Indiana outruns Iowa, 103-89

Indiana’s game at Wisconsin on Thursday was one in which every single possession had game-changing possibilities. In which every turnover and every blown defensive assignment was magnified, and one that essentially turned on three offensive rebounds.

Indiana’s game against Iowa on Sunday was pretty much the exact opposite, and the Hoosiers seemed as comfortable in the wide-open, free flowing track meet of a game as they have been in months.

The No. 16 Hoosiers scored more points (54) in the first half than they did in the entire game Thursday (50). They allowed Iowa to shoot just short of 80 percent in the second half, but had already build a comfortable lead and cruised to a 103-89 win over the Hawkeyes in front of 17,243 at Assembly Hall. 

The Hoosiers’ 103 points were the most any Big Ten team has scored in a conference game this season and the most the Hoosiers have scored since roundhousing Howard 107-50 on Dec. 19. It was the first time the Hoosiers scored 100 points in a conference game since March 12, 1995, when they beat Iowa 110-79.

“It was obviously a big change,” senior forward Tom Pritchard said. “… We settled in. That’s just the pace that we like to play at.”

Iowa likes to play uptempo, but the Hawkeyes never could keep up with an Indiana team averaging a Big Ten best 78.4 points per game.

Freshman forward Cody Zeller scored a career high 26 points on an astounding 11-for-12 from the field and also recorded four assists, but he admitted his life was pretty easy on Sunday night. Thanks to outstanding dribble penetration by the Hoosiers and also a speedy transition game, Zeller was able to score most of his points on dunks off of drop-off passes. Eight of his 11 baskets came on dunks.

“I had a pretty easy job,” Zeller said. “Just catch it and dunk it. Our guards did a really nice job of finding me in the alley a couple of times. Verdell (Jones) did a really nice job of finding me. … The guards did a really nice job of getting into the paint and finding me whether I was in the alley or kicking it out to one of our shooters. I think the biggest thing was the guards were able to get it in to the middle of the lane.”

No one did it better than Jones. The senior guard has seen his share of struggles this season, but he was brilliant on Sunday, with 14 points and nine assists against just three turnovers.

“Verdell’s making a lot better decisions,” junior forward Derek Elston said. “I can definitely tell he’s not rushing it anymore. When he gets into the huddles after timeouts, he kind of is letting everybody know what he’s going to be doing and where everybody should be at that time. Verdell’s decision making these past couple of days even in practice has just been phenomenal. He’s kind of just been the team leader so far. He’s been the floor general for us, and it really showed tonight.”

Jones’s penetration opened things up for shooters and post players alike. Junior forward Christian Watford had 15 points and seven rebounds. Sophomore guard Victor Oladipo broke out of a recent slump with 12 points, six rebounds and three assists. Elston had 11 points, knocking down a pair of 3-pointers. Sophomore swingman Will Sheehey — who made his first start of the season in order to matchup with Iowa’s Zach McCabe — scored 10 points. The Hoosiers shot 55.2 percent from the field.

Sheehey, who also showed up in the locker room on Sunday with a shaven head, also held McCabe to just three points. He was one of the few IU players who could point to a sterling defensive performance, as Iowa shot 63 percent from the field, including a ludicrous 79.2 percent (19-for-24) in the second half. Iowa freshman guard Josh Oglesby hit six 3-pointers for 24 points. Senior guard Matt Gatens had 2, and sophomore guard Roy Devyn Marble had 13 points and five assists.

However, Indiana owned the battle of the paint after being brutalized by Iowa inside in the last two seasons and the last four meetings. The Hoosiers grabbed 37 rebounds to Iowa’s 22 and 20 offensive rebounds to just seven for Iowa. They scored 58 points in the paint to Iowa’s 40.

“To have said what was said about us and what these guys have done to us in the past and to come out and do that and to get to the point where we were putting in (Raphael Smith) and (Taylor Wayer) and (Kory Barnett) and (Jeff Howard) in a Big Ten game, that’s huge for us,” Elston said. “… Everybody came out with that toughness that we needed and we just kind of ran with it. Once we got in a flow, it was hard to stop us.”

AUDIO: Cody Zeller, Tom Pritchard and Derek Elston

AUDIO: Tom Crean



  1. Props to Verdell Jones: 9 assists, 3 TO’s, 14 points and solid decision making. Good job Verdell. Keep playing that way (please).

