The No. 7 Hoosiers, coming off a disappointing 77-74 home loss to Minnesota on Thursday, hit the road for Value City Arena in Columbus and a showdown with No. 5 Ohio State. Indiana won the first meeting, 74-70, on Dec. 31.
The game will be shown on CBS (Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg) and broadcast on the IU radio network:
Indiana’s schedule to begin conference play has been, in a word, challenging. Three of five games against the league’s top tier. And it doesn’t get any easier on Sunday afternoon as the Hoosiers face an Ohio State team that can not afford to fall behind any further in the conference standings. Both teams already own a pair of Big Ten losses and a third will put IU or OSU three behind Michigan State (assuming they emerge victorious today in Evanston) in the loss column.
The payback factor is also in-play as the Buckeyes are looking to avenge a New Year’s Eve loss in Bloomington. Whether it was the atmosphere in Assembly Hall or just a bad game, that loss produced several subpar individual performances from Thad Matta’s club. Aaron Craft had six turnovers. William Buford never established a presence on offense due to foul trouble. Likewise for Deshaun Thomas.
Both teams are coming off surprising losses. For the Hoosiers, a lackluster defensive effort was their ultimate undoing against Minnesota. For Ohio State, a once-in-a-lifetime performance from Brandon Paul (43 points on 11-of-15 shooting) led Illinois to a 79-74 upset on Tuesday. And I don’t use that terminology to describe Paul’s play lightly. He was incredible, but also unlikely to play that well ever again. The Buckeyes ran into a buzzsaw.
DEFENSE SEPARATES THESE TEAMS
Through five league games, Ohio State owns the league’s best defense. They’re allowing just 0.86 points per possession. They’re also ranked No. 1 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency by Ken Pomeroy. Indiana, on the other hand, is allowing 1.12 points per possession in league play. That’s last in the Big Ten.
Indiana continues to struggle with defense in Big Ten play, as it gave up 1.15 points per possession to the Gophers on Thursday inside Assembly Hall.
A look at some of the Hoosiers’ breakdowns in both man-to-man and 2-3 zone defense in the latest edition of Film Session.
1) AHANMISI TO THE HOLE
Elliott Eliason sets a ball screen for Maverick Ahanmisi out near half court:
Maverick is off to the rim past Oladipo. Elston just slides along to the side of him:
Jones doesn’t step up or get a body in front of Ahanmisi. He just swipes in with his right hand:
Well that wasn’t supposed to happen.
After the Hoosiers climbed to their highest ranking since January of 2008, they fell to Minnesota at home Thursday night in a game thought to be a stepping stone to the showdown at Ohio State this weekend.
Greg Rosenstein and Matt Dollinger talk about the loss and what it means for the rest of IU’s season with former IDS basketball columnist Jordan Cohen. The three discuss the struggles of Verdell Jones and Christian Watford as well as the return of Will Sheehey.
Later in the show, Sports Illustrated senior writer and Bloomington native Jon Wertheim comes on to discuss the Hoosiers and his two recent stories on the program. Wertheim wrote a story in this week’s SI magazine about Indiana’s turnaround this season and also penned a story on SI.com comparing what Tom Crean went through at Indiana to what new head football coach Bill O’Brien will go through at Penn State.
Wertheim also discusses growing up in Indiana and following the Hoosiers and also answers questions about the state of the program and how Crean has been successful in turning it around.
So tune in and enjoy. As always feel free to drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll be back next week after the Ohio State game.
Note: Wertheim has written two books Hoosier fans might be interested in. His latest, Scorecasting, comes out on paperback next week and his book Transition Game chronicles Indiana high school basketball and Wertheim’s alma mater, Bloomington North.
Listen in the embedded media player below, download the episode, subscribe via iTunes or subscribe to the RSS feed.
As I walked out of the media room last night, the sound of a ball pounding Branch McCracken Court immediately hit my ears.
So before hitting the exit in the south end of Assembly Hall, I took a quick peek around the corner to find a familiar face hoisting up shots.
It was Verdell Jones.
Headphones on. No expression on his face. Just Verdell, the ball, a student manager to rebound and the basket.
Roughly eighty minutes earlier, the buzzer sounded on arguably the worst stat performance of Jones’ Indiana career: 0-of-6 from the field, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and three turnovers in 23 minutes. Scoreless for just the second time in an IU uniform.
A bad game made worse by the fact that the Hoosiers, who had just three days ago soared to No. 7 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll, lost for the first time this season at home to Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers, previously winless in Big Ten play, were coming off a 13-point loss at home to Purdue.
And in what may have been an even more shocking development than the loss for a team that has far exceeded expectations to-date, a smattering of boos were unleashed as Matt Roth was subbed out for Jones late in the second half.
Jones has been the most discussed and critiqued player on the roster for most of his time in Bloomington. Some of the criticism has been justified. Some of it has not.
Indiana struggled at times defensively in its first four conference games, but the Hoosiers’ vulnerability was mostly hidden by their hot shooting.
The No. 7 Hoosiers (15-2, 3-2) entered Thursday night’s game against Minnesota as the nation’s top 3-point shooting team by percentage. They were shooting 50.5 percent from the field overall. In many ways, they were winning by simply outshooting their opponents.
When Indiana’s shots weren’t falling against the Golden Gophers, however, their shortcomings on defense were much more visible – and costly.
The Hoosiers made only 4-of-18 shots from 3-point range and 24-of-55 overall. They struggled to find an offensive rhythm or get enough defensive stops to go on an extended run.
The Hoosiers’ inability to get a stop down the stretch put them in deeper and deeper holes – holes they were unable to climb out of.
“The easiest thing in the world to do is to be sky high when you’re making shots,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “The hardest thing to do is to understand how committed you have to be to the game of defense and rebounding when you’re not.
“Defense creates offense, defense creates more opportunities, defense creates the fast break – you name it. The best teams gain confidence from their defense, not the other way around.”
Coach Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 77-74 loss to Minnesota at Assembly Hall on Thursday night. Watch the press conference in high-definition video in the embedded player below:
Cody Zeller, Jordan Hulls and Will Sheehey met with the media following Indiana’s 77-74 loss to Minnesota at Assembly Hall on Thursday night. Watch the press conference in high-definition video in the embedded player below: