IU escapes with road victory in Big Ten opener, defeats Iowa 69-65

WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana eked out a road win to begin its Big Ten season, nipping Iowa 69-65 in front of a raucous crowd of 15,400 at Carver Hawkeye Arena.

Indiana led by as many as 10 points in the second half, but Iowa stormed back to come within a point of the lead with 6:20 to go. The Hoosiers kept the Hawkeyes at bay, however, thanks in large part to a number of key defensive stops and a critical putback off a Cody Zeller miss by junior guard Victor Oladipo. That put Indiana up 65-60 with 1:05 to go, and the Hoosiers got just enough free throws and stops down the final stretch to hold on.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Oladipo’s putback was critical down the stretch as were two free throws in the final minute that gave Indiana a 67-62 lead. He finished with his first career double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds and also held Iowa guard Roy Devyn Marble to 1-for-14 shooting.

Sophomore center Cody Zeller struggled early, but scored 15 second-half points to finish with 19 points and 10 rebounds. He was 5-for-7 in the second half and also a perfect 5-for-5 from the free throw line.

Junior swingman Will Sheehey also scored 13 points, using his mid-range game to find holes in Iowa’s 2-3 zone. Senior forward Christian Watford also finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, and freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell had nine points, seven rebounds and four assists.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: On its worst shooting night of the season — IU was 40 percent from the field — Indiana won mostly with defense, holding Iowa to 33.3 percent shooting. The Hoosiers used man-to-man and a 2-3 zone to frustrate Marble with Oladipo doing a typically outstanding job when he drew the assignment. Iowa power forward Aaron White managed to find room to work underneath the basket for 15 points and guard Mike Gessell scored 13, but the Hoosiers didn’t give up much on the perimeter and won the rebounding battle 46-39.

IU senior guard Jordan Hulls had his worst shooting night, missing on all 10 of his attempts, but Indiana found other ways of scoring points. Ferrell and Oladipo drove on the Hawkeyes when Iowa used man and Sheehey used his mid-range game to beat them when they were in zone. Zeller started aggressive and picked up two fouls in the first half, but then went at Iowa much harder in the second half to give the Hoosiers an advantage inside. IU finished with 40 points in the paint to Iowa’s 28, and overcame a turnover deficit.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: That the Hoosiers can withstand blows on the road and survive. It was obvious throughout that Indiana was in its first true road game and not at all used to the noise level provided by the Carver-Hawkeye crowd or the adrenaline that Iowa played with at home. It was also obvious that Indiana was not used to having its offense struggle and that it certainly wasn’t prepared for the idea of an 0-for-10 shooting night from Hulls. But they held on anyway and because of that, they come away with both a victory and an understand of what the rest of the season is going to be like. They won’t be able to simply athletically overwhelm opponents in the next two months like they were for mot of the last two, and this game will give them a lot to take back to the drawing board with a week to go until their upcoming road game at Penn State.


Tom Crean:

“This was truly one of those 15-round heavyweight fight games that the Big Ten is full of,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “Where you can’t necessarily land the knockout punch. You just want to make sure it doesn’t get landed on you. We ended up having (four more points) at the end. … Excellent win for us. Not a textbook win, but not many of them are.”

“We did not have a great day shooting the ball. But the bottom line is that we defended, we rebounded, we overcame decision making sometimes. We had a short memory when we made mistakes which is really crucial in the sense of having the right kind of mental toughness and being able to go and withstand things on the road this way. We got some great, great individual performances.”

On Zeller

“I think he just kept playing the game. I don’t think he got rattled. It’s easy to drop your head a little bit when you’re missing close shots and when you’re not going to the line like you think you should, but that’s not Cody. His mental toughness is so strong, it just doesn’t affect him. … He just continues to go. He was very vocal. He was very vocal this morning when we did our walk-through in the ballroom. We didn’t come over here to shoot this morning. It caught my attention … We knew he was going to be a great leader today, and I thought that it was.”

Cody Zeller

On his improved play in the second half

“I missed a couple of easy layups and a dunk in the first half. Nothing really changed, I just wanted to be aggressive.”

Victor Oladipo

On his putback

“We were emphasizing weakside rebounding a lot in the past weeks,” Oladipo said. “Rebounding is one of my strengths. I just saw Cody shooting it, and I saw how it was coming off the rim, and I was just in the right place at the right time.”

Will Sheehey

On dealing with “Sheehey Sucks” chants

“If that’s what they want to do, whatever. … I like to be the most hated player on our team. Sure, I’ll take that.”

On shooting against the zone

“Our freshman point guard Yogi did a fantastic job of finding me and other guys. Jordan, even though he didn’t shoot it very well, did some other thigns very effective. I missed some shots that I usually make and I made some bonehead plays tonight, but I still think we rallied together.”

