Indiana-80 Notre Dame-73
Indiana University was finally able to notch a meaningful non-conference win on Saturday at the Crossroads Classic. After missed opportunities in Hawaii and Durham, North Carolina the Hoosiers were finally able to get that marquee non conference victory. The final score doesn’t not indicate the story of the game.
The Hoosiers started the game playing their very typical game, lots of scoring and some lazy defense. Late in the first half they went on a streak of turnovers that lead to Notre Dame building a sizable lead (41-31) going into halftime.
Thomas Bryant picked up 2 early fouls but he dominated in the 3 mins he was in the game. His one foul was on a nice Zach Auguste move down low. The second foul was Bryant hedging a screen and overextending to draw contact and a foul. Tom Crean trusted his young freshman and put him back into the game with 8 mins left in the half. Bryant responded but finishing a number of post moves and even drawing a couple fouls from senior center Zach Auguste. Although the Hoosiers looked ugly at times to end the first half there was a glimmer of hope with Bryant’s play. Hoosier nation knew that if the Indiana guards could find a way to get Bryant the ball then we could be very successful and potentially win the game.
The second half started the a lot of the same with ugly turnovers from the Hoosiers and easy buckets for the Irish. Thomas Bryant went on a terror. After he was called for 2 fouls early he responded and played aggressive defense without being called for another foul. Bryant’s line was not as impressive as some of the other Hoosiers but he still tallied 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 assists.
The one player who started the second quickly was Troy Williams. He had 7 points before the first media timeout at 15:56 but his efforts did show on the scoreboard as the Notre Dame increased their lead to 14. The Indiana fans who made the trip were loving the play by Troy Williams but everyone knew that the Hoosiers would need a couple of stops on defense in order to cut into the lead. Notre Dame had grown its lead to 16 at one point during the first 8 mins of the second half.
Tom Crean called a timeout with 12:38 left to try and settle his guys down. Right out of the timeout the team responded by getting 2 easy buckets including a nice move by Thomas Bryant and 2 stops. This was the turning point in the game. The team switched to a 2-3 zone and forced the Notre Dame shooters to make jump shots. Usually this tactic would be unsuccessful with a team like Notre Dame but Steve Vasturia and Demetrius Jackson were as cold as the air in downtown Indianapolis the entire day.
During those final 7.5 minutes Indiana played like the team that we have hoped to see since the start of the year. They made adjustments on defense to take away Bonzie Colson’s floater in the middle of the zone and they were able to run the floor and find shooters in transition. When the pace was slower they were able to get it to Thomas Bryant down low and he was able to draw multiple fouls on Zach Auguste which led to Auguste fouling out with 2 minutes left. This was the Indiana team that we have been longing to see. They played good not great defensive and were fantastic on offense. All of the adjustments made by the coaches and players really paid off. The game was over in the last minute when Indiana got a big stop and knocked down some free throws. When Indiana took the lead they never gave it back.
This game tells us a lot about Indiana. They were extremely persistent and had mental toughness to win this game. Indiana looked horrible in the first half and even received some boos from fans at one point. Robert Johnson was the unsung hero in this game scoring 13 points in the first half to keep Indiana in the game. Without his contributions the game could have been out of reach. Troy Williams looked like the All Big-10 player that we anticipated going into the season. He finished with 18 points and 10 rebounds to go with 2 assists and 3 steals. Half of his rebound total was on the offensive end at all. Williams seem to carry the offense in the second half while Johnson carried in the first half.
The match-up of Yogi Ferrell and Demetrius Jackson was a disappointment. Jackson went for 9 points and Ferrell went for 8 points. Ferrell was able to recover from his rough shooting day with a big 3-pointer to tie the game late in the second half. Demetrius Jackson did total 6 assists and 7 rebounds on the day so his contributions were in other facets of the game. Once Ferrell understood his shots would not be falling he started driving into the paint and drew a crucial foul on Zach Auguste that was his 4th and he later fouled out.
I hope Ferrell can recognize the game a little bit better in the future. If he is having a hard time scoring he will need to look to drive and draw fouls and look to assist teammates. He finished with 2 assists and 5 turnovers. He is the quickest guy on the court most of the time and should be able to use that quickness and his experience to attack the basketball and draw contact against the teams big. IU will play multiple teams like Notre Dame who will have an advantage down low but Ferrell can and should drive the ball early and often to get some early fouls and slow up the big men.
The one area that Indiana lacked in during their big run in the second half was defensive rebounding. Now that I look back at the game log IU gave up 4 offensive rebounds in a 5 possession stretch. This is something IU will need to improve on. Indiana want to play fast and get into transition but the Hoosiers need to keep men in the paint to secure the rebound. Other teams (Duke) can and will make Indiana pay for the offensive rebounds.
Overall this was a huge victory for the Hoosiers. Even though the game was not pretty at times, Indiana showed some toughness and they played like a team with great chemistry for the final 8 minutes. Tom Crean has come under fire a lot this season but he pushed all the right buttons with his second half timeout and defensive switch. He even gave OG Anunoby some minutes and he responded with some hard nosed rebounds and great boxouts. Indiana will take on Kennesaw State in their final non-conference game before playing Rutgers to open up Big-1o play. Hopefully the Hoosiers can enjoy a little break from the grind of schoolwork and exams to build on those final 8 mins and build some consistency.