Hoosiers advance with 71-56 win over Wildcats

CHICAGO — By the end of the night, a must-win game in their Big Ten Tournament opener, the Hoosiers were smiling rather than sulking.

In a game that would determine the direction of their March, the Hoosiers opened with a spirited end-to-end effort and used a game-high 25 points from James Blackmon Jr. in a 71-56 win over Northwestern Thursday at the United Center.

The win snaps a three-game skid and secures a matchup with Maryland tonight at 6:30 in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament.

Yet for all that was gained in IU’s first win since Feb. 22, the question now is what Indiana has lost. Hanner Mosquera-Perea went down with an apparent right knee injury — the same one that he hurt in mid January — with 10 minutes remaining, leaving the court under the guidance of IU’s training staff. He returned to the Hoosiers’ bench at the final media timeout with his right knee heavily wrapped with ice.

Although Perea’s loss would be a significant blow to an Indiana team that appears to have rediscovered its swagger, there would be precedent. Indiana beat the Terrapins in late January while Perea recovered from his kneecap injury.

The Hoosiers secured their date in the next round with a 21-1 run that gave them a 24-6 lead over the first 11 minutes of the game. It was a comfortable cushion for IU, which prevented the Wildcats from cutting their deficit to single digits the rest of the way. Most impressive was Indiana’s ability to generate offense and momentum from its defense. The Hoosiers closed the passing lanes, played with urgency and refused to get beat on the easy looks that have doomed them so often this season.

Even when the shots stopped falling to begin the second half, Indiana found that its activity on both ends of the court led to second chances and sustained patience. The Hoosiers held Tre Demps, who torched them in Evanston 15 days earlier, to only three first-half shots and two total points.

Indiana dominated on the glass, out-rebounding Northwestern 42-25. The Hoosiers hustled for 20 offensive rebounds, which led to 20 second-chance points to the Wildcats’ three. Troy Williams led IU with 12 boards.

For Blackmon, it was a return to his former self after the freshman appeared to hit a wall late in the season. He commemorated his first collegiate postseason game with an 8-for-15 shooting night that was complemented by 17 points by Yogi Ferrell.

21 comments

  1. I’m glad IU won but this is a game they should have won just as they should have beaten NW in Evanston. If IU beats Maryland on a ‘neutral, court (after both won at home), then they have earned an NCAA bid. If not, maybe they do or maybe they don’t but nobody should think they’ve earned that right after the way they’ve played in February and March.

  2. That was by far the quickest I’ve ever seen Blackmon play. He didn’t look at all like his normal self. There was none of the normal gliding… it was movement with purpose and even a little bit of power. Shooting is rarely something you can count on, but if he plays with that type of energy and movement then we will be a completely different team. Also happy to see Holt play with real purpose. Been wondering where his confidence went, and glad to see him play fearlessly tonight.

  3. Agreed, Geoff. We played with an energy and purpose I haven’t seen for a while.

    But our big men still can’t set screens.

  4. First of all, solid win. And one we absolutely had to have.

    Secondly, what a disappointing showing by my fellow Scoopsters. I had to watch on “tape delay,” or whatever you call it these days. But by my estimation the game was actually over well over an hour ago. Four comments– one of them semi-negative– after what is unquestionably our most important game this year? Lose tonight and we’re done, folks. Our season’s still alive after a game we played pretty well in and absolutely had to have. If we had lost, we’d have at least 25 posts about firing Crean by now. Are most of us truly incapable of cheering for our team anymore?

    Okay, rant over. Great first half. So-so second half, but a lot of shots didn’t go down. Fortunately, neither did NW’s. Loved out defensive effort to start. Where’s that been all year? Hanner’s knee looks like it was completely shredded at first glance, but he was somehow able to limp it off. I’d guess he misses some serious time and is probably done for the year,, but who knows?

    Another huge game tomorrow. It’s not quite the must win today’s was, but it’s pretty damn close. If we can play tomorrow like we played most of today, I like our chances. Go Big Red!

  5. Congrats for a great effort from the team….Played really unselfish ball and with high energy..Now let’s take down Maryland!

    Told ya that Blackmon was a baller….

  6. We took 19 more shots and hit 7, 5 of which were 3s. The reason? Rebounding. We pounded them on the glass by 17, 15 of which were offensive! Now THAT my friends is why we got 19 more shots.

    Kudos to James Blackmon Jr. His best game, by far, of the year. And emotion? What???

    This was an encouraging performance. We played with purpose. And we have something to prove with a bit of confidence vs. Maryland. Although Maryland sure looked good, and peaking, last week. But if we play with the purpose and energy we played with tonight, it’ll at least be a nail-biter.

    Happy with the effort, for once.

    I hope Perea is ok, but that looks like an ACL or MCL injury now. It is a sad way for Holt and April to get more PT. I’m still not sure why April doesn’t get at least 5 – 10 minutes given his size and 5 fouls to give.

