Indiana holds on despite miserable second-half to beat Minnesota, 88-81

WHAT HAPPENED: Indiana almost blew a 52-29 advantage gained in a spectacular first-half, but got a key offensive rebound from senior guard Jordan Hulls and four free throws fHulls and Christian Watford in the last 15 seconds to claim an 88-81 win over No. 8 Minnesota in front of 17,472 at Assembly Hall.

The Hoosiers went on an 18-2 run midway through the first half and outscored Minnesota 36-14 in the last 11 minutes of the first half to take that 52-29 advantage. However, Minnesota opened the second half with a 14-4 run and stayed within striking distance the rest of the second half. The Golden Gophers cut the deficit to eight points with 1;49 left and then three with 19 seconds to go when sophomore guard Andre Hollins hit two of three free throw shots. Hulls missed three straight free throws, but sophomore center Cody Zeller kept Minnesota senior forward Trevor Mbakwe from getting the the rebound on his third miss, poking the ball out of his hands. Hulls grabbed the rebound and hit two free throws that essentially sealed Minnesota’s fate.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: The Hoosiers only got three points from their bench, but all five of their starters played close to their highest possible level in the first half.

Junior guard Victor Oladipo committed three costly fouls on 3-point shots, but he was also ferocious on defense in the first half. He finished with three steals, caused several more turnovers and scored 20 points on 8-for-10 shooting with six rebounds and two assists.

Hulls was devastated with his key missed free throws, but he also hit the clinchers and scored 19 points, knocking down four first-half 3-pointers including at least two that were from NBA range. Minnesota’s Austin Hollins was defending him extremely closely, so Hulls decided his best bet was just to shoot from beyond the defense.

Zeller went toe-to-toe with Mbakwe, one of the Big Ten’s most physically imposing players, and outscored him with 18 points on 6-for-8 shooting. He also grabbed six rebounds and had three blocks, two steals and two assists.

Senior forward Christian Watford had perhaps his best defensive game of the season, tangling with both Mbakwe and Minnesota senior forward Rodney Williams and, in most cases, getting the best of hit. He finished with 15 points and nine rebounds, though he did have three steals and struggled inbounding the ball against the Minnesota press late in the game.

Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell also had one of his best outings, scoring 13 points and posting eight assists in 37 minutes.

Minnesota sophomore guard Andre Hollins kept the Golden Gophers in the game with 25 points and four steals and three assists, but he also had five turnovers. Mbakwe had 13 points and 10 rebounds. Austin Hollins also scored 13 and Williams and Joe Coleman had 11 points each.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Indiana’s first half was essentially a prototype for everything the Hoosiers want to do.

It started on defense, and the Hoosiers were able to create havoc in both man-to-man and a 2-3 zone, causing a surprising amount of turnovers in the latter. Minnesota gave the ball away 12 times in the first half, and Indiana scored 19 points on those. The Hoosiers got scoring from everywhere, hitting on seven of 11 3-pointers, scoring 36 points in the paint and 14 on fast breaks. Zeller didn’t get a ton of post touches, but he scored when he did. Oladipo and Ferrell were slicing up the defense on drives. Hulls was aggressive in finding his shot and Watford scored inside and outside.

The second half, however, was mostly a mess. The Hoosiers turned the ball over 11 times with just one assist after posting 13 assists against just four turnovers in the first half. The Minnesota full-court press caused the Hoosiers a number of problems, as they struggled to get open for the inbound pass and to stay out of traps once the ball got in. IU coach Tom Crean took responsibility, saying he should have had the Hoosiers doing more screening.

Indiana did well in the zone for most of the first half and rebounded out of it well also, but with the Golden Gophers jacking 3’s to try to get back in the game, the zone gave them more clean looks even though they were usually deep, which helped them get back in the game especially late. Fortunately for Indiana, they had built a big enough first half lead to not lose it all.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: The concerns raised by the second half were very real, and after a turnover-ridden second-half against Penn State, the giveaways are magnified even more. The fact that the Hoosiers have twice in a row failed to put together two good halves shows a problematic vulnerability.

Still, the brilliant first-half makes this win a statement victory for Indiana. No. 1 Duke and No. 4 Arizona have already lost, which means the Hoosiers will likely step up to at least No. 3. It’s the Hoosiers first win over a Top 10 opponent this season. It indicates to many that their ranking is legitimate and not just a product of high preseason expectations, and it also suggests that the Hoosiers and Michigan are the Big Ten’s top teams.


