Was this the game that the fans called for all along? “Stop playing zone,” they said. We maybe saw one time IU went zone. “Cody Zeller needs more touches,” they said. There was a much more determined effort by the team to get the ball down low to their big man. “This team needs to find out how to close teams out,” they said. This game lacked any sort of real drama, which is good in this case. That is what they asked for. On Sunday, that is what they received.
As the season drives on, you normally can tell which guys on a team are going to consistently be the team’s core source of offense. For this Indiana team, I think it’s safe to say Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, and Christian Watford is said source. Sunday’s game proves this theory. Those three players combined to score 70 points (Oladipo 26; Zeller 24; Watford 20), in other words 86% of all the team’s scoring, while shooting a ridiculous 69% (22-32) from the field and 84% (21-25) from the free throw line. If you didn’t notice, that 70 point trio is more points than Ohio State scored as a team.
While those three deserve all the attention for putting up monster games, the contributions from everyone else were pretty poor. Jordan Hulls shot was broke from the get go. The bench provided no offense aside from Will Sheehey knocking down a couple shots in the second half. Now I won’t discredit them just because they didn’t produce. The fact is this was one of IU’s best 40-minute games they have put together against an opponent like that in a long time. So while the box score shows bad, I will say that overall the whole team played well.
It will be interesting to see if 1) IU continues to run their offense through Cody and 2) What other teams will do to counter that. Ohio State tried to handle him 1-on-1 and Big Z got a bucket or got fouled nearly every time. If they try to completely take him out of the game, that is fine because IU has the weapons around him that they are freeing up to do so. This is a very pick your poison sort of offense but it all starts with giving the big man touches. If you just give him the ball, he will make the right decision 99% of the time.
Team Grade: A
Looking Forward- The Hoosiers get a relatively easy week before going through the gauntlet to finish off the regular season. These two games are vital to get wins now before everything starts winding down. First up is Nebraska at home. The Cornhuskers have three wins in conference but two of those are against winless Penn St. I’m sure the players will want to absolutely smash them after what happened last year. See ya on Wednesday.