On Jordan Hulls shaking off a rough night

“Shooters shoot. There’s games when I don’t shoot well, and all you guys blast me and say I suck. There’s no question, we all know how it works. Everyone else, and it’s cool Shooters keep shooting. We have that mentality that the next one’s going in. Jordan missed, he went 0-for-10 tonight, and he’ll go 10-for-10 the next time.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller and Will Sheehey


  1. Ugly win, IU still seems a little lacking in toughness- but they won and good teams win in spite of playing less than their best. One game at a time and plenty to work on going forward.

    If you told before hand Jordy goes 0-10, IU shoots 40% FG & shoot fewer FT’s then the Hawks there is no way I expect a win.

  2. Ugly-schmugly, and escape-schmascape. A Big !0 road win against an 11-2 opponent that seems to have had our number more times than not in the last decade is a very good thing and nothing to embarrassed about. I am impressed that IU held on after Iowa started to shred our defense time and time again in the second half with agressive drives to the hoop. I thought we were done at that point.

  3. No no, it was EXTREMELY ugly, not only ugly to watch, but an ugly performance by IU, & poorly played . We were lucky to win that game, there was a lid on the Iowa basket, otherwise we wouldn’t have won the game. WAAAAY too much standing around, on both ends of the court. We missed aome shots too-Hulls did at least, but Iowa had open 3’s for days & they made what? 3? How many layups did they miss? We won’t win playing like this consistently. I’m bothered by our play today, frankly.

  4. I thought the outcome was about right. Neither team played particularly well. Both teams looked ugly for long stretches. At the very least no team shot well. Our team was just a little bit better as a whole, So to say we only won because of Iowa’s poor shooting does not tell the whole story. How many open looks and FTs did we miss that, had we converted like we usually do, would’ve turned this into a much more lopsided victory? Be glad we won. We’re a relatively untested team that just played it’s first true road game against a tough team. Lets just hope we continue to learn from these early games encore the schedule gets much more brutal.

  5. It was a frustrating game to watch, but still exciting. It is a Big Ten Game! I didn’t understand why Crean went with and stayed with the zone like he did, as Iowa was eating it up. Also didn’t understand Crean’s call to play Jordy when he was having a horrible night and then have Yogi on the bench when he was playing very well. All-in-all a great win on the road and this should be a good confidence builder for the rest of the season. I was worried about this game going in. Iowa has had our number for quite a while, since the Recker years…….

  6. I understand the rumblings about the zone. It was not necessary and proved mostly counterproductive. But the amount of comments I’ve seen about CTC’s inability to coach as a result is outrageous. Name more than a handful of anecdotal instances where we were out-coached. There were bad coaching decisions today, just like All-Americans make bad plays. I would be more worried if he’d sat Hulls. Who needs a great shooter having an off night worried that he’s lost his coach’s confidence?

  7. Chris K- later this year, when Iowa knocks off one of the big boys at home (Michigan, OSU, Illinois – you pick), you’ll gain some perspective about our win last night.

  8. I definitely wasn’t trying to second guess Crean’s coaching. He has done a fantastic job. Hind sight is always 20/20; that’s why we have blogs! I love to watch this team and I am very proud of them. They have so much potential, I just want them to reach it.

  9. RedX… Well, I questioned Crean last night plenty, but not his playing of Jordy. Jordy was NOT having a horrible night! He had a bad shooting night… That’s it. If you take the rest of his floor game he was the most efficient player on the court. He led the team in steals and assists and had ZERO turnovers. He also contributed on the defensive boards.

    If you apply the “Pick to Click” formula and exclude points, he had the best score on the team… And he did that playing about 5-10 minutes fewer than the other starters.

  10. Geoff,
    Agreed. I don’t know what game some people saw but, outside of a horrendous shooting night, Jordy was the steadiest player on the floor. Zero turnovers, solid D, good facilitating. Solid game. He was extremely disruptive on defense leading to several tie ups and a number of bad passes.

    I thought it was pretty clear why he was on the floor.

  11. Bill Brasky-when we get blown out by the big boys later this year, you’ll gain some perspective about our win last night.

  12. Simply put, the Big10 will produce numerous scenarios of losses & wins for several top tier teams & bottom tier teams. In case most have been blind to Big10 action the past decade, this always happens. If anyone were to go back n look at the “76” team, we had a few ugly wins there also. Winning at Iowa for any Big10 team is tough, this game is over & we move on.

  13. Larry-

    That’s another good post. I like your style and perspectives. When has winning on the road in the BIG ever been easy..even for some of our most storied teams of the past? @ Minny will be a war.

  14. My point was that Yogi should of been on the floor as he was more productive as a whole last night. Hulls – 6 assists, 3 rebounds, 0 points (0 for 10). Ferrell – 4 assists, 7 rebounds, and 9 points (4 for 8). Iowa could not stay with Yogi, plus he plays better defense than Hulls. I was probably having flashbacks to the Butler game…….

