Indiana 79, New Mexico State 66: Hoosiers win NCAA Tournament game for first time since 2007.

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 15: Cody Zeller #40 of the Indiana Hoosiers dunks the ball in the first half against the New Mexico State Aggies in the second round of the 2012 NCAA men's basketball tournament at Rose Garden Arena on March 15, 2012 in Portland, Oregon. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Indiana marked its return to the NCAA Tournament with one of its best offensive performances of the season, and never trailed against New Mexico State, winning 79-66. Indiana's offensive efficiency of 1.23 points per possession was the eight best of the season and IU's effective field goal percentage of 65.7 was the third best of the season. Much as in the Michigan State win of a couple of weeks ago, IU neutralized NMSU's typical advantage on the boards (IU had an offensive rebound percentage of 30 compared to 33 for NMSU) and outplayed the Aggies in every other aspect. The biggest red flag was NMSU's 55 percent shooting, but IU shot 59 percent from the field, and forced the Aggies into 17 turnovers (26.7 percent) to IU's 12 (18.8 percent). The Hoosiers excelled from behind the arc, shooting 7-13 from deep, thanks mostly to 4-6 from Jordan Hulls. Both teams were 8-10 from the line.

The starters carried IU offensively:

  • Hulls scored a game-high 22 points on 8-12 from the field, including the aforementioned three point shooting. He scored 19 in the second half and missed only one shot during the half.
  • Christian Watford scored 14 on 6-11 shooting and 2-2 from three point range.
  • Cody Zeller also added 14 and led the team with 4 assists and 6 steals. He struggled early against NMSU's big interior players but managed to figure it out as the game transpired.
  • Will Sheehey had a quiet 14 on 7-11 shooting.
In the absence of Verdell Jones III, IU didn't dig very deep into the bench. Remy Abell, Derek Elston, Matt Roth, and Tom Pritchard combined for 40 minutes and 9 points. That probably will have to change against Virginia Commonwealth.

All that said, it's past the point in this season where it is terribly worthwhile to worry about stats. In the first NCAA Tournament game for all of the members of this team, IU led wire to wire and won comfortably in a game that was a popular upset pick. It was IU's first NCAA Tournament win of any sort since a first round win over Gonzaga in 2007 (also a 13-point win). There were only two upsets in the first round of the Tournament, and IU is the beneficiary of one of them. Technically. IU faces 12 seed Virginia Commonwealth tomorrow night at 7:10 p.m. VCU upset Wichita State in a 12-5 game, but obviously the Rams are one of the most seasoned teams in the Tournament and controlled most of the game against the Shockers. More on tomorrow's game shortly.
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