Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Rutgers

  • 01/31/2015 7:20 pm in

Indiana bounced back from consecutive losses at Ohio State and Purdue with a 72-64 win over Rutgers on Saturday afternoon at Assembly Hall. The win improved the Hoosiers to 16-6 overall and 6-3 in Big Ten play.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Scarlet Knights:

· After two poor games, Williams reemerges: Aside from a hot offensive start in Columbus, Indiana didn’t get much out of sophomore Troy Williams in its losses to Ohio State and Purdue. Perhaps looking to send a message that he needs to grow into a more consistent performer, Tom Crean removed Williams from the starting lineup against Rutgers. It was the first time Williams hasn’t started a game in his IU career when he’s been available to play.

The 6-foot-7 wing responded with not only an improved offensive effort (14 points), he also hit the glass for 12 rebounds, which is more than he grabbed combined in his previous two games.

“When Troy is playing that way, that’s the Troy Williams we need to have,” Tom Crean said.

The numbers for Williams in Big Ten play speak to how important his production is for IU to be successful. In IU’s six Big Ten wins, he’s averaging 15.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. In three conference losses, he’s averaging just 5.3 points and three rebounds per contest.

· Zeisloft comes up big: Sometimes when a team is struggling to score, an unlikely offensive hero emerges to save the day. On Saturday for Indiana, it was Nick Zeisloft, who got a surprise start, but didn’t really do much offensively until the game was in the balance late.

Zeisloft’s 3-pointer at the 6:35 mark gave Indiana a 59-57 lead, which it wouldn’t relinquish, and he followed that up with another triple at the 4:19 mark to push the lead to 64-57.

The redshirt junior hasn’t been consistent this season, but he has come through in some big spots in conference play like the Ohio State game, where he lifted IU out of an early hole at home and the Illinois game, where he scored 10 points.

“You’ve got to be ready to take that shot at any time,” Zeisloft explained. “James (Blackmon) did a great job at driving the lane and just hitting me in a perfect spot. Just needed to knock it down.”

· Rutgers had trouble containing Blackmon’s drive: He’s known as one of the better shooters in the country, but James Blackmon Jr. hadn’t been great at converting 2s coming into the Rutgers game.

In fact, he came into Saturday making just 37.9 percent of his 2s in league play, but reversed his fortunes there for an afternoon as he made six of his 10 shots inside the 3-point line.

Blackmon Jr.’s efficiency in terms of finishing at the rim should improve as he continues to add strength and continues to make adjustments to avoid getting blocked, but his ability to finish was a difference maker for Indiana.

· Defensive struggles continue: This was Indiana’s best defensive performance since the Ohio State game in Assembly Hall when it allowed just .98 points per possession, but allowing Rutgers to score 1.04 points per trip is nothing to tout.

The Scarlet Knights came into Bloomington with the Big Ten’s worst offense (.89 points per possession) and posted their third best offensive performance in conference play thus far.

Indiana was better at defending 2s – Rutgers shot just 45.9 percent there – but it also allowed Myles Mack and Junior Etou too many unchallenged looks from distance and the Scarlet Knights capitalized with a 7-of-17 shooting performance from the perimeter.

To its credit, Indiana did get stops down the stretch when it mattered most, but incremental defensive improvements in the second half of the Big Ten schedule would alleviate the pressure on the offense when things aren’t clicking.

· At the halfway point of the conference season, Indiana has exceeded expectations: Nine games into the conference schedule, Indiana sits at 6-3 and in a tie for second place in the league. The Hoosiers were underdogs in six of their first nine games, so it’s hard to look at where things currently stand as anything less than impressive.

At 16-6 overall and with five home games remaining, the Hoosiers can probably feel good about their chances to make the NCAA tournament if they finish with four or five more league wins, but this group isn’t talking as if it’s satisfied with where things currently stand.

“We’re happy to be in the mix, but we’re not satisfied at all,” Blackmon Jr. said. “We know we have a couple games under our belt that we could have got, so next week at Wisconsin we know that it’s going to be a great environment, so I think we’re going to come prepared for it.”

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  • Fred C. Dobbs

    I like our chances. This is a young team and so there is going to be some rough spots. However, that being said, if we hold the home court and win two of our last four road games, we’ll be in great shape. Go Hoosiers!

  • FKIM01

    This will come off as crazy, but I lke our chances in Madison better than I have in years. Will I be shocked if IU loses? No, but I think this type of team could potentially give Wisconsin fits on defense.

    …or we’ll get blown out. Probably no in-between in Madison.

    …other than laying an egg in Smackey Arena, I’ve been pretty pleased with the season as a whole.

  • dwdkc

    That would be 13-5 in the league and probably no worse than tied for 2nd. Probably about a 5 seed. Yes I’d say that would be fantastic. Overdue to make some noise in the Big 10 tournament. Kids got to keep learning and improving.

  • SeeingRed

    Enjoy the Wisconsin game, whatever the outcome. I promised my wife I’d take her to Mellenkamp Tuesday night at the auditorium so I will miss it. I hope the Hoosiers grind out an ugly victory — the kind you’re happy they got but not the spectacular game of the season you missed while Pink Houses is ringing in your ears … 🙂

  • iuoiu

    They struggled to contain our drives to the basket last year, and fortunately that is still something we can do well. I’d say we are even better at it now since we can spread the floor with actual shooters as opposed to last year when, well, we had only one…..

  • Brian Stewart

    Agreed. @ Purdue was bad, also @ Mich. St. was probably the worse loss IMO. That team has shown itself to be very beatable this season. @ Wis is going to difficult. Again we’re going to have to guard a big – and this one is the best big in the Big 10, but if IU can get their shooting touch back they can beat anybody – if.. I would still like to see some better defense. They have given up way too many easy baskets the last 3 games understanding we don’t really have anyone guarding the rim with Perea out.

