Five takeaways from Indiana’s win at Ohio State

  • 03/04/2017 4:22 pm in

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Indiana won its second road game of the season on Saturday afternoon as the Hoosiers beat Ohio State 96-92 at Value City Arena. The Hoosiers improved to 17-14 overall and finished the regular season 7-11 in Big Ten play.

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

· Indiana’s guards lead offensive barrage: It’s been a rare occurrence for Indiana to have all three of its starting guards playing well in the same game in league play. But that’s exactly what happened on Sunday afternoon.

James Blackmon Jr., Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson combined for 66 of Indiana’s 96 points. The trio shot 22-of-40 from the field and combined to play 104 minutes. Perhaps most importantly, the three guards combined for just six turnovers.

“It is a great confidence builder for our guys,” Tom Crean said postgame. “They were really locked in.”

· Free throw differential in favor of IU for first time in Big Ten road game: It took nine road games, but Indiana finally avoided being outscored from the foul line in a Big Ten road game.

Through Tuesday’s loss at Purdue, Indiana had been outscored by 94 points at the line on the road in conference games. On Saturday, both Ohio State and Indiana took 22 free throws and IU hit 16 compared to 14 for the Buckeyes.

The fact that Indiana held Ohio State to a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of just 35.5 percent is notable despite being just two percent below the Big Ten average for the Buckeyes. Indiana had the second worst opponent free throw rate (46.3) of a power conference team in league play coming into Saturday, so holding Ohio State to just 35.5 percent was significant in the outcome.

· Hoosiers have one of their best games of the season taking care of the ball: Indiana’s turnover problem has been a storyline all season, but that wasn’t the case against a Buckeye team that was indifferent to defending all afternoon.

The Hoosiers turned it over just 12 times for a turnover percentage of 16.2. It was just the third time Indiana has turned it over on less than 17 percent of its possession in Big Ten play.

Ohio State scored just 12 points off of the 12 IU mishaps and with IU scoring eight points off of 10 Ohio State turnovers, the differential wasn’t a major factor in the outcome.

· Starters handle the majority of the minutes and scoring: Crean kept a tight rotation in the win with the bench scoring just three points in 45 minutes.

IU’s starters all played major minutes and each contributor was efficient. Besides the aforementioned performances by the trio of guards, Juwan Morgan was 4-of-4 from the field and hit three free throws to finish with 11 points. And Thomas Bryant went 7-of-9 from the field to finish with 16 points.

How good was IU offensively? The Hoosiers scored 1.30 points per possession and won away from Bloomington despite allowing 1.24 points per trip. The 96 points were the most points ever scored by an Ohio State opponent in Value City Arena.

· Ohio State headed for second straight NCAA tournament miss: It’s not news that the Buckeyes will miss the NCAA tournament for the second straight season.

But the program, once the conference’s best under Thad Matta and a perennial national power, is slipping.

Matta built Ohio State with a defense-first mentality. There are “defense wins” signs in offices in the back hallways of Value City Arena. But this Ohio State team finished with the second worst defense in the Big Ten this season at 1.09 points per possession.

If you want to point to a reason that the Big Ten has taken a step back nationally in recent seasons, the regression of Ohio State is a major reason why.

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  • Fifer39

    Turnovers and 3pt shooting. Always has been with this team, always will be. That said, I though we did a much better job of getting it inside today and driving the lanes. Which probably goes a long way to explaining how we shot over 50% from distance.

    All in all, a decent performance I thought other than an unfathomable 10 mins to start the second half. I’d be pretty optimistic – if it was December.

  • IULore

    Yeah. Gotta hope for a miracle now.

  • KingofKentucky

    I’m curious as to why bench minutes were so limited this afternoon. I would like to think it was due to efficiency of the starting lineup but we’ve seen substitutions when the starting lineup or 2nd wave is performing well. Any thoughts?

  • Kyl470

    Defense and turnovers. Today they fixed one of the problems and they got a victory. Just shows if this team could have controlled turnovers all year they likely would have been over 500 in the Big 10 despite playing poor defense all year.

  • vicbert caladipo

    5 points of interest(at least to me) : )
    1. Coach mentioned at least twice in the presser that it was a tough week and a tough last 2 days. Considering most weeks include 2 games against good opponents and considering we have lost both or at least one in most weeks, I wonder what he means by that. HMMMMMMMMMMMMMM?
    2. I wish I was at press row with really good ears to hear the rather lengthy conversation between CTC and Matta. Golf or dinner reservations after the season? Can Matta really beat Archie Miller in a game of one on one and how would CTC fare(reference to a commercial)?? What could it be the 2 of them have in common that would initiate a conversation of that length?
    3. Did that game change the mind of any players on next year?
    4. Has TB really lost 20 pounds? Are IU players when they make shots the most gyrational team in the country? Does 6-7 players “buying in” make a winner? Is Malcolm Hill really nicer than Andrew Dakich?
    5. We will win the BIG10 tourney and make the dance. You heard it hear last.

