Notebook: Hoosiers capture second road win at Ohio State

  • 03/05/2017 7:17 am in

Indiana traveled to Ohio State looking for just its second road win of the season on Saturday.

Through the first 20 minutes, the IU offense looked like it would run away with a comfortable victory. But things got complicated in the second half and the Hoosiers had to rely on free throws late in the game to lock down a 96-92 win.

The Buckeyes were playing catch up for most of the afternoon, but managed to erase an 18-point deficit before the halfway point of the second half. IU started strong offensively but faded slightly after halftime, almost begging a lifeless Ohio State team to make it interesting.

With three minutes remaining, IU’s commanding 10-point lead was threatened again and again. However this time, the Hoosiers came out on top in a game that went down to the wire.

“It was good for our guys to see that we could make the stops when we needed,” Tom Crean said postgame. “They were really locked in. The first step on defense and the ball movement were great. They never brought any panic and showed tremendous confidence.”

IU’s execution in the final minutes was an improvement after a stretch in which Indiana lost five straight by an average of 5.8 points.

Hoosiers finally fix Achilles’ heel

Turnovers have been an issue all season for Indiana. But when the Hoosiers are able to control them, they’re a different team. The Hoosiers gave up just 12 points off of 12 turnovers.

IU left Columbus with a victory because it took care of the ball for the full 40 minutes and cut back on careless passing. Robert Johnson did not commit a single turnover in his 36 minutes of play.

Crean said postgame if they would have played at 8 a.m. instead of noon, it didn’t matter. IU would have been ready. Indiana did what it has desperately needed to do all season, limit turnovers and let its offense shine.

Starters carry offensive load

IU dominated in the first half, shooting 64.7 percent from the field. Johnson, James Blackmon Jr., Thomas Bryant, Josh Newkirk and Juwan Morgan combined for 93 of the team’s 96 points.

IU’s lone bucket off the bench came from a 3-pointer by Devonte Green.

Indiana was back to its old ways, hitting 52.2 percent from behind the arc on 12-of-23 shooting from the outside.

The Hoosiers also shot 16-of-22 from the free  throw line and Morgan, Newkirk and Blackmon made 10-of-14 free throws in the last 1:17 of play.

Johnson shoots his way out of slump

After a string of quiet offensive performances from Johnson, he finally broke out of his slump. In his best game of the season, Johnson dished out 26 points on 10-of-17 shooting from the field. He also added six assists and six rebounds.

“I’m really happy for him because that’s the kind of player that he is,” Crean said of Johnson. “It’s unfortunate that’s not always seen when he’s missing some shots. It was absolutely fun to watch him play today.”

Johnson, combined with Newkirk and Blackmon, stepped up and contributed 66 of IU’s 96 points and just six total turnovers.

“We’re a get-well card for guys,” Thad Matta said postgame of Johnson’s shooting. “If you’re struggling, play Ohio State and you get out of your slump just like that.”

Despite leading for 36:47, it seemed the same question remained— not if the Hoosiers would collapse and lose their lead, but how the Hoosiers would do it this time.

But this time, it was different.

Indiana did all the little things right and managed to come away with the victory. Even though it’s almost too little too late for the Hoosiers, Saturday showed a side of what IU should look like with all the pieces working together.

“With a team like us we can get hot fast,” Blackmon said. “So it can be the start of a run if we all buy in to it.”

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  • Fifer39

    Wow, I didn’t even realise the stat about only 3pts off the bench. That’s astonishing – not necessarily in a bad way, but astonishing in a 96pt game.

    Not much else other than those 3pts off the bench for DG in his stat line, but every time I see him now I’m excited about the player I think he can become.

  • Larry Brown

    Yes, whereas CuJo gets my vote for most likely to transfer

  • Fifer39

    Well possibly, but I hope not. We could soon start looking very short on upperclassmen in the backcourt after next year so hope CuJo takes a longer term view.

  • TomJameson

    I hope not. Curtis is a very good shooter, he just hasn’t quite made the transition to CBB, and the B1G. After he goes through a year of conditioning, weight training, and working on his skills (shooting), he is going to be very good for IU. I think with him included, the guards will be okay next year. Probably need one more to round it out, but it’ll be okay as it stands.

    I think there will be plenty of players transferring to get the recruits we want, just don’t want to let the good ones go.

  • TomJameson

    Exactly!

  • The Lights Go Down

    I think “Hoosiers finally fix Achilles’ heel” is a bit premature, since they had a 9 TO game not that long ago. I won’t consider that issue fixed until they can put together multiple games of 10 or less.

  • just a fan

    Remember that in his freshman year Yogi was about as likely to shoot as a certain transfer we have who won’t pull the trigger to save his life. Love the (both JR & CJ’s) enthusiastic play, but don’t make the rest of the team play five-on-four.

  • Fifer39

    Sorry, not sure I follow. Are you saying CJs reluctance to shoot is hurting us? He’s certainly not been shooting great but not sure I saw reluctance rather than just maybe a lack of confidence. By JR do you mean Freddie McS?

  • just a fan

    I can’t figure how you got from Roberts to McSwain, they really don’t look too much alike. What frustrates me is that Roberts passes up every wide open look, and without pulling up his stats it seems like he’s taken all of three shots this year. McSwain will at least do a put-back on a rebound, even if he won’t take a jump shot. We were told early-on that he was still transitioning from football to roundball, so I’m more than willing to cut him slack Smart kid. CJ, sure he’s made some freshman mistakes, but he’ll improve each year. I want him back.

  • Fifer39

    OK, I think I’ve worked out you mean Zach McRoberts. Not sure how you got to JR from ZM, LOL. ZM (Roberts to you) is mainly in to add some hustle, especially defensively. Sure he doesn’t shoot much but he had 3 assts in 15 minutes yesterday. He’s really not hurting us on offense.