Indiana moved to 6-1 with a comfortable 77-46 win over Evansville on Tuesday night in Assembly Hall. Here’s a look at five takeaways from the rout of the Purple Aces:
· Evansville’s offense never gets going: Led by D.J. Balentine, who entered Tuesday’s game with a scoring average of 29.6 points per game, the Evansville offense boasted some of the nation’s best numbers coming into Assembly Hall. The Purple Aces ranked in the top 25 nationally in both offensive efficiency and effective field goal percentage at tip-off.
When the final buzzer sounded, the Hoosiers had limited Evansville to a season-low in points (46) and a season-high in turnovers (15). Balentine finished with 14 points on just 5-of-17 shooting. And the nation’s top 3-point shooting team managed to hit just 3-of-16 in Assembly Hall. Evansville coach Marty Simmons had a pretty simple explanation for why his team his struggled.
“They just executed their defense well,” Simmons said. “They did a lot of good things and we just weren’t patient. Their communication, they switched up some things on us and got us stagnant. We just have to do a better job.”
· Hollowell’s career-night: There will likely be better performances down the road in the career of sophomore Jeremy Hollowell. But Tuesday’s performance was Hollowell’s best from an offensive standpoint in his young career and he did it coming off the bench for the first time this season. In 17 minutes, Hollowell scored 18 points on 4-of-8 shooting from the field and 8-of-9 free throws.
Hollowell was replaced in the starting lineup by senior Jeff Howard and said afterward that he didn’t view coming off the bench as a big deal.
“Coach made his decision, Jeff came in, he did a great job,” Hollowell said. “He capitalized on his opportunity, and it was coach’s decision and we went with it.”
As the news circulated, Indiana fans were perplexed.
When Indiana’s starting lineup was announced for its seventh game of the season on Tuesday night against Evansville, sophomore Jeremy Hollowell, who had started the Hoosiers’ six prior games, was excluded. In his place, senior walk-on Jeff Howard — who had played only 85 minutes of college basketball in his career — would start.
The buzz generated on social media led to “Jeff Howard” trending nationally on Twitter during much of Indiana’s 77-46 win against Evansville, as the Hoosiers advanced to 6-1 in the 2013-2014 season.
“Coach did what he did for his reasons,” Howard said following the game, in which he scored two points, grabbed three rebounds and had one assist in 15 minutes of action. “I just came and brought to the team what I bring to the team.”
Before Tuesday’s game, Indiana coach Tom Crean told both Howard and Hollowell the news. His reasoning, Crean insisted, was that Howard “epitomized what we wanted out there in the form of energy, communication and intensity.”
But Howard has played only eight minutes this entire season. There was no intention, Crean said, of trying to “light a fire” for Hollowell to perform better.
Check out 22 photos by Jamie Owens from Indiana’s 77-46 win over Evansville at Assembly Hall in the embedded photo gallery after the jump. Purchase prints from J. Scott Sports.
Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 77-46 win over Evansville on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall.
Watch his postgame comments in the media player below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
Jeff Howard (two points, three rebounds), Jeremy Hollowell (career-high 18 points, three rebounds) and Noah Vonleh (13 points, 12 rebounds) met with the media following Indiana’s 77-46 win over Evansville on Tuesday night at Assembly Hall.
Watch their postgame comments in the media player below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
Thoughts on a 77-46 win against the Purple Aces:
I. Jeff Howard? Jeff Howard. Some of the media at Assembly Hall this evening tweeted shortly before the contest that it must be some sort of typo to the starting lineup. But Howard not only started, he played a career-high in minutes (15). Howard also become a trending topic on Twitter tonight in the United States. (Big night for Jeff Howard.) The speculation surrounding the change to the starting lineup is Tom Crean wanting to send a message to his young squad that effort and hard work will be rewarded. Or maybe the fact that he started in place of Jeremy Hollowell meant this was more a message to his sophomore who has struggled at times the last few games. (Crean is sure to address his decision to start the senior walk-on in his post-game comments.) If that was the case, Hollowell responded. The sophomore scored 18 points (a career high) in 17 minutes to lead all Hoosier scorers and had just one turnover.
Whatever the reason, this wasn’t the only thing different in Crean’s rotation tonight. His first subs of the game was a four for four swap: Noah Vonleh, Howard, Troy Williams, Will Sheehey out, Hollowell, Evan Gordon, Hanner-Mosquera Perea, Devin Davis in.
II. Evansville came into this game with a high-powered offense (90.6 points per game, nation’s 22nd most efficient offense, nation’s top 3-point shooting team, fourth-best eFG% in the nation), but the Purple Aces simply hadn’t faced any team as good or as talented as the Hoosiers. It showed right away. Evansville didn’t get into double digits in the scoring department until just over five minutes to go in the half and scored only 19 over the first 20 minutes. The Hoosiers’ length and athleticism was tough for them to deal with at the rim.