Indiana started off 2013 with an impressive performance as the Hoosiers crushed Penn State 74-51 on Monday night at the Bryce Jordan Center. Here’s a look at five takeaways from IU’s fifth straight win:
· What road problems? Yes, Indiana finished 3-6 last year on the road in the Big Ten. But dating back to last season, the Hoosiers are now 4-1 over their last five true road games and comfortably dispatched of Penn State on Monday. The Nittany Lions might finish in the Big Ten’s cellar, but the win moved IU to 2-0 in the league and most impressive of all, the start to this game left little doubt on the eventual outcome. After trailing 3-2 following a 3-pointer from Brandon Taylor, IU reeled off a 13-0 run and maintained a comfortable margin the rest of the way. Two straight road wins to open the conference season will certainly build confidence from within that this group can continue to win away from Assembly Hall.
· An assertive Watford is a major plus: After IU’s win at Iowa, I wrote that Christian Watford wasn’t the difference in the win, but he was a critical factor. In State College, Watford was even more assertive offensively early than he was in Iowa City. In the game’s opening four minutes, Watford finished two plays at the rim (one of which resulted in a 3-point play) and also buried a 3-pointer. Watford has been criticized frequently for failing to finish plays around the basket, but his field goal percentage at the rim has increased from 54 percent last season to 58 percent so far this year. After failing to record a rebound in IU’s win over Florida Atlantic on Dec. 22, Watford now has 22 rebounds over his last three games.
· Indiana fills it up from the perimeter: It wasn’t nearly the performance put forth last January at Penn State, but IU used the 3-point line efficiently on Monday and it was a collective effort. In total, five different players connected from distance, including Jordan Hulls, who bounced back from an 0-for-10 performance from the field at Iowa. Victor Oladipo connected on his only 3-point attempt and is now at 47.8 percent on the season. Remy Abell continues to take the perimeter shot when it’s available and is now 12-of-20 from outside after shooting just 6-of-15 last season. In total, Indiana now has five players with eleven or more 3-pointers made and Will Sheehey owns the lowest percentage at 39.4.
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 74-51 win over Penn State at the Bryce Jordan Center on Monday night. Watch and listen to the press conference in the embedded media player below:
Tim Gilbert is a sophomore at Penn State majoring in print journalism and is a Daily Collegian copy/wire editor.
Notebook: Watford’s start fuels IU in comfortable road win
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Christian Watford set the tone with a 13-point first half Monday and the Hoosier defense took care of the rest as No. 5 Indiana set down an overmatched Penn State team, 74-51.
Thanks mostly to Watford, the Hoosiers (14-1, 2-0 Big Ten) were hot early against the Nittany Lions (8-6, 0-2).
Indiana led 44-27 at halftime and despite a sloppy second half that included 13 turnovers, the Hoosiers prevailed easily in front of 9,386 at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Eight of the Hoosiers’ first ten points in the game came from Watford.
“We wanted to get him going. We went to him right off the bat,” Tom Crean said. “That was a big part of our gameplan. And he responded.”
Penn State only led once, 3-2 at the 18:20 mark of the first half, but Indiana would quickly get the best of the Lions, reeling off a 13-0 run from there.
“I just wanted to be aggressive, wanted to get in the paint and get some easy buckets to start off,” Watford said. “My teammates did a great job of finding me and we executed some plays and took it from there.”
Though the second half produced a more balanced score (30-24) and Watford only scored three more points, Indiana had an answer every time Penn State scored. The longest run of unanswered points the Lions could muster was six, and the rest of their runs were no greater than 3-0.
“I’m really proud of our team’s effort defensively, on the road, to come in and hold a team to under 32 percent shooting,” Crean said.
When it was all said and done, the Hoosiers outshot the Nittany Lions 52.4 percent to 31.7 percent, with four starters finishing in double figures.
Hulls bounces back
It’s not like senior guard Jordan Hulls to endure an 0-for-10 shooting night, which he did on Dec. 31 in the Hoosiers’ 69-65 win at Iowa.
As such, the senior bounced back in a big way against Penn State, knocking down four of six field goals, including two of three 3-pointers, and finished with 14 points.
