuse won’t fly. Need to impose our will.

  • Ms hoosier

    Totally agree. I want to wait and see how this team responds Tuesday against Maryland on the road. It’s easier to come out energized and ready to play at home when you know that the crowd is on your side but it’s a lot different on the road when the crowd is not in your corner!! For me to get too hyped about this team they are gonna have to show that they can go on the road and bust teams in the mouth and grind out a win!! Go Hoosiers!!

  • SCHoosier

    Good defense..outstanding ball movement WITH THE PASS in the first half…gave the Hoosiers a great start. Got sloppy the second half..back to too much dribbling but at home..U can hit the shots (or should) that get you back from a lull..and the Hoosiers did., Good to see TB actually play the post. The trip to MD will tell us something..I hope its good. IU plays the second half defense. seen against ILL .and we come home with a L.

  • Yes, fouls were ridiculous. The was absolutely a game where depth was valuable due to foul trouble. I think McSwain and McRoberts saw the floor this time around mainly to absorb a couple whistles–although McRoberts actually played a strong game. As an aside, if he’d be more willing to shoot when wide open, he could become an even more regular part of the rotation.

  • I’d say in this particular game, the shots were falling because we were moving the ball well and getting open shots. So, it’s a little bit of a chicken and egg question, but I don’t think it was simply “we shot well so we won” but also a little “our ball movement was good so we shot well so we won.” And, can’t forget the transition offense off the good defense in the first quarter.

  • Sandra Wilson

    While a good first half defensive performance statistically, remember that Hill picked up 3 fouls and sat for much of it….I did think we definitely worked harder at it than usual, but the second half was pretty much our norm…..I still can’t figure out what we’re trying to do on defense…..We show them the baseline, then try to cut it off…..Usually, that leads to us fouling or he gets thru and no one rotates over…..If we do help, the help side man (free throw line area) never drops to take away the pass under the basket…..You just have to shake your head about a lot of areas like this…..I think PBzeer is correct…..No optimism until they come away with a WIN at Maryland…..Not close, a WIN!

  • Sandra Wilson

    TB was better because he played in the post or caught and shot from 3…..When he puts the ball on the floor, he’s a turnover machine.

  • kelton drewery

    Agreed, I wish everyone had the effort and hustle ZM shows.

  • nnmns

    If Hill had been in longer we’d have run out of players and lost. I don’t know what to do about a guy like him but I hope one of our entourage of former head coaches does. Getting him in foul trouble works; maybe that was intentional. I hope so.

  • PBzeer

    Be helpful if he shot more, but yesterday he had 3 assists, 1 offensive reb, and no TO’s in 8 minutes of play. That’s not exactly hurting the offense.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I saw where he still put the ball on the floor a few times. He got away with it cuz Ill isn’t even close to as good a defensive team as UW and UL.

  • And he had at least one pure hustle play where he saved a possession that led directly to a JBJ layup. I don’t think that was one of his assists, because he deflected the ball after a UI defensive rebound and batted it back into play where JBJ grabbed it.

    Honestly, I don’t get why some people complain about McRoberts’ playing time. He’s the epitome of hard-nosed Hoosier basketball player whose effort magnifies his relatively limited talent.

  • BL4IU

    Or he made better decisions not doing it in traffic or when double teamed.

  • RDD#76

    He had 4 fouls or he would have played more

  • mharv2631

    I hate Kentucky!! Have a great day everyone.

  • ForeverIU

    It would be nice if Wisconsin can beat the Toiletmakers in their own toilet today.

  • vicbert caladipo

    PEEYOOO something stinks. I hate both teams but have a special hate reserved only for the west Lafayette ____________________s? Be creative when filling in the blank.

  • ForeverIU

    I used a bad word, which I thought had become part of semi-respectable parlance, and now my comment is awaiting approval. LOL.

  • vicbert caladipo

    My name is Vicbert and I approve of this message. Brought to you by the committee to elect Vicbert Caladipo, thread moderator.

  • ForeverIU

    Your name is Vicbert, and you are a troublemaker. You would make a cool moderator though. Your job would be very easy. LOL.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Troublemaker?? That’s a cousin to Boilermaker. Not sure I endorse that but I would be a good moderator. Is there a 401K with the job?

  • Bruce Clark

    Any Big Ten conference win is a good win. TC very much needs to figure out how to get OG and JM playing off each other better. JBJ and RJ looked good but why no more time for CuJo?

    Good to have Greene back.

  • Piker

    That’s what I saw only one concern he still had his head down on the couple dribbles he did

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Alex, that is a great picture of Thomas. What a wonderful young man.

  • Piker

    But remember DD and JM played only 9 minutes apiece due to fouls.

  • BL4IU

    Yeah, he’s far from rock solid but I got the feeling in this game he took a step forward recognizing better opportunities. Still a young sophomore.

  • cbags05

    My #1 takeaway is that we almost let them back in it. This team had a fire lit under it to start as you would expect. They have to sustain it.

    It is clear to me at this point that TB is being coached to play the perimeter. OG posted on the block more than TB. Maybe this will work in the end…

  • IU_theoracle

    I don’t know what game everyone else was watching but I still saw a number of troubling things from this game. My major issues were that once again Crean played too many players in this game which ultimately allowed Illinois to cut the lead to single digits in the 2nd half. I don’t understand the limited minutes for De’Ron Davis considering how well he has played recently. Thomas Bryant may have scored well, but he still can’t defend and did not play a great game by any means. The offense is still stagnate and the team did not put Illinois away when they had the chances to do so. This game was simply won because IU shot a high percentage. I did love seeing IU jump out to an early lead and playing with fight, but many things need to be improved to have any chance at contending in the Big Ten race.

    Not trying to be a Debbie Downer just stating the facts.

  • AJ_IU_ColtsFan

    So, I was on the road yet again and had to miss this game. What was the cause of the 2nd half letdown I’ve been reading about? Were the players somehow out of sync later in the game? Or was there an adjustment by Illinois that put them all off-balance?

  • Old_Time_Hoosier

    I’m getting the feeling McRoberts wouldn’t shoot it if he was the only player on the floor! Acceptable if you’re an elite defender, but he’s not. Still can’t figure out why he’s getting the minutes he is!