  • Jeff Crowder

    I think everyone in the BIG is beatable, so why not us?

  • Smilinjayd

    I’d like to be the optimist i am most all the time. However, the only miracle i can see is if CTC keeps his job.

  • AndyCapp

    LOL, love that last disclaimer!

  • AndyCapp

    Was thinking the SAME thing about your point #2! What the cynic in me was thinking I won’t share because I would DEF get lambasted by some of the remaining Crean faithful. Sure made me curious though…

  • inLinE6

    So we’ve avoided to start on Wednesday, correct? 4 games to clinch the crown and play in the tourney. We are back in business baby.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    The lack of comments when this team wins is disgusting.. regardless of your feelings for the coach.. everything these players do ..does go onto IUs permanent record.. the program is the program..

  • TomJameson

    I’d say that the defense was better also. Not elite for sure, but better than what it’s been lately.

  • TomJameson

    Alex, this was a good takeaway. I’m really glad for your objectivity, it’s good to count on your honesty. Thanks.

    I think though, your point about the free throw discrepancy has a caveat that needs to be considered. I didn’t count them, but there were quite a few free throws in the last 3 minutes for IU when Ohio was fouling like crazy to get back into the game. If not for those, I believe the discrepancy would still be a continuing issue.

  • INUnivHoosier2

    Good to see RJ back to his old self for a game. Hopefully that continues into the B1G tourney.

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    If Nebraska wins Sunday against UM, we will be the #11 seed and play on Wednesday. If Nebraska loses, we will be the #10 seed and play Thursday. I’m not sure who we will play, but likely UM if they can beat Nebraska.

  • Ryan Comerford

    Defense was better? We gave up 92 points. Yes it was a win, but the same issues that have hurt us all season were still prevalent.

  • iugradmark

    Couldn’t understand that observation either. The 2 worst defensive teams in the Big played a game in the 90s. A win yes but not due to defense.

  • Steve S

    Gave up 52 points in 2nd half and couldn’t put a team away when they had them down 18 and 14 at halftime. That been pretty typical coming out for 2nd half, and not only this yr. It’s why they play so many close games. Shoot into a big lead or out of a big hole if the other team let’s up, but this team struggled putting games away all season. The only exception when playing big conference games was Michigan St. This one just went their way playing another 7-11 big 10 team. The only good thing I took away from it was RJ played well for the 1st time in a long time.

  • Allhandsondeck

    Wonderful win!

  • Shaggy_C

    That stat around free throws is ridiculous – IU was outscored by 94 points on the line in road contests coming into the OSU game. For a matter of perspective, IU was outscored -in total- by only 66 points during B1G road contests if my math is correct (and half of those points came from the 30 point drubbing by Michigan.)

    In other words, if IU had reduced the foul margin by even a third they would have outscored their opponents on the road overall this year. It would have been a totally different season in the W-L columns despite the bad defense, turnovers, and injuries.

  • Larry Brown

    If the starters play to their potential, anything can happen in the tourney.

  • IUfanforever

    The defense was awful. Giving up 92 points is not good. We need a new coach. Hopefully soon..that can take place with an elite coach. We pay elite money for mediocrity level coaching.

  • IUfanforever

    There is not any excitement when the make up of the team is giving up 92 points. But yes a win it is, however playing for a 10th or 11th seed in the Big Ten Tournament is unacceptable. Tom Crean is the 8th highest paid coach in college basketball which is an elite salary. Yet this IU program is playing at a mediocrity level. He has lost the team and lack of leadership is a coaching issue. I will give CTC credit when it is due he has done all he can to turn the program around but it is time to move on with the hiring of an elite coach. Time for the IU administration to step up and get this done with a change.

  • Shaggy_C

    I doubt coaches actually get many opportunities to talk one on one throughout the year and these two definitely took full advantage of the officials’ confusion with the clock. As much as we would love to spin this into some big conspiracy, I think Occam’s Razor tells us it was a far more mundane chit chat about things like officiating, team strategy, and the execution by standout players on each side.

  • TomJameson

    That’s okay Forever, even a broken clock (me) is right twice a day.

  • TomJameson

    I’ll defend my comment by repeating that the defense was better and (again) just “not elite for sure”. The first half is really where the difference was, the second half,well, not so much. There were bright spots like Zach and his hustle. He made quite a difference on defense.