  2. Career game for VJIII. Jury’s still out whether this team can step-it-up & win on the road in this league. Steal a W @ MI or @ purdue & I’ll feel much better. For that matter I’ll personally settle for holding court @ home & beating Iowa & Minn on the road.

  3. Wow, Pritch must have put on his Sullinger disguise! Suddenly he was treated fairly. 1 foul in 13 minutes, a new record, and he was in the thick of things a lot. He even drew 2 charges, I never would have believed it!

    Verdell has strung together two nice games in a row. He made his usual 2-3 bonehead plays, but more than made up for it, I think. Tonight he really just turned the corner and blew by some defenders on the dribble, much like Oladipo has done in the past.

  4. I was glad to see Oladipo play his game again.
    Just don’t know why they play so darn differently at home than away, imo.

  5. I’m hoping this is the Verdell we’ll see from this point on. That’s probably the guy that shows up at practice every day, ya think? Jordy got pulled but, really, when he was reinserted he played well. Cody was great but he was the beneficiary of some incredible passing. I liked the way he responded to a mugging with a major rejection. Props to Elston. The Sheehey/Vic rotation worked to perfection. I got 2 minutes at the end, didja see me?

    I’m not too concerned about giving up a lot of points. That’s just the way these kind of game roll. We aren’t going to win 103-58. That’s just not reasonable.

    One-oh-three and hardly any threes, who’da guessed that?

  6. Interesting to look at how some of college basketball’s other top-tier programs (ones with titles in the last 20 years) are performing this year:

    National champs UConn 14-6
    UCLA 12-9
    Kansas 17-4
    Arizona 14-8
    Florida 17-4
    Michigan St. 17-4

    I know we can’t win on the road, but I will happily accept our 17-5 record in this ‘rebuilding year.’

  7. Change was great for this game. Guys came off the bench ready to go. We traded baskets for awhile and starting putting things in order to close the game tough. I realize Iowa defense was an asset, but we did get our lead then kept our foot on their throat and closed out.

    I said it in the LIVE COMMENTS , Thank you Verdell.

    Other things to discuss, which are positive. I think
    I will stop and enjoy for now and look forward to discussion leading up to our next two opponents. Mich and Purdue.

    That was good for all.

  8. Allowing 89 points in a game is bad… Even if we win the game, that just cannot happen, especially at home. Crean’s teams have never shown the ability to play consistent, fundamental defense. No matter how talented the team, you are eventually going to get beat if your players are out of position. IU’s defensive positioning at times makes me wonder if he knows what he’s doing on that side of the ball. I hate Purdue, but watch the way they guard people compared to IU. If we could get Crean’s recruiting with Painter’s coaching then we might win a title. Until then, IU will consistently have letdowns.

  9. As far as “points allowed” sometimes you just have to play the game you’re in. This was a ‘high scoring’ game by both sides with IU winning convincingly. Would we prefer playing defense to the degree that the opponent only gets 57 points (Wisconsin) but IU loses by 6? I think not.

  10. I kill our back court all year and they show up (against Iowa mind you) but still hopefully this will start trending! I agree 100% with what you said Optimus on CTC”S never being able to show the ability to play consistent fundamental defense. Theory (where do we killed night after night on D?) Gaurd play. That changes next year with Yogi coming in. Let’s face it if IU didn’t win this game the headline in the paper would read “gaurd for Iowa almost ties big ten three point record at assembly hall!” Everything else you said makes me laugh but you do have a point on our poor defense especially gaurding the three point line. But now to $Z! What a monster! I called into a serius xm radio show and ask them if Zeller might leave after this season? I was connected quickly to my surprise and they said CTC would have to work some magic to get him to stay. Broke my heart! But he followed it up with ” the class coming in should make for for any player that leaves IU.) Loved our effort and ball movement tonight. Keep it up IU two BIG GAMES ahead. Let’s hear some predictions from those who aren’t to scared. IU wins both!!!

  11. Does anyone else feel that Zeller will leave IU after one year? Just haven’t heard that much from those that are close to the program.

    Agree that our guard defense is suspect. But I would argue that we fail just as much with the help defense that could help prevent the blow bys.

    Leave a defensive player on an island and more often than naught they will be beaten. It will be fun to see Yogi next year paired with VO or Hulls.


  12. Zeller is not ready for the NBA. He still struggles against physically stronger players, which is any big in the NBA. Nor do I see the mentality of a kid looking to do one and done. Both his brothers stayed four years, and I believe it is due to his family. They will likely encourage him to stay.

