If you were smart, you would have turned to the BCS National Championship game (Edit: Nevermind. That game sucked too.) at halftime of this game. The Hoosiers put together a very solid first 20 minutes but the second half made me what to gouge my eye balls out. Nearly all the Hoosiers were hitting early and nearly all the Hoosiers were turning it over later on. This puts IU at 2-0 in conference, tied with Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin for first. Getting 2 road wins to start conference play will be crucial later on.
Christian Watford came out engaged and effective which is always a good sign of things to come. It is pivotal for Christian to not disappear, something he is pretty good at, in the much bigger conference games. Jordan Hulls loves shooting in the Bryce Jordan Center, shooting 4-5 from three after a 7-9 performance last year. Victor Oladipo connected with Cody Zeller on a couple pretty touch passes in transition. Yogi Ferrell continued to show me he is an absolute stud on-the-ball defender.
Aside from his defense, Yogi provided very little in terms of stats. His line: 1 point, 1 assist, 1 rebound and 1 steal. I’m also waiting for this much improved Hanner Mosquera-Perea I keep hearing about in practice. He gets lost on defense way too much. We saw a flashback to Freshman Oladipo on a couple of his turnovers tonight.
Penn State is no Michigan in terms of offense efficiency but as a team the Hoosiers really shut them down. They played a 2-3 zone and it actually worked sometimes! I would be lying if I said Indiana caused all 19 of the Nittany Lions turnovers but they were able to turn them into easy scores and really put this game away in the first eight minutes.
A few takeaways from this game that are potential red flags: defensive rebounding, turnovers, and free throw shooting. The Hoosiers gave up way too many offensive boards in this one and that is a definite cause for concern with Minnesota, the nation’s best offensive rebounding team coming up next. Many of the turnovers happened in the second half and seemed to be a lack of concentration more than anything. It’s amazing how Penn State didn’t make up any sort of ground with the amount of extra possessions they got. Lastly, the free throw shooting was a little discomforting, just 22-34 (65%), eleven percent below their season average.
Team Grade: B
Looking Forward- A game that not many anticipated at the beginning of the year has turned into a must-see match-up of two top ten teams, when Minnesota comes to B-town on Saturday. Indiana’s tough conference home opener will be an important one as both teams try to get a huge early win in conference play. It’s nearly impossible to come into Assembly Hall and beat the Hoosiers but the Golden Gophers did it last year and look for repeated success. It should be a great game.