IU coach Tom Crean

“The difference now is a year ago, we would’ve been ecstatic with that victory. I want them to enjoy it, but we have different expectations now.”

“The game went two ways, but both teams played extremely hard for 40 minutes. That never went away. We knew they weren’t going to go away in the second half. We continued to play extremely hard in the second half after getting off to a great lead. We didn’t always play as efficient as we needed to. We weren’t always on the attack like we needed to be. But when you outrebound a team like Minnesota and the way that they’re rebounding, you continue to go hard, and you continue to answer when they have an answer for what you’re doing, it’s a big win.”

On the Press

“We didn’t attack it correctly,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “We just didn’t. We got caught up a little bit in getting it down the court rather than how we were going to get it down the court. … I just think we didn’t do a great job with our spacing. We didn’t do a great job with the inbounds. I’ll blame myself for not having enough screening, because they were very physical.”

Jordan Hulls

On the rebound

“It wasn’t any of my doing. It was Cody. Cody got into the lane and he was able to tip it out. I was just, I guess, mad enough to go get it.”

On the first half

“I’d say we did a really good job of moving the ball. Our defense, though, is what really got us going. Victor did a great job on the ball getting steals, getting fast breaks and just doing different things on the defensive end that led to our offense. That’s what we wanted to come in and do, and that’s what we have to do to keep on winning.”

On the second half

“We just gotta do a better job of playing a full 40 minute game,” Hulls said. “… The second half, we can’t accept that. We know we have to play a lot better.”

Yogi Ferrell

On the second half

“We just have to continue to have that same energy. As you see, we really didn’t at all. We got complacent.”

On the Press

“They did a great job pressing, but I thought it was more on us. … Those turnovers are on our part. We weren’t looking inside enough as much as we needed to and lost that edge that we had. They did a great job of pushing us to the corners and pretty much trapping. We just have to do a better job of just taking care of the ball and not letting them come to us and just attack them.”

Victor Oladipo

On his fouls

That’s just me being undisciplined. As a leader on defense, I cannot make mistakes. To be honest, I feel like I almost blew the game away.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Cody Zeller

AUDIO: Yogi Ferrell


  1. What a great 1st half? But how do you come out complacent in the 2nd half? IU players had to know they had a tiger by the tail, wouldn’t you think? While I like the win I am a bit disturbed that our seniors cannot get that message across to the other players that it takes two halves of solid effort if they want to prove something. CTC frequently mentions that this team is on a mission, that they have something to prove. What they’ll prove is that they are a one half team that will fold if pressured. This team has too much talent to let that happen. Please fellas, let’s string together two great halves of basketball. I will say that the 1st half is about as well as I have seen this group play. Let’s keep up the good work but play TWO HALVES!! Go IU!!!

  2. Tom Crean only has a mid-season coaching award. He only can handle one half of this responsibility be it half a season or half a game. The rest is a series of fakely religious weets.

    On an unrelated note it feels so good to see the Seagawks bite the dust!

  3. The ‘Hawks gave ’em hell that last quarter, but then scored too quickly when they got the ball at the one with 35 seconds left. They overcame some dufusy Pete Carroll blunders and almost sent Atlanta to another playoff heartbreak.

    Better luck next year to my boys. Made me proud.

    Now, I can concentrate my full attention on my man TWT – Twenty-Win Tom and the Hoo Hoo Hoosiers. Soon we’ll be calling him Title-Winning Tom.

  4. Well, apparently Thad Matta is just as bad a coach as CTC. OSU blew a 21 point lead and actually let Michigan come back to tie the game.

    All these bad coaches in the Big Ten. Go figure.

  5. TWT (Tweeting-Wonka Tom) is already a fan favorite.

    Matta and Crean share one thing: zero banners each.

  6. Too much playing time for starters.those missed free throws by Watford and Hulls are almost certainly because of exhaustion.We played fabulously in the first half,but the adrenaline rush and extra minutes by starters left us out of gas.If they are going to play THAT hard,they need more rest.The bench not showing up was costly.

  7. Wow…Ferrell, Sheehey, Abel, and Hollowell go a combined 1-7 from the 3-pt. line.

    This was exactly the type of game that a timely bomb from Roth coming off the bench could have provide the perfect demoralizing, back-breaker to the psyche of a Minny team fighting their hearts out to get the score back to a manageable defect. When Hulls had his slight cooling off spell, there could have come Roth firing his cannon to give them more hell.