  15. Gee, Hulls career shooting is over 50% including from 3 pt range. Amazing how everyone is dumping on a 4 yr career of shooting 50%+ and having a bad game. As anyone would think before having the ability of hindsight that at anytime he’s going to hit his next shot, the ODDS were in his favor considering his 4 yr career. I do believe there were a cpl of OT’s that “76” year. Fortunately for this team we have one player can have a bad game, even 2 & there are other quality players that take up the slack. This is still a top 5 team!!

  16. RedX – I guess I’m missing your point, because Yogi WAS on the floor… He played 32 minutes. I just trust Hulls more late in games because of experience and steadiness, so no matter how the first 35 minutes of any game goes, if I can only have one of them on the floor for the last 5 it will always be Hulls (55 assists, 16 TO’s).

    Yogi has 2 of the worst turnovers of the season late in games… The one where the ball bounced off his leg against Butler and the terrible inbounds pass to Zeller yesterday.

    Yogi is a very capable freshman, but he still has some schooling to do and trust to earn.

  17. Love Hulls..but if we have Yogi against UK in the Sweet 16 game last season, we are going forward and hanging the 6th banner.

    I have plenty of confidence in Yogi late in a close game(especially by the end of the season when he’ll have the grind of a Big 10 schedule under his belt). The few freshman mistakes he’s now making will grow exceedingly insignificant compared to the ease he can handle ball pressure and create havoc with his ability to get into the lane. He takes a ton of weight off Hulls’ shoulders to be “the man” and he provides Hulls exponentially more opportunity to be a scoring threat in relieving some of that potential criticism/pressure that follows Hulls into every contest(brought on by years of unfair, less than objective, microscope examination, every minor weakness, a national scrutiny when he didn’t have a strong talent aside him in the backcourt).

  18. Doubt it… UK was very good in the tourney and in that game in particular. I don’t think they would have allowed Yogi to defend FT shooters. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe you’re wrong.

    The weight he takes off of Hulls shoulders is during the first 35 minutes. It is the fact that teams don’t gameplan to press and trap Hulls. It is in allowing IU the benefit of having 2 ball-handlers on the floor and 2 playmaking passers in the half court. It is in getting the Hoosiers easy transition buckets…

    It isn’t the last 5 minutes of games. I’m not saying I don’t want Yogi in. I’m just saying I trust Hulls more, and if I HAD to choose only one down the stretch it would be Jordy all year.

  19. Me too. As you said, though, the biggest factor is that we are putting two quality point guards on the floor at the same time. For a shooting guard Jordy is just a sick passer, including in the Iowa game.

    It’s synergy. They each make the other better than either would be in isolation.

    We have all been giddy about the quality of talent that CTC has been able to bring in but some folks have the absurd idea that all we need to do is roll the ball onto the floor and stand back. Nothing could be farther from the truth. It’s a lot harder to coordinate 10 players who are all good enough to start than it is to bring together 5 obvious starters and 5 obvious reserves.

    Just remember how much the Hoosiers improved last year from the end of January until the tourney.

    It’s all good. We won the game. Who would have thought two years ago people would be whining and crying after a conference win on the road?

  20. Yogi ain’t your typical freshman. I take Yogi bringing the ball up against VCU pressure in the final minutes of a tight game.

    It took a very underrated freshman from last season to bail us out against VCU…Remy came up big like I always knew he would..That doesn’t mean I’m not confident that Yogi is also far from the typical skittish freshman and likely even a bit craftier cutting through that VCU press.

    I’m also more than confident he would have helped control the pace against Kentucky and provided a much better match up with their speedy backcourt. I think circumstances, style of opponents game, press vs. non-press, and the overall speed/athleticism in the backcourt match-ups you’re going up against plays more into decisions which guard I want handling the ball in critical stretches(including the final possessions of a tight game).

    Like I said…love Hulls, but VCU was eating him alive. We were extremely fortunate to survive and live to fight another day. Yogi puts my mind much more at ease that a similar pressing defense will not be the reason for our demise.

    Dakich stated the same during the Iowa game…Ferrell is not your typical freshman….Unbelievable court vision, poise, and leadership qualities. He looked just as calm and confident in Carver-Hawkeye as he does in the friendly surroundings of McCracken.

  21. This is my first post on this blog. I have been following it for about a year. I enjoy the insights but am often disappointed when the discussion degenerates into mean-spirited name calling, whether directed toward fellow bloggers or IU’s players. I post now only to say that I enjoyed the discussion above because it is informative and refreshingly devoid of insult. I am especially glad to see the absence of Zeller bashing.

  22. Welcome, satxhoosier…Welcome to the ‘Mommas Never Hugged Us Club.’

  23. Iowa’s Devyn Marble on IU after yesterday’s game: “This is a team we know we can beat.”

    well why in the hell didn’t they on their own home court….he’s a wuss….

  24. In the Big Ten, if you didn’t win at home you probably aren’t gonna win. They got really lucky. Jordy goes 0-10 and they were open shots. They won the lottery and still came up short. They’ll be lucky to keep the margin within 15 next time we see them.

  25. I bet this is on the board when we prepare for Iowa on March 2:

    “This is a team we know we can beat.” – Devyn Marble

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