  7. I’m here in Chicago and enjoyed my first game at the United Center. Great IU win. They wanted it tonight and I loved seeing it. I love seeing a mostly IU crowd show up.

    I don’t know if anyone remembers it, but with about 5 min into the game, Blackmon pressured the inbounds pass knocking the ball lose and just pestered his guy as he struggled to get up the floor. He passed the ball, NW took a wild shot and we rebounded. That was my favorite Blackmon play tonight, and he had a lot of great moments.

    On to Maryland!

  8. WOW!!! What rebounding. Sound D, pressuring the ball, finally. Played with lots of energy. Energy is what made for a good game from Jr. I suspect it will be the same against Maryland.

    I’ll be in Bobby Plumb’s Last Shot Tavern during the game tonight having dinner. What a great venue to watch that game in. Maybe some of his magic will rub off.

  9. I honestly think Hoosier nation would rather see Crean just get things figured out. It’s just after 7 years he has something to prove to the fan base because in my opinion the fan base has been patient. We aren’t starting baseball players any more. We’ve got talent. Crean has had some tough breaks with games over the last 2 years and with big men recently. If he can land bryant or Maker he has the potential of putting his best team on the floor yet, if no one goes pro. If they make the NCAA IU can not fire Crean. Who is going to take a job where you make the NCAA and get fired? Nobody. If Crean does survive….and with an NCAA bid he will, it’s time to get
    his issues straight and just win baby.

  10. Ben:

    Let me just clarify something. Just making the tournament should not be a huge deal for IU it should be expected every single year and with a relatively high seed as the norm. I won’t harp on this – but as they say – one should be evaluated on their entire body of work. If that does not get CTC fired than I really can not even type what I’d like to here. Winning a couple games does not simply make a bad coach suddenly a good one.

    In regards to not firing a coach who makes the tournament ( who would take a job at a school who did that ) – the answer is everybody not nobody. There’s about 3 1/2 million reasons per year there will be a long line to take the job. There have been a ton of coaches who were fired after making the NCAA Tournament. In keeping it close to home – specifically at IU – Dakich ( the interm coach for Sampson ) did not get retained I guess you would say. This is a unique situation with Sampson getting let go – etc. – and not the best example. I guess the much better example would be Mike Davis. Davis actually took the team to the NCAA tournament as a #6 seed and won the first round game. Then he was fired. Not to long ago – IU had higher expectations.

  11. CRIMSON, what is the basis of your comment, “Just making the tournament should not be a huge deal for IU it should be expected every single year and with a relatively high seed as the norm.”? Bob Knight, one of the greatest coaches in the history of college basketball did not make the tournament every year he coached at IU! Bob Knight’s teams did not always receive “high seeds” every year, either. So please, explain why IU’s teams going forward “SHOULD” always be a high seed in the tournament.

    I understand that is the collective hope of all IU fans, but you speak as if it ordained. You speak as if IU’s basketball coach should have the ability to recruit the five best players every year, to prevent injuries, to prevent players from leaving early for the NBA, to have absolute control over the off-court behavior of his players, to have the ability to prevent players from transferring, and the ability to control other teams’ performance. But why “should” IU be any more able to achieve such consistent success than any other school? Yes, IU was once considered an elite basketball program. Bot not any more. A succession of terrible college administrators and asleep-at-the-wheel Boards of Trustees, who did not make maintaining IU’s elite status in basketball, or who assumed that IU’s success would magically sustain and renew itself, neglected and mismanaged that once elite program to the point of irrelevance.

    And by the way, if Crean was to be fired next month, the line of candidates to replace him would not be as long as you think, and IU’s fans would not be assured that Crean’s replacement would be any more effective or successful than he has been. And $3.5 million per year, while still a lot of money, is not as elite a compensation package for college basketball coaches as it was a few years ago. The college basketball world has caught up and in some ways passed IU basketball. We, as IU’s alumni and fans, are partially responsible for allowing that to happen. And returning IU basketball back to a truly elite program is going to involve a lot more than just replacing the current coach.

  12. Yes, IU was once considered an elite basketball program. Bot not any more.

    How many effing times are we going to hear some version of this from Podunker? The man is relentless at beating down the school he supposedly loves…Some kind of love. We get it, Podunker….We’re a cheap floozy of a school that hasn’t been elite for a couple decades…That long lonely path into irrelevance has led us to a place where we have to hire carnival salesman and preachers…We had to hire an AD that had no experience in running a sports organization…We had to hire a head coach that must appeal to recruits and their families because of aligned faith doctrines rather than by simply being a masterful coach …We had to hire people leading our program that care more about constantly elevating their own image by chasing what you claim is “not any more” and making long, drawn out witch-hunts over those that stole “elite.” Get the picture, friend…? They’re just like you…They spend so much time and effort reminding us of what we used to be or how someone else effed it all up, that it paints defeatism all over the walls of Assembly Hall….It’s really rather pathetic.

