Save for some dumb passes and allowing a little too much penetration at times, the Hoosiers played a solid enough first half in Des Moines against the Mocs. Was it their best half of the season? No.
But punching the lead out to 16 (46-30) before settling on a nine-point halftime advantage (46-37) was an encouraging sign after their loss to Michigan on Friday in the Big Ten Tournament. Scoring 1.27 points per possession with 24 points in the paint and a 4-of-8 mark from distance did the trick, too. Still, you didn’t quite feel like Indiana was in full control of this one. The Mocs — with 29 wins coming into the contest including some impressive road wins — didn’t look like a team that was going to roll over and die.
Indiana would need to keep it going and then some if it was looking for a comfortable victory. And that the Hoosiers certainly did.
DES MOINES, Iowa – Quick thoughts on a 99-74 win over Chattanooga in the first round of the NCAA tournament:
How it happened: This was a contest that was close early, but Indiana’s high powered offense was too much for Chattanooga to handle. The Hoosiers scored an impressive 1.27 points per possession in the first half and led by as many as 28 late in the second half. This was a balanced offensive performance for Indiana as five guys scored in double figures led by Yogi Ferrell with 20 points. The Hoosiers finished with the evening scoring 1.38 points per possession and with a turnover percentage of just 16.7. The win moves the Hoosiers into the round of 32 on Saturday at Wells Fargo Arena for a potential matchup with Kentucky, provided the Wildcats get past Stony Brook later tonight. This was Indiana’s first NCAA tournament win since the 2012-2013 season when the Hoosiers advanced to the Sweet 16 before falling to Syracuse.
Crean joins Xavier’s Chris Mack, Villanova’s Jay Wright and Bill Self of Kansas as a finalist for the award, which will be announced on Sunday, April 3 at the Naismith Awards brunch at the Final Four in Houston.
Crean led Indiana to a 25-6 regular season record and a 15-3 mark in Big Ten play, the best mark for the program since the 1992-1993 season when the Hoosiers finished 17-1.
The Hoosiers open the NCAA tournament on Thursday night as a No. 5 seed in the East Region against Chattanooga at Wells Fargo Arena.
Earlier this month, Crean was named the Big Ten coach of the year by the league’s coaches and media.
Underdog Chattanooga looking to upset IU with defensive pressure
DES MOINES, Iowa – Chattanooga isn’t afraid of Indiana.
The No. 12 seed from the Southern Conference only lost five games during the regular season, and was able to do that in part because of its persistent defensive pressure.
“That’s the way we play,” Chattanooga forward Justin Tuoyo said. “We do it all forty minutes and it’s just not full court. We press in half court, and then the way we play on offense everybody on our team can score. So the whole game we’re going to give it to you. That’s our style of play and that’s what works for us.”
James Blackmon Jr. says he’s ahead of schedule in rehab from knee injury
DES MOINES, Iowa – Speaking to the media for the first time since suffering a torn ACL in late December, Indiana sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. said Wednesday that of the multiple injuries he’s suffered in his career, this one has hit him the hardest.
The Marion product averaged 15.8 points in 13 games and shot 46.3 percent from behind the 3-point line before suffering a season-ending knee injury on Dec. 28.
“It’s just hit me the hardest because it’s my college career,” Blackmon Jr. said. “Sophomore season, trying to have a big year. So it’s probably the hardest one for me.”
Hoosiers hope to be at full strength for NCAA tournament opener
DES MOINES, Iowa – Just how healthy Indiana is when it tips off the 2016 NCAA tournament on Thursday night at Wells Fargo Arena may play a significant factor in how far the Hoosiers can advance in the East region.
Three IU players – Robert Johnson, Juwan Morgan and Collin Hartman – continue to rehab from injuries, but each player expects to be available when the Hoosiers take the floor against Chattanoooga.
Johnson, who hasn’t played since Indiana’s win over Purdue on Feb. 20, said his injury was officially diagnosed as a high ankle sprain and a bone bruise to his left foot. Indiana considered playing Johnson, who is averaging 8.2 points per game and is shooting 43.6 percent on 3-pointers, against Michigan in the Big Ten tournament.
Bielfeldt, Ferrell leading the way for IU with prior tournament experience
DES MOINES, Iowa – Yogi Ferrell and Max Bielfeldt have been to a combined five NCAA tournaments before this season, experience at the top of Indiana’s roster that not many teams can claim.
Bielfeldt, who made three trips to the tournament with Michigan, including a national championship game appearance and an Elite Eight, knows what it takes to win in this tournament. He’s played with superstars, he’s played with seniors who have made an impact on a program – and now it’s his turn.
Along with Ferrell, the two players have been prepping IU’s younger players for what the tournament stage is like.
DES MOINES, Iowa – Nick Zeisloft, Yogi Ferrell, Troy Williams and Tom Crean took the podium on Wednesday afternoon at Wells Fargo Arena in advance of Indiana’s NCAA tournament opener against Chattanooga on Thursday.
In this week’s bonus edition of the show, Morris and Inside the Hall editor Alex Bozich are joined by WDRB.com sports columnist Rick Bozich to preview Indiana’s game against Chattanooga and to look ahead to a potential matchup on Saturday with Kentucky.