  • TomJameson

    I think we’ll be more like 12-6 in league play, not counting the B1G tourney. That will still be fantastic and put us in the big dance.

  • TomJameson

    It depends on how many free throws Wisconsin gets compared to IU. Wisconsin is one of those teams that seem to get a lot of “homer” calls. I only say that because Kaminsky will be protected and kept in the game. Yes, I am jaded about officiating, but (IMO) you will see Kaminsky get away with a lot of hacking and over-the-back style play. He’ll probably commit 14 fouls and get called for 2. I know that’s just the way it is, but the visiting team is forced to play just that much better to overcome the imbalance in officiating. It’s like playing 5 on 6. LOL

  • Ivy Walls

    Because BB is played with just 5 players on the court, the best athlete/player has to perform at his highest level every game, that was the message to Williams, he is still learning, he is sloppy with the ball in traffic and does not know when to pull back when trapped, and his mid-range to long game is a weakness, that all said he still is an impact player on the court and on the back boards he is above the rim. But I will say it again and again, IU has to shoot the ball (often their possessions don’t result in good shots or any) and in taking good shots if they go in they will win, it is a weird situation but if their shots are going in it their offensive efficiency is so powerful where teams have to expend so much energy on defense it carries over to IU’s defensive pressure.

    Going forward I could see a 13-5 or 12-6 record, losses on the road to UW and MD and depending on protecting the home court either 13-5 or 12-6. That would exceed all expectations. Furthermore if Mosquera-Perea can return and contribute 8-10 min off the bench down the stretch it would help a lot. But they still have to make shots, the making of shots allows IU to penetrate into the paint on the dribble drive and allows Williams to flash to the rim.

  • SCHoosier

    Kaminsky won’t need many calls against our defense or offense. Might pick up a few fouls on him with James driving. Game will be played at WIS’s pace whether we like it or not.

  • Ivy Walls

    12-6 is safe, 1 loss at home and 2 on the road, NW and Rutgers we should notch road wins, losing at MD and UW will be expected, sweeping home will still be tough; UM, MSU, PU and IA are all very much in doubt contests, but if they can hold the home court they will deserve all what they earned for post season placement

  • Ivy Walls

    Wish I could be there to see my old friend, I can recall being with him when he played at the Bluebird under the guise of COPS, (Cougar Out Playing Secretly), we have all grown older since those days

  • SCHoosier

    Can’t win without Troy playing well….yet 50% of the plays where he takes off in a rush down court..something bad is likely to happen. Nick’s only role is to shoot and grab a couple of boards. He’s actually been pretty conservative taking 3’s. James is a scorer for sure..but has not yet earned the right to be in the same conversation with Alford, Edwards or Guyton as a three point threat in games that matter. JB’s getting to the rim is fearless and critical. Struggling to beat the leagues worst offensive team at home is concerning. Anybody still got the @ Rutgers game an auto-win? If you haven’t listen to Coach Jordan’s post game comments…do. Not much coach speak but an honest review of the game and Hoosiers..including the statement that Myles Mack was the best player on the court last night..and he was. The Mack-Jack combo is what beat WIS…and damn near beat us.

  • Ivy Walls

    IU plays on thin ice because they have to. Blackmon has a scorer’s mentality in that he will find a way to get the ball through the via drive, drive and be fouled, or shoot from distance, but he is not polished yet. Zeisloft is what he is take good shots, not many but make them and play fundamental defense. Williams plays reckless at times and needs to learn how to dish on the break and not just force it. To beat UW all the players have to have one of their career games, as UW will pressure the 3 pt line and force IU into the paint against mobile big guys so taking and making contested shots will determine if IU has a shot at the end

  • gm

    it will take a performance like they had against maryland to beat wisconsin. the threes have to fall.

  • Eugene Debs

    I hope you’re right, but the Purdue, Michigan State and Ohio State games show we are going to really struggle on the road in the B1G.

  • ForeverIU

    From now until the end of the season and post-season it will be rejoice and lament. Rejoice our #6 offense when we win, and lament our #230 defense when we lose. Maybe our defense is better than kenpom says, because we measure deflections and kenpom doesn’t, and the deflection might be less effective than conventional defense, but when it does work it tends to produce the fast break, which is a higher percentage offense. Maybe, maybe …

  • dwdkc

    I don’t have B10 network so I didn’t see it. The box score showed that Troy must have been really active with points and boards, but he also had 4 turnovers and nobody else had more than two. Was he out of control at times? The other thing that really stands out about this team with me is that you still see some immaturity. All teams deal with this, but it is more extreme in their case–their intensity comes and goes depending on the situation–when they get a lead they seem to get pleased with themselves and ease off, except against Maryland where I think the crowd and their respect for the opponent kept them fired up. Outside of Yogi they get flustered in a really tough environment (all 3 road losses). Against a team they think they should beat, they sleepwalk through (Penn State, Rutgers). It was revealing that they found another gear when they really needed it yesterday late in the game–a more mature team would have found it earlier. I really have hope that they can grow in this area and show us more of the locked-in team more consistently, and it’s not unreasonable to expect given the experience level of most of the guys getting big minutes. But it’s Crean’s biggest challenge in my view.

  • fourputtsforsnowman

    yes…and Duke Tumatoe also

  • BigAd007

    Plus the top 4 teams in the Big 10 get a double bye. It would be nice to already be in the quarterfinals at the start of the tournament.