  13. I think Zeller will stay at least 3 years, maybe all four. I’m certain he’ll get his degree before moving on — education is important to him. Sure, he could still get his degree if he went to the pros after one year, but I think he’ll stay in college. If for no other reason than he’s having fun as a college student and as a college player.

  14. Not at all worried about giving up 89 points in this game. 10-12 of those points were scored after the starters were out. The game was over by the mid-point of the second half. Iowa wanted to run on offense and trap on defense and IU knew they could beat them at that game and they did. IU’s focus on offensive boards kept us from getting back on defense sometimes but that paid off with points for our side nonetheless. We played good D in the last two games and will again when needed. Iowa’s running and pressuring game has already beaten two talented BigTen teams who tried to hold them down with tight defense. This was a fun game to watch. Must have set an Assembly Hall record for dunks tonight.

  15. I agree Optimus, defesively we are NOT where we need to be. I also wonder why we try to play the other team’s game. By that I mean at WI we tried to grind it out possession by possession like the Badgers, last night we ran with Iowa. Why don’t we play at our own tempo?

  16. Boomer, I think you’re right. I just can’t see Cody leaving before he graduates, whether it’s in 4 years or just three. I don’t believe the Zellers see college as just a stepping stone to the NBA. If that’s all they wanted he’s be at Kentucky.

  17. Good news: if we play against Michigan Wednesday night the same way we played Iowa, we could score 103 in Ann Arbor.
    Bad news: If we play the same way against Michigan, we will get beat 150-103.

  18. IMO CZ stays at least 3 yrs, if not all 4.

    I loved the offense last night & wished we’d play tighter “D” but the over-all look was better than what we’ve seen against Minn, Neb, OSU & Wis. I would just like to see a quality road win. We have Mi, PU, Ia & Minn remaining away games. 2-2 would be nice, but 3-1 would be great. I really think IU can end up 23-8. That is what I predicted mid-Dec. To accomplish this IU cannot lose focus like they did in early January. Get some nice road wins, then beating Illini, MSU & PU at home would build great momentum as well as confidence heading toward tourney. I like that CTC changed the lineup a bit. Let’s keep it going and build a juggernaut. Go Hoosiers!!

  19. Bloom says no way Zeller stays more than 2 years.

    Glad we won, but letting them shoot 80% the second half is a complete joke.

  20. Great job VJ3! I have hammered him all season,and what is right is right! Its amazing what can happen playing through Cody! I hope he does not revert back,he could be a difference maker the rest of the season.SCARY! We cannot rest on this game going into a two game road trip to teams that hate our guts!Michigan and Purdue are not going to let us run loose like Iowa!IU will have to play DEFENSE and keep the T/O’S down! Starting five changes really worked for both players well,as well as Elston showing like the guy we knew as a freshman and The Pritch let us know he has some left in the tank!Jordy continues to scare me with all the dribbling and really not looking for his shot.How do we fix the D ? Hope to steal one !

  21. Brian – I think that last night was the pace that this team prefers to play at. It’s pretty simple, IU is 6-5 when scoring 75 points or less and 11-0 when scoring more than 75 points. When IU is at it’s best this year it’s when the game is at a faster pace, with more possessions, and higher scores.

    To be fair, it is very difficult for anyone to force a tempo against Wisconsin. They are very good at what they do, have been doing it well for quite a few years, and do it against everyone. You can’t blame Crean or IU for not determining the tempo in that game, we just aren’t nearly physically dominant enough to make UW uncomfortable.

    If two teams are close in athleticism and skill it is always easier for a team to slow down tempo than for a team to speed it up. It is only when their is a large gap in athleticism or skill that a team can FORCE another team to play at a faster pace.


    SCARY or ironic? How far can this team go when Jones produces results like he did last night? Did his renaissance produce the chemistry to create the quality performances from DE and TP? I still can hardly believe what I saw. Was JH’s time on the court last night directly related to VJ’s play or was WS’s starting role equally as contributing? I think Coach Crean just created more on floor options for the 2nd 1/2 of the B10.

  23. Laffy, no team should ever be proud of 80% defensive FG%, but it is all relative. Ever watch Grinnell play? If not, google them. They are 15-1 this year, but give up 99 points per game. Their philosophy is to get a shot up within 5 seconds, and to create a turnover or allow a shot (even a lay-up) within 5 seconds. They sub like a hockey team, in waves about every minute or two.