“I was in [the gym] quite a bit, yeah,” Hulls said with a laugh, “but nothing really changed. Those games happen and we were able to get a win – that’s all I really care about.”
HD Video: Hulls, Watford react to win at Penn State
STATE COLLEGE, Pa. — Christian Watford (16 points, eight rebounds) and Jordan Hulls (14 points) met with the media following Indiana’s 74-51 win over Penn State on Monday night at the Bryce Jordan Center.
Watch and listen to reaction from both IU seniors in the embedded media players below:
Tim Gilbert is a sophomore at Penn State majoring in print journalism and is a Daily Collegian copy/wire editor.
The Minute After: Penn State
Thoughts on a 74-51 win against the Nittany Lions:
I. Slow starts have befallen the Hoosiers on occasion this season, but save for an early 3-2 deficit, they established themselves as the dominant team from the onset in this one. They were aggressive on both ends of the floor — their patented mix of turning defense into offense in transition and ball movement and making the extra pass in the halfcourt. And the sometimes-energy-deficient Christian Watford was anything but during Indiana’s early stretch which pushed the lead out to double digits — where it remained for much of the night. Watford had eight of Indiana’s first 10 points thanks to a 3-pointer and two scores at the bucket, the second of which he converted into a three-point play after getting fouled.
By half, Watford had 13 points and five boards. By the time he left the floor late in the second half, he had 16 points and eight rebounds on 5-of-8 shooting. When he’s got it going — and specifically when he’s finding the balance between his 3-point shot and looking for opportunities at the bucket — it’s just another thing the opposition is going to have to worry about.
Indiana scored 44 points in the first 20 minutes, had 14 field goals on eight assists, scored 1.28 points per possession and shot 51.9 percent from the floor (6-of-11, 54.5 percent from 3-point range). They also got to the line and shot it well — 10-of-13 for 76.9 percent. Penn State shot just 34.4 percent, scored just .78 points per possession and were clearly giving up some in the talent department.
II. And there was the start of the second half — a sloppy, messy, gross affair. It put this game into quicksand. Indiana only had five turnovers at half; it had eight in just the first 6:47 in the second half. Penn State wasn’t able to gain much of an advantage in this frame of time, however, because it had some issues with the ball of its own (six in that same 6:47 timeframe). (The full tale of the tape on this: Indiana’s 17 turnovers were only converted into nine points on the evening by the Nittany Lions.) This stretch — one in which Indiana scored just six points — was a factor in the Hoosiers not pushing this one up into the 80s for their final tally. The other? the Hoosiers left a decent amount of points at the line, as they shot just 57.1 percent (12-of-21) after halftime. This all meant Indiana scored just .88 points per posession after half, and Penn State a paltry .69.
Cody Zeller was the pick to click winner for Iowa. Full standings will be posted after five games.
Pool for Penn State: All players are eligible to be picked.
Picks are due by 6:45 PM ET on Monday.
A few reminders:
·State the name of the player (not a nickname) that you’re picking. If you use a nickname for a player, your pick will not be counted. Also, please state who you are picking as the first thing in your comment. We’re tracking hundreds of picks per game. It’s more difficult to keep track of everyone’s pick if it’s not the first thing in your comment.
· Please make sure you are using a valid e-mail address if you are not registered.
·Please make sure you are using the same name each time to pick if you are not registered. We are tracking wins by the name you use to submit your pick. If your name changes on a game-to-game basis, credit for your pick will be given to the name used to submit the pick.
Big Ten Power Rankings: January 7
Today we begin our weekly Big Ten power rankings for the 2012-13 conference season.
These power rankings will appear on this site each Monday and will be determined by Inside the Hall reporter Justin Albers. So, without further ado, this week’s edition.
12. Northwestern (9-6, 0-2) … The Wildcats found themselves at No. 9 in Alex Bozich’s non-conference edition of these power rankings, but that was before their pathetic showing in the Big Ten opener against Michigan. Sure, they were playing the best team in the conference (oops!) and the No. 2 team in the country, but the Wildcats lost by 28 points on their home floor. Many teams in the Big Ten are dealing with injuries, but it’s clear losing Drew Crawford has hurt Northwestern more than injuries have hurt other teams.