    It was nice to see Blackmon really have a nice game yesterday…It was enjoyable to see a Hoosier team put forth effort and play the game at an “elite”: level of concern for what the candy stripes should always embody…Some just don’t get that…..They think lulls and some early exits in tournament appearances (like those by Knight just before Davis was granted one of Knight’s best recruiting classes in quite a few years) should be a reason to sell coaches that brought those banners to IU as somehow, ultimately, failures…. And then, by way of convenience, when the new “preachers” and “villain chasers”…and “fireworks salesman” can’t command respect by bringing a quality product(especially in terms of b-ball IQ and effort) or get Indiana anywhere near fresh achievements their own right, they find it the perfect time to have 30-year-old reunions and old banner parties to slather the “not any more” greatness like a fake tan upon their own skin…..

    Relentless defeatism….and reminders of what Indiana is “not any more”…..And what of the many teams that have never been “elite”(by historical definition of banner/Final Four success) that find ways to build successful D-1 basketball teams and play the game as if they don’t carry such burdens of excuses on their shoulders to make mediocrity o.k.? Was Butler “elite” before Brad Stevens took the team into regular tournament appearances and found a way to get to back-to-back Final Fours….? And now they still play very solid basketball…..I’m not sure how much more “elite” Brad Stevens made Butler than the current Butler coach….What is more obvious is that there is a philosophy in place that demands hiring men that know the game to teach the game….Thad Matta also help build that philosophy that goes far beyond recruiting the next D-Wade or future lottery pick. .

    There’s a belief that talent should not be lusted over for the sake of excusing effort and execution….There are more important things in the game than obsessing over villains and how successful coaches of the past can fade and be human….They don’t care about the past….They see “elite” as how we present ourselves on the court today…Do we dwell on what we struggle to recapture in day when basketball was a far different product with far different recruiting challenges…or do we define what we want to be in the very moment? It’s a choice…

    It’s not Hoosier fans that hide behind the success those long ago banners..From all the Fred fireworks….the villain chasing of an assistant coach five years outside an NCAA investigation…the countless reunion parties…the turning to practice facility into a 1970’s museum of photos from Knight’s teams….the chasing of Bob Knight for a handshake….etc, etc, etc……It’s not Hoosier fans that hold onto the old “elite” like a trophy wife ….It’s the new boys in town that simply need it to validate a part of themselves they must feel somehow inferior and incapable to replicate….And we, the fans, are not asking it to be replicated…We’re just asking for “elite” effort and an IQ for the game that is not an insult to the uniform and the great history of basketball in Indiana.

    Proud of IU….Proud it has sustained a level of respect for the game…Proud we play without a bullying mentality….Proud that we have fans that can know better when defeatism attempts to fog the truth of where competence makes the real difference between pathways toward “elite” in each and every moment a possession as opposed to holding onto the past(as if it were the ultimate stagnant weaving and purposeless offense) as a reminder of how long its been since we scored at anything.. I’m proud to know that recruits come to Indiana(whether utlimately deceived in the false hope) never accepting Indiana to be anything but “elite” and forever representative of the top of a select number of national basketball programs demanding more than just where individual talent can take the game….

    And to those that think we are no longer “elite” simply by the years removed since philosophy failed to meet the rare glory to be an only team left standing at the end of a long road of brackets and the dozens of forgotten battles where Hoosiers played tried and true against tough as hell teams…..? Eff you. with your defeatism and reunions that suck on the old Hoosier nipple….Eff you.

  13. Let’s win tonight!!! Let’s be “elite” with every possession! Let’s go dancing on a Friday night!…Howard Crean…? Here’s how were going to attack Maryland and March Madness brackets…….Hold onto your flying black squirrel toupee, Joe Lunardi !! Hoosiers are coming for you!

  14. Tsao-

    If you ever get tired of toking on the vintage Nam….and join the fun again, let it be known that it was your unwavering heart always a Hoosier that inspired my effort in #14….It can’t compare to your “elite” level of eloquence, but it was offered as a note of faith and remembrance for all you hope and believe in Indiana. …Never the defeatist. Forever young in mind and heart…and spirit: That is Tsao Tsu Gonzalez of Hoosier Scoop.

    Hope you’re doing well……

  15. I guess the truth hurts, Harv. All the words you typed in #14 to express your outrage were simply more of your typical fallacious pap. You don’t refute the points, you simply attack without an attempt at honest debate. You attribute your dark and paranoid thoughts to others, even though they have no relation to what was written. You cynically attempt to assign motives to others without ever trying to discover what their motives really are. You have tunnel vision and you simplemindedly focus your disdain on the easy targets (Crean, and lately Glass). Anybody rational person paying attention knows my loyalty to and support of IU, and most of them understand that the problem with IU basketball was not created by Tom Crean. He’s just an easy scapegoat for disgruntled fans seeking instant gratification. My point is, the problem won’t be solved by simply replacing the coach and/or AD. Have a nice weekend and Go Hoosiers, beat Maryland and prove your critics wrong.

  16. That’s a great post Podunker. I know your a true fan. We tend to think alike. Hope the family is well.

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