    From the prior comments, I’ll take heat on this opinion also, but JBJ was noticeably better (again, not elite).

    If one were to watch the game without the blinders, one would see that a better defense was played all around, but specifically in the second half.

    Remember, IU was getting hammered by those fouls again also, the 8 or so called in the last 3 minutes made it look like a more respectable margin, but that’s just fools gold there.

  • TomJameson

    I never said the win was due to the defense. Of course the win was due to the offense. All I said was that the defense was better, maybe just marginally better, but better.

  • kennygeorge

    I agree Tom, defense at times was better and at times wasn’t, but I could see some signs of improvement or flashes of defense.

  • kennygeorge

    crean may have even asked how lyle was doing.

  • IULore

    Would playing Wednesday help IU? Seems to me that if they play Wednesday that’s 4 wins before the title game, if they lost that they would be 21-15…. eh, still not good enough. Let’s hope for Thursday.

  • iugradmark

    Tom, not trying to argue but going into the game Indiana had the last place defense in the league giving up about 1.1 pts per possession and Ohio State scored at a 1.24 pts per possession clip so just don’t see how we were better when we were worse. It is all good but who are you going to believe, the facts or your lying eyes ;).

  • calbert40 – AC000000

    I don’t think beating Rutgers on Wednesday helps anything. If they were to get the #10 and win three games to get to the championship and then lose, they’d end up 20-15, with wins over three NCAA teams likely (UM, Maryland and Wisky?). Add that to a 20 win season, wins over two likely #1 seeds…I think they could get in.

  • IULore

    Shows how awful the bubble really is. I think there are only about 8 teams that really have a shot this year. Makes me sad to realize how close IU was to being one of those teams.

  • IULore

    Well the starters scored 93 points. The rotation definitely seems tightened now too, heading into the BIG tourney.

  • Mark Bando

    If agree with you 110 percent

  • jozink

    We won and I’m excited for the kids. They however are not reading this, at least hopefully not, nor is the coach. No griping or praise on here will actually make an impact on what happens after the end of this season. One thing I can say for sure though is that this win, no matter how hard fought, does not change my opinion about what should happen at the end of the year one iota. That’s why I and probably many others are not commenting. Is has nothing to do with not wanting to praise the players.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    Good win and IU will be dangerous in the tournament. they beat Iowa and move on to friday

  • Brad

    As long as we are told to forget about the first 3 years right? I’m told none of that counts.

  • IdahoHoosier

    I thought JBJ looked better for the most part too. His default on the defensive glass is to ignore his man and race to the basket for the rebound. So instead of blocking out, he ends up with a handful of rebounds per game and everyone praises him saying “he is a great rebounding guard”. Also, the only way I can agree with you saying the defense was “better” was if you’re saying the defense before today was the literal worst. Then yes, Saturday’s showing was “better” than the worst. The difference in the game was having a few less turnovers, getting to the free throw line, and actually hitting 3s. Everything else looked essentially the same.

  • IdahoHoosier

    It is really hard to tell when Dakich talks what is wisdom and what may be total BS. I wondered about all those questions you mentioned in #4. Hard to believe TB would want to slim down 20 lbs when he was a dominating force on the block freshman year. Very interesting stuff!

  • IdahoHoosier

    Devil’s advocate here. I am sort of tired of people citing the fact that CTC gets paid a lot as basically a reason IU should only win. Making a lot of money doesn’t mean you are an elite coach, so because he makes bank doesn’t mean he is better than some dude at a small school making less (as many would agree). Also, IU chooses to pay it’s coaches a ton of money, so you can’t blame CTC for accepting money they offer him.

  • IdahoHoosier

    I get your point, but free throws at the end of the game count just like the ones any other time right?

  • TomJameson

    Yes, one made free throw counts as one point at any time during the game. Is that the obvious point you wanted to make?

    My point was, that if Ohio wasn’t fouling intentionally, they would have had a large free-throw imbalance in their favor.

  • IdahoHoosier

    I got your point, but you missed mine. Ultimately does it matter if the team was sending you to the line purposefully or not? In the end, the stat is measuring free throw attempts and makes. While the story behind why is interesting, it doesn’t add or take away any meaning from the stat itself. In the end, IU hit more free throws and that helped win the game. Yes, IU still needs to limit their fouling and get to the line more. We know that.

  • Hoosierkamp

    Im hearing that IU is in quiet conversations with Billy D. But won’t have any real serious ones until season over.

    I am also hearing that IU won’t fire crean while owing 4MM and that he gets 1 more year unless Donovan is a legit option……

    for what its worth