11. Nebraska (9-6, 0-2) … It’s still sort of hard for me to consider the Cornhuskers part of the Big Ten. It just doesn’t seem right. But anyway, it’s going to be another rough season in Lincoln. Nebraska was blown out in its first conference game, losing at Ohio State by 26, and then it fell to Wisconsin on Sunday afternoon. Oh, and next up for the Cornhuskers: a Wednesday night meeting with Michigan.
10. Penn State (8-5, 0-1) … The Nittany Lions, last in Bozich’s earlier power rankings, opened my eyes with a good showing at Wisconsin in their conference opener. When they lost Tim Frazier (ruptured Achilles) for the season, the Nittany Lions were expected to go to the cellar and stay there. But after a respectable nine-point loss at the Kohl Center, maybe Penn State will offer a little more fight than we thought. The Nittany Lions welcome Indiana to town tonight.
9. Purdue (7-7, 1-1) … This is a tough one because of Purdue’s impressive home win against Illinois, but I believe the Boilermakers belong in this spot. They may be a tough out at home this season, but they are absolutely dreadful on the road, something they proved again in an 84-61 loss at Michigan State on Saturday.
8. Iowa (11-4, 0-2) … You could have made the argument the Hawkeyes belong in the No. 9 spot, but after seeing them in person on New Year’s Eve, I believe they are for real. They took a highly-ranked Indiana team right down to the wire and lost by only four points. They will likely struggle on the road this season because of their many freshmen, but which Big Ten team won’t?
With a week off following a New Year’s Eve win at Carver Hawkeye Arena, the No. 5 Hoosiers will hit the road for State College and a meeting with Penn State. The Nittany Lions (8-5) are coming off a 60-51 loss at Wisconsin on Jan. 3.
The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network with Tom Hamilton and Jim Jackson on the call.
Penn State’s hopes for improvement on last season’s 12-20 campaign were dealt a significant blow when All-Big Ten guard Tim Frazier ruptured his left Achilles in an 85-60 loss to Akron on Nov. 20. Not only was Frazier one of the best backcourt players in the country, he was the essential piece that made Penn State a team that could compete with the league’s best. As a junior, Frazier posted the second best assist rate in the country while averaging 18.8 points per game. Without him, Penn State’s path to wins in the country’s toughest conference appears to be daunting.
So how has Penn State fared without Frazier? 6-3 with losses to Boston College (home), La Salle (neutral) and Wisconsin (road). If there’s a silver lining for Pat Chambers as he works relentlessly to build his program, it’s the fact that his current group will gain a year of experience and will then get the chance to make a jump next season with Frazier back in the fold.
Frazier’s absence has forced sophomore guard D.J. Newbill (pictured), a transfer from Southern Miss, and junior guard Jermaine Marshall into larger roles than anticipated. Newbill is the team’s leading scorer at 15.5 points per game and Marshall is not far behind at 14.9 points per game, but neither player is particularly efficient.
Newbill has struggled from behind the 3-point line (7-of-29), but is drawing 6.2 fouls per 40 minutes and is fifth in the Big Ten with a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 54.1. The fruits of Newbill getting to the line have been diminished a bit by the fact that he’s hitting just 65 percent of his attempts. He’s also been effective on the glass as he’s averaging 6.3 rebounds per game, good for second on the team.
Marshall has been slightly better percentage wise (32.4) from behind the 3-point line, but is taking nearly 5.5 attempts from distance per game. His steal percentage (3.7) ranks sixth among Big Ten players. Both players are getting little rest as Newbill averages 35.5 minutes and Marshall is at 34.1 per game.
Up front, Penn State is also using Ross Travis for major minutes — he’s playing 31.4 per contest — and he’s averaging a team-high 7.7 rebounds. Travis isn’t much of an offensive threat and is shooting just 43.8 percent on his 2-point attempts. Freshman Brandon Taylor, a 6-foot-7 forward who lost 30 pounds after arriving on campus, is beginning to emerge as one of Penn State’s most reliable scorers. Taylor has an effective field goal percentage of 56.5 and has been the Nittany Lions best 3-point shooter at 39.6 percent.
