With the start of college basketball season on the horizon, we’ll be taking a long look at the conference at large as well as Indiana’s roster over the next month. Today, we continue our look at the Big Ten with the Northwestern Wildcats.
Vic Law arrived on campus last season as arguably Northwestern’s best-ever recruit. Coupled with a new scoreboard in Welsh-Ryan Arena, a new era appeared to be emerging in Chris Collins’ second year in Evanston.
Indiana got to work on the defensive end early and often against the Wildcats in its win on Thursday evening. It helped lead to a 16-0 run during the middle stretch of the first half which saw the Hoosiers take a 24-6 advantage over Northwestern.
We’ll take a look at some plays on both sides of the ball during this key run in the latest edition of Film Session:
Well, lookie here: We have an Indiana player picking up an opponent full court. James Blackmon Jr. pokes the ball loose on Dave Sobolewski:
The senior guard is able to recover the ball and Blackmon Jr. continues to pick him up the length of the court:
As the Wildcats get into their half court offense, Tre Demps gets a ball screen and comes left. Collin Hartman hedges hard and is called for a foul, but it was a good aggressive play regardless:
CHICAGO — Indiana’s players knew it was guaranteed only one game in the Big Ten tournament.
They played on Thursday like they wanted more.
In a dominant 40 minutes, the Hoosiers (20-12) fought their way to a 71-56 win over Northwestern in the United Center, snapping a three-game losing streak started by the Wildcats just over two weeks ago, 20 miles away in Evanston.
“We’re only guaranteed one game,” junior Yogi Ferrell said. “And that was this game right here. So we wanted to keep this season going on.
“And we don’t want it to end early and pack up going home.”
After three straight losses, the Hoosiers spent much of the lead-up to the Big Ten tournament having energetic practices — ones that were so good they gave the team its confidence and edge back, Collin Hartman said. It showed against the Wildcats.
CHICAGO – Indiana advanced to the quarterfinals of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday night with a 71-56 win over Northwestern at the United Center.
Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Wildcats:
· Indiana played its most complete game in a while: The Hoosiers have struggled since beating Maryland 89-70 back on Jan. 22 and a 4-8 record over its last 12 had this group facing a must-win situation in its postseason opener.
It was fair to wonder how Indiana would respond in a pressure filled situation, but the Hoosiers started strong and never really let off the gas in its most complete effort in over a month. It was the third best defensive performance against a Big Ten team this season (.97 points per possession allowed) and a significant improvement over the first meeting in Evanston when the Wildcats torched IU for 1.25 points per trip.
Indiana’s renewed energy was evident early as it crashed the offensive boards and made things uncomfortable for Northwestern offensively by ramping up the ball pressure, getting into the passing lanes and holding to just 22 first half points. That set the tone for the rest of the evening as Indiana built a lead and was never really challenged from there.
“We moved the ball extremely well, but the pressure of our defense, the energy, the tenacity, all those things were really, really strong,” Tom Crean said. “I’m extremely proud of the coaches and the way that they prepared them and the way these guys and their teammates, the way that they played.”
CHICAGO — After IU’s loss to Michigan State on Saturday, a dejected James Blackmon Jr. sat at the press table saying he didn’t get it going soon enough.
Tonight, as Blackmon Jr. and Yogi Ferrell sat down to the meet the media, it was all smiles.
Blackmon Jr. got it going early, scoring 13 points in 16 minutes of first half action on 3-of-6 shooting from distance. He finished the contest with his best effort away from home this season — 25 points (8-of-15), six rebounds (four offensive) and a career-high seven assists. The freshman’s effort, energy and stat-stuffing ways were indicative of Indiana’s performance tonight in its comfortable 15-point victory over Northwestern.
“I think tonight was all about our mindset,” Blackmon Jr. said.
From the onset, the Hoosiers got up in Northwestern’s grill and made them work for buckets. Where this has been for so long this season, who knows. But it was clear this was a point of emphasis for the Hoosiers. With each stop, deflection and recovery on defense, the Indiana bench cheered — creating a feedback loop for the energy being expended on the court.
“We went out there and created our own energy,” Ferrell said.
At one point in the first half, the Wildcats went 8:28 of game action between field goals. Indiana punched the lead out to 24-6 at this point, and it pretty much was the catalyst for the victory. Indiana held the Wildcats under a point per possession (.98) and that’s an encouraging sign heading into Friday night’s matchup with Maryland. Tre Demps killed the Hoosiers in Evanston. Tonight, Demps had just four points on 2-of-5 shooting as Ferrell and Robert Johnson hounded him throughout the contest.
“The pressure of our defense, the energy, the tenacity, all those things were really really strong,” Tom Crean said.