Thoughts on a 60-57 win over the Gophers:
As it turns out, there’s life after Christian Watford after all.
This win came in the form of Tom Pritchard, who became Blake Griffin tonight.
It came in the form of a defense that racked up seven steals, some of which aided in Indiana’s 18 points off turnovers. The first half box-and-one limited Blake Hoffarber’s attempts — though the Gophers figured out how get him more looks in the second half — and often made Minnesota nothing more than a jumpshooting team, one that finished the game at 39.6 percent from the floor (21-of-53).
It came in the form of 12 offensive rebounds, which helped the Hoosier amass 18 second-chance points.
Despite a double-digit lead for a good chunk of the second half, it felt as if Minnesota was bound to strike at some point. And they did. This one had the feeling of Sunday’s Breslin Center bout all over again.
But there was no close but no cigar this time.
Thanks to some clutch free throws from Verdell Jones and a big three from him as well, the Hoosiers gave themselves just enough distance, and Hoffarber’s three — a kid that’s killed this team before with last-second heroics — did not go down at the buzzer.
This night inside Assembly Hall, there was no overtime. No loss.
Just another win over a ranked opponent at home. Another game where energy, effort, hustle and desire were at a maximum, just when it felt like this season’s best days were behind the Hoosiers.
Twelve wins and counting. A .500ish mark still in sight.
After everything that’s gone down so far this season, it’s not a bad place to be.
+ Mentioned this quickly above, but THE PRITCH. Goodness gracious. He played with an absolute reckless abandon this evening — tipping in two balls and throwing down that ridiculous slam up above for another putback.
For a team that’s going to need some other offensive outlets with Watford on the shelf — especially inside — Pritchard answered the call in a big way this evening, going a perfect 5-of-5 from the field and even hitting both his free-throw attemps for 12 points.
Pritch also chipped seven boards, though all those came in the first half.
+ Matt Roth may have only shot 3-of-10 from 3-point land tonight, but it felt as if all three came in key spots. Roth hit two in a row in the first half to ignite a hyped crowd, and hit one later in the second half to stop a 6-0 Minnesota run. If Pritchard and Roth continue to bring 20-plus points combined the rest of the way, that’ll be big for the Hoosiers.
+ Nice to see Verdell Jones back in action, and for him to have those five key points in the closing minutes of the ballgame. Took the sting out of missing Watford’s presence a bit. Jones hit the team’s two other threes — Indiana was a rough 5-of-24 on the night from beyond the arc — and was 4-of-7 from the field for 12 points. He also notched five boards in just 17 minutes of action, as he’s on a minutes limit coming off his injury.
He’s another guy that’s going to have to play well on the offensive end with Watford out.
+ The Hoosiers shot 86.7 percent (13-of-15) from the line. The Gophers only hit 50 percent (11-of-22) from the charity stripe. In a poor shooting game like this — Indiana, at 39.6 percent from the field, was just a bit better than the Gophers tonight — free throws made a difference in IU coming out on top.