Whatever you call it, Indiana won’t think of it as a rematch.
Less than nine months after Syracuse knocked Indiana out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C., the two teams will face each other tonight at the Carrier Dome at 7:15 p.m., as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
For Indiana senior Will Sheehey, he experienced the loss firsthand. He played 26 minutes that game, as the Hoosiers’ national title hopes were dashed in their lowest scoring output of the season, a 61-50 defeat. But even he, on the eve of their matchup against the No. 4 team in the country, hesitated to call it a rematch.
“We’re going to look at it just purely as a basketball game, not really at the emotions surrounding it,” he said. “Obviously, reliving the end of your season last year is not what you want to do but we’re going to dive into the film, and we have been, in looking at specific things within the game. Not necessarily the emotional part, but more like the X’s and O’s.”
Yes, eight months removed from the decisive game, both teams are much different — each losing significant contributors to graduation or the NBA. Indiana lost four of its five starters. Syracuse lost three of its four leading scorers (Brandon Triche, James Southerland, Michael Carter-Williams).
“We can’t focus on ‘rematch,’ ” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “We can focus on the things we learned from the game, but it’s two different teams.”
Still, much remains the same.
Tom Crean met with the media on Monday afternoon to preview Tuesday’s Big Ten-ACC Challenge game at Syracuse.
Watch and listen to his comments in the media player below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
In a rematch of last year’s East Regional semifinal, Indiana travels to Syracuse on Tuesday night for the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Syracuse (7-0) is coming off wins over Minnesota, California and Baylor in the Maui Invitational.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN at 7:15 p.m. ET and on the IU radio network (XM 91, Sirius 91):
With no marquee home non-conference game on the schedule, it doesn’t get any better in the pre-Big Ten slate for Indiana than Tuesday’s trip to Syracuse.
The Hoosiers have been tested a couple of times at Assembly Hall and against Connecticut at Madison Square Garden, but going into a true road environment for the first time presents a new set of challenges.
The Carrier Dome, which drew an NCAA-best 426,347 fans last season, will be truly alive for the first time this season after four home games against low major competition for the Orange. The shooting backdrop will provide a much different look for many of IU’s young players who haven’t experienced such a large venue. And the spotlight will be squarely on this game as it tips off a Big Ten-ACC Challenge doubleheader on ESPN that also features Duke vs. Michigan.
We learned plenty about Indiana as it navigated its way to a 6-1 start in November. On Tuesday night in Syracuse, we’ll learn much, much more.
The Evansville Purple Aces came into Bloomington last Tuesday sporting one of the better offenses in the country. But they left deflated, as the Hoosiers held them to just .65 points per possession.
A look at four strong defensive stands from Indiana in the latest edition of Film Session:
I. The Purples Aces have yet to score more than five minutes into the contest. But they get some daylight on this possession. Jeff Howard gets hit with a screen:
He fights over it, but Blake Simmons has the angle and steps on him:
Indiana coach Tom Crean saw his team’s potential in perhaps its worst half of the season.
On Friday, Nov. 22, in the 2K Sports Classic final against then-No. 18 Connecticut, his Hoosiers went 9-for-24 from the field, had 12 turnovers and somehow only trailed, 30-24. Though Indiana would subsequently lose the game, 59-58, Crean was convinced.
“You’ve got limited time and you’re trying to not wear them down and they are young guys, and you’ve got a million things you’re thinking about,” he said on Nov. 26, following Indiana’s 77-46 win against Evansville. “But the bottom line is we just have to get better at certain things every day and not get ahead of ourselves. We never get ahead of ourselves game wise, but we are asking them to learn a lot.”
Seven games into the season, Crean has a lot to be optimistic about.
As of Saturday morning, Indiana (6-1) was the No. 4 offensive rebounding team (45.6 offensive rebounding percentage) in the nation and was No. 11 in getting to the foul line with a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 60.6 percent. His team is playing to the pace he wants with an adjusted tempo of 74.3 possessions per game, which ranks 20th nationally.
Indiana is also averaging 86.4 points per game — No. 24 in the country — and is limiting opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 39.5, which is fifth nationally.
But his team is still one of the youngest in the country, one that has six freshmen and five sophomores on scholarship. According to KenPom.com, the Hoosiers rank 325th in the country in terms of experience.
“I’m the first one that’s getting too far ahead, and I realized that today,” Crean said after the Evansville win.
“I think the hard thing for me, I see how good they can be. I see their talent level. I’ve known them for so long through the recruiting process and things like that. I want greatness for them.”
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.”