Nick Colella, who is strictly a 3-point specialist with 48 of his 53 field goal attempts coming from outside, and junior forward Sasa Borovnjak, who averages 5.5 points and 3.5 rebounds, round out the rotation players who could make an impact on Monday.
·Collin Hartman (Indianapolis Cathedral): Did not play as he recovers from a fractured left wrist. Cathedral beat Indianapolis Northwest 82-68 on Jan. 2 and Lafayette Central Catholic 78-48 on Jan. 5.
·Devin Davis Jr. (Warren Central): Ten points in a 69-64 loss at Lawrence North on Jan. 2 and eight points in an 82-47 win at Terre Haute South on Jan. 4.
·Luke Fischer (Germantown, WI): With Tom Crean in attendance, Fischer scored a team-high 28 points in a 76-69 win over Nicolet on Jan. 4. Germantown is 12-0.
·Noah Vonleh (New Hampton Prep, NH): Did not play as New Hampton Prep is off until it hosts St. Thomas More on Jan. 14.
·Stanford Robinson (Findlay Prep, NV): Ten points in a 76-51 win over Redemption Christian on Jan. 5. Findlay Prep is 18-0 and ranked No. 1 in the USA Today Super 25.
·Troy Williams (Oak Hill Academy, VA): Did not play as Oak Hill Academy is off until Jan. 11 when it hosts Toronto Academy.
·James Blackmon Jr. (Ft. Wayne Luers): Twenty-eight points and eight rebounds in a 68-61 win over Ft. Wayne Dwenger on Jan. 4 and 44 points in a 79-73 overtime win at Muncie South on Jan. 5. Blackmon Jr. is averaging 38.2 points per game and Luers is 4-3.
Hoosiers working to incorporate Elston, Mosquera-Perea, Hollowell
Much of the preseason talk about Indiana centered on the team’s anticipated depth. The Hoosiers added a highly-touted freshman class to a roster full of returning veterans from last year’s Sweet 16 team.
But so far this season, No. 5 Indiana really hasn’t been that deep. Due to issues with the NCAA and an injury to senior Derek Elston, the Hoosiers are still in the process of trying to incorporate several players on their bench.
Freshman Hanner Mosquera-Perea was suspended for the first nine games, Elston missed the first 10 games after having knee surgery, and freshman Jeremy Hollowell was out for three games due to an NCAA investigation. Mosquerea-Perea and Elston have yet to get significant minutes or make major contributions through the first 14 games, and Hollowell’s minutes and contributions have been inconsistent.
In Monday’s game at Iowa, the trio combined to play only 14 minutes and none of the three scored a single point.
“We want to get this team to the point where Jeremy, Hanner, Peter [Jurkin] and Derek are a big part of that, where they get that experience [of a road win],” Indiana coach Tom Crean said Saturday. “We haven’t had a lot of that yet. We were basically a team that was playing with seven guys in that game [against Iowa], and that’s not what we wanna do moving forward.”
Even though they haven’t gotten significant time on the court, Crean said Mosquera-Perea, Hollowell and Elston have gained a good amount from the few minutes they have been out there. And with a full week in between the Big Ten opener at Iowa and Monday’s game at Penn State, they’ve had some extra practice time to learn from the things they experienced at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“I don’t anticipate, they will [play more],” Crean said. “There’s no question about that.”
Hollowell got off to a strong start to his freshman campaign by scoring in double figures in his first two collegiate games, but he hasn’t been quite the same player since. He hasn’t scored more than seven points in his last nine games, and he’s shot better than 50 percent from the field in only one of those contests.
In his only game back after missing three games, Hollowell airballed his lone shot attempt, but did have two important blocked shots.
“When a freshman misses a day of practice or a game, it’s like missing a week,” Crean said. “When you take somebody out of three games, it makes it that much harder.”
For Elston and Mosquera-Perea, the process has been a bit slower. Elston has struggled to find his jump shot in his return from injury, and it has impacted other parts of his game on the floor. He’s just 1-of-8 from the field for four total points in four games this season. Elston has played a total of 35 minutes.
But Crean saw a lot of improvement from his senior forward in Saturday afternoon’s practice.