    There’s a psychological effect on your opponent when you have a dorky looking kid that can bang things in from the Twilight Zone with a carefree aloofness attached to the uncanny ability. Roth could provide back-breakers and psychological damage…dishearten a team with a couple his perfectly timed cannon shots right at the best moment an opponent that has scratched and clawed its way back from a deficit. You can’t put a value on the mental anguish of a Roth bomb into a stat column. It’s only 3 points…but when he’s shaking hands with Crean while it’s in the air, decides to tighten up a loose shoelace, turns to begin a casual stride with his back turned to the hoop as the guide missile finally shreds the nets, it has a lingering demoralizing effect on more than Newton’s law..The defying of gravity adds a bit more gravity to the opponent’s already less-than-stable nerve.

    What do we have currently coming off the bench that can provide that sort of punch in the gut. Do we have anyone that drastically change the complexion of the game as quickly as two or three timely bombs from Matt Roth?

    1-7 for Ferrell, Sheehey, Abel, and Hollowell. Roth would go 3-7 blindfolded. Oladipo makes some out-of-character mental errors in fouling 3-point shooters on Minny. It happens..But what a wonderful instant eraser to boneheaded plays on defense when you march right down court on the next possession, find Roth out in the Assembly Hall parking lot calling for the ball and burying the dagger to immediately change the momentum back to a positive vibe for the Hoosiers.

    We will continue to miss the impact of all those potential daggers from Roth as we watch Perea, Jurkin, Etherington, Creek, Howard, and Marlin take up six inconsequential chairs. Big question marks and a redshirt walk-on given favored status over pure, unadulterated, experienced scoring punch by way of multiples of three that could have been available in just one of those six chairs.

    I just don’t understand it. The second best 3-point threat in the nation left at home. Never will understand it.

  8. hiensohn,

    There may be some validity to the bench(particularly Will)not producing results as in past games or as needed for this game but they were given abundant opportunity as the only starter to playing near a full dance card was Ferrell with 37 minutes. Olie and CZ played 30 and 32 minutes respectively. The exhausted players you focused on, JH and CW played 29 and 32 minutes. No doubt adrenaline was involved. But if they can’t handle the load they have all carried in the past we are in severe trouble anyway making the subject of playing minutes mute.

  9. Will Sheehy has been explosive off the bench in almost every game all season. So, he didn’t light up the gym when he came in on Saturday. So what?

    Harvard, your post implies that Roth had more impact on a game than Will does. Can you possibly be serious? Matt hit some nice long threes while the coaches desperately hoped for a dead ball to get him out of the game.

    You would actually prefer Matt Roth on the floor over Will Sheehy?

    Matt’s gone. He left a long time ago. Jay Edwards isn’t coming back, either.

  10. Man Harvard, you need to let go on this Roth thing you got going. Forgive me for this but; Roth in

    08/09 season totaled 651 min and was 57-153 on 3’s. .373%

    10/11 season totaled 230 min and was 27/72 on 3’s. .375%

    11/12 season totaled 400 min and was 42/77 on 3’s .545%

    09/10 must have been an injury..? 11min and 0-1. Couple of games last year he was 4 of 5 and 5 of 6, but most were in the ball park of 1/2, 2/5 and 3/5.

    I do remember watching one game where IU was way behind and Roth came in and hit 3 straigt shots but that seems to be a exception. Given the choice of scholarship for this yr or one of the new guys I would think Crean made an appropriate choice for the long run.

    I see your point about demoralizing quick 3’s but overall impact of his graduation – minimal?

  11. Establishment blockage.

    2011-12 (SENIOR)

    BIG TEN RANKINGS (ALL): 3FG%: 1st (.545)
    BIG TEN RANKINGS (B1G): 3FG%: 1st (.592)

    Knee injury in 2010-11…Massive foot injury going into his sophomore year.

    Last year was his first full season healthy. I think the above numbers(not to mention, he was 2nd in the entire nation)speak for themselves. He shot a higher percentage than Hulls..And even as great a marksman as Hulls has his night when the numbers don’t represent the impact he usually brings…I believe Jordy recently went 1-10 in one game. I believe it was pointed out rather extensively on this very blog.

    And keep in mind, Roth’s range..Roth was often shooting the ball from a distance no other Hoosier is capable. Roth put up those +.500 numbers from “I dare you” range. He could provide the threat far enough to pull defenses 3 ft. beyond any other serious deep threat on our team. It’s not just percentages, it’s range…And with that range came a huge demoralizing effect that could cause immense frustration on a team doing everything else right shutting down our perimeter threats.

  12. Geoff, it looks like it did ‘except’ it. All others submitted were accepted, except this one.

  13. Thanks guys…

    I read Chet’s and was about to make Tsao’s comment, then of course Tsao beat me to the punch.