    Before employing “The System”, Grinnell was basically the worst team in the conference, a perrenial cellar-dweller. But in the past decade they have won 3 conference championships, and are on a way to a 4th this year. Sure their defense is terrible statistically, but their record certainly doesn’t reflect that.

    The point isn’t that IU should employ “The System”, but that defense should be looked at in the proper perspective of the game. IU was getting high quality shots on offense, wer comfortable with the pace, were crashing the offensive boards effectively, and creating turnovers. Sure IU allowed 79% shooting in the second half, but the halftime lead was 17 points and when the core players went out of the game for good with 2:30 left IU was up 21…

    So despite the ddefensive shooting percentage IU played +4 basketball over the first 17:30 minutes of the second half.

  24. Just an observation, when Verdell is handling point with Will in the game (as opposed to Vic) that gives Verdell another outside scoring (I think we’d all agree VO has a bug in his head on his outside shot right now) option to feed. If Vic is in he’s going to the hole, which is what Verdell wants to do as well. That is an option for WS, but so is the jumper. So, basically, VO and VJ have a similar, though obviously not identical, skill set but play different roles. The additional outside threat opened up the lane for Verdell.

    Conversely, later in the game when Jordy re-entered he was more effective playing with VO. While not on display everyone on the floor respected Jordy as an outside threat and less likely to penetrate. That spread the defense more to let VO operate in the lane.

    I think both combinations pulled the defense away from the glass. I also think the way the game played out gave CTC a lot more information regarding team synergy that will be very beneficial down the road.

    Just my two cents worth. Gotta go take the wheels off the house.

  25. I like to get ‘for sale’ signs from people’s yards and staple them up. With the print facing in, of course. I always just duct tape the last couple ’cause I need to clear out the critters every so often. Only problem is duct tape doesn’t stick so well in the cold.

    The straw attracted rats.

  26. Going off on a bit of a tangent here by way of inspiration from Geoff’s thoughts…

    There are some bloggers on here that never stop with the reminders of Knight’s last 10 years of sub-par tournament performances. We’re not “elite” anymore..blah, blah, blah. Knight was irrelevant for the last 10 years he coached…blah..blah..blah. Not going to research it, but I would be willing to bet many of those years were filled with very successful conference records and the Hoosiers were nothing approaching a “bubble” team going into NCAA play.

    My recollection many of those early exits for our Hoosier teams playing for Bobby in the ’90s involved teams like Cleveland State…teams that were athletic and could run us off the floor. Knight’s teams didn’t have the deep interchangeable parts on the roster to keep pace, and our slower style of play, coupled with the fact our size in the lineup didn’t provide us enough up-and-down court speed, severely hampered us when shocked by a team always in fast-forward(much like the gazelles on Grinnel’s team Geoff describes).

    Assuming we finish strong and secure an NCAA bid, I think this team has the depth and athleticism to adapt to different styles..We can dare teams a bit into kicking up the pace and force them into paying a heavy price in underestimating and stereotyping the type of ball played in Indiana. Obviously, we’re still limited at the guard positions to dial that speed up too quickly(e.g. a team that has McDonald’s All-Americans in the backcourt), but at least we won’t be completely caught on our heels when we face someone in an early round that really wants to push the pace. Conversely, Crean may quickly decipher we have the ingredients to push the pace on a team that looks a bit deficient in depth or has more cumbersome post players, etc.

    The certain amount of chemistry and flow lost this season by going deep into our roster and playing the revolving door game(continuity being the “opportunity cost”), will be interest in the bank when we come up against teams that pose challenges to putting our best mix on the floor to adapt to changing style. Crean can easily adapt outside the first seven in his rotation, provide perimeter shooting and some extra legs in up-tempo games, and still offer match-up challenges for opponents when they finally need to give their gazelles a breather on the bench.

    The latent chemistry dynamic that looked like the mixing and matching of a mad scientist with clueless test tubes will finally be brought to life. Now if Crean can just bring Remy back from the dead.

  27. Feeling good about Iowa.

    Loking over the box score for Ohio State-Michigan and Purdue-Michigan.
    Reviewed our win over Michigan at home.

    The pick and roll and the spread offense that Michigan pretty much runs. Our line up to get things started?
    I like the Zeller, Pritchard and Elston to control the boards , when Michigan brings in Smotrycz to compliment Morgan. Vic/Sheehey to guard Burke or Hardaway Jr?

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