Though there is always danger in assigning too much meaning to the early season games, especially when these games are against the bottom half of division one schools, it is encouraging to see IU beginning to impose its will on weaker teams.
We didn’t see this trait in the previous two years as a young Hoosier team was often scrapping just to stay on top of even these physically limited opponents. Though it didn’t always end in defeat, there were enough defeats to the likes of Boston and Loyola (MD) and close wins like the eight point victory over SC Upstate that Hoosier fans could really not take any satisfaction or see any physical play which would be needed for the rigors of the Big 10.
This past week, IU was able to physically overwhelm its opponents, at least for spurts which led to the two comfortable wins.
In Tuesday’s game against Mississippi Valley State, the Hoosiers had taken a lead late in the first half, but looked to be locked into another “closer than it should be” affair. Coming out of the locker room though, Indiana’s defense picked up, and some shots started to fall, and before the Delta Devils could knock in their second field goal of the half, IU had extended its lead from four points to twenty.
On Sunday, again IU looked a little sluggish in the first half as shots clanked off the rim. Evansville led by six at the break, and led 39-34 following a Kevon Lacey layup with 16:05 remaining. By the next time Evansville scored, with 8:17 on the clock, IU rattled off 22 points.
In the end, these wins are over teams that really should be no match for a program like Indiana. It’s hard to say if any of this will carry over to the Big 10 play. But unlike last year, it’s nice to see IU physically dominating the teams it should.