    The pipeline is open… It just doesn’t like that post for some reason. Apparently I’m not allowed to disagree with Harvey any more.

  14. Let’s see if it works this time… Much shorter version…

    Remy – 57%
    Will – 37%
    Mo – 35%

    Combined 32 made 3’s despite Mo being hurt and missing a few games now.

    That’s a decent compliment of deep threats off the bench, plus I’m sure Crean was counting on having Austin in a pinch.

    Fingers crossed…

  15. And thank goodness Oladipo wasn’t fouling 3-point shooters on Minny that possessed Roth’s efficiency from the line…Matt only missed none from the line all season long.


    Totals: 31-104 .298 = the combined 3-pt shooting percentages of Sheehey, Ferrell, Hollowell, Creek, and Etherington respectively. Ugh….and Uuuuuugly.

    And what has Remy done? Yes, without Remy’s 12-21(.57), the numbers are just completely atrocious. Thank goodness Harvey pushed so hard for Remy..Thank goodness Crean listened and offered that kid at the very last moment. But even with Remy saving our ass in many games last season and the fact he came out of the gate on fire from the perimeter at the beginning of this year’s campaign, it appears the disruptions that can come with deeper rotations and a coach that must attempt to show his A-Hope projects can pull down an occasional rebound, Remy may begin to lose that edge that comes from being cast into a more vital role.

    I think Remy loved being thrown into the fire last season…Now he’s just being used in situations he likely feels are lukewarm water. Remy hits a three and Crean pulls him to let Perea in for five minutes to prove he can pull down one rebound and chew gum.

    With the playing time Elston has missed, I highly doubt he’ll regain his dangerous perimeter stroke of last season.

    Roth was such an easy insurance policy. No three fingers to the temple for his almost 60% accuracy during Big 10 play. Daggers in waiting that rarely needed big hunks of time on the floor to feel it and drill it.

  16. Only 112 views on this particular YouTube cut…But did this girl not have the pipes? Heard this song on the radio last night while driving back home from Chicago…I had completely forgotten this tune.

    Just felt like sharing. Now we just manufacture the stars on American Idol..This gal didn’t even start singing solo until after college…Taylor Dayne had the vocals to blow away anything I hear today.

  17. Was gonna say something about going to Chicago and coming back with weird big-city music. But that good. Real good (as Crean would say about Subway)

    Not big into music but I liked the voice of that woman who OD’d in England awhile back…? Name….?

  18. Harvard…you came to Chicago and didn’t let me know you were coming??!! H-A-R-V-A-R-D!!!!! The first six bottles of good wine would have been on me. Shocked! Hurt!

    What if you had been kidnapped by the Latin Maniac Disciples…who would have arranged for your ransom?

  19. TTG. May I go off-topic for a moment? I have no idea of what your literary taste may be and I would not suggest this if your son was not safely back in the U.S.. I
    recently finished a book, “The Outpost” by Jake Tapper.

    Very provocative view of the Afganistan conflict. One of the chapters details the loss of a young man from my small community.

  20. Thanks Ron. My son mentioned the very book last night and I will be reading it soon. (I guess the author was on 60 minutes). I sort of have to slowly work my way into that literature (when I do, I can’t put it down and get it read in 3-4 nights). Of my son’s deployments (Baghdad, Sadr City neighborhood…) Afghanistan was the one that had me puckered up the entire 14 months. He commanded a battalion in the 82nd Airborne that had Zabul province (he’d joke they were setting up a toll booth on Highway 1 for Taliban infiltrators), and after cleaning that up, were deployed into Kandahar and the Arghandab River valley approach through Nov. 2011. Some scary stuff because it was so, so strange. Sad about the soldier from your community. We lost a great friend, a captain- one of the company commanders in his battalion, and remember and miss him every day.

    All of them, absolutely each and every one of them who served, were absolutely great, irreplaceable individuals. I’ve told my son that each of us should learn the name of one, just one of them… and remember the name every day, forever.

    Thanks for your thought Ron. I’ll pass it on.

  21. Ron, sorry- to clarify… ” I’ve told my son that each of us should learn the name of one, just one of them… and remember the name every day, forever.” Meant, each and every one of us (us, in this USA)…

  22. One day, Tsao..One day we shall drink and care not this mythical world we’ve built around our stage names.

    We’ll do a Bears game….Pizza. Take in a play.

    You’ve been a great friend. You give me hope when I don’t deserve your encouragement and honesty.

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