Indiana 69, Iowa 65: Hoosiers survive first road game.

Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

This wasn't the Hoosiers' prettiest performance of the season, but they survived their first true road trip.

The Hoosiers were maddening in their inability to put the Iowa Hawkeyes away despite multiple opportunities to do so, but in the end Indiana held on to win the Big Ten opener 69-65, which also was IU's first true road game of the season. While some of IU's recent trips to Carver-Hawkeye Arena have played out in front of thousands of empty seats, this one was in front of a sellout crowd that was loud and into it. This was far from a perfect performance. The Hoosiers led by as many as nine in the first half and by eight at the break ans expanded the lead to 10 in the first five minutes of the second half. After that the Hawkeyes drew closer and things were fairly dicey for the rest of the way. The Hawkeyes pulled to within one, but never tied the game or took the lead in the second half. Cody Zeller finished with a game high 19 points on 7-12 shooting, but disappeared for long stretches, including for foul trouble. Still, it speaks well that people can be so hand-wringy about a double-double in a road game. Jordan Hulls was scoreless, shooting 0-10 overall and 0-4 from three point range. Still, in a game against a team that is likely going to be somewhere in the vicinity of the NCAA bubble, the Hoosiers held on and improved to 1-0 in the Big Ten.

IU held a comfortable edge on the boards, grabbing 34 percent of their offensive rebound opportunities and holding Iowa to 27 percent. This was, by far, IU's worst offensive performance of the season, at .92 points per possession. IU's worst before yesterday was 1.05 points per possession against Georgia. On the other hand, IU held the Hawkeyes to .86 points per possession. Only one defensive performance in conference play last season (at the Barn against Minnesota) was better. While IU's 4-14 shooting from three point range was subpar, Iowa, at 3-17, was even worse. Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble was only 1-14 from the field, so to some extent Hulls's poor shooting day was a wash.

Other individual performances of note:

  • Victor Oladipo continued to play extremely well. Oladipo had 14 points and 10 boards and shot 6-10 from the field. He was everywhere. It was obvious from the beginning of his career that Oladipo was going to be a fun player to watch, but I did not anticipate how much confidence he would inspire.
  • Will Sheehey was 5-11 for 13 points and added 5 boards in 24 minutes, while raising the ire of the Iowa fans for existing. We have our first villian in a while.
  • Hulls didn't score, but had 6 assists, 2 steals, and no turnovers.
  • Christian Watford was only 3-19 from the field, but finished with 11 points and 8 boards.
  • Jeremy Hollowell looked a bit rusty on offense but had a very nice block on defense.
  • Hanner Mosquera-Perea has a ways to go.
This was a frustrating game to watch, because it had the feel of the Butler game, last year's Nebraska game, and any number of games where IU seemed to have the opportunity to put an opponent away but didn't do it. On reflection, however, there's isn't much to justify complaint about yesterday. The Hoosiers, despite disappointing performances from key players, led for the last 27:44 and held on to beat an Iowa team that still appears to be an NCAA Tournament contender. Surviving the first true road game of the year is a big deal.

Now, while it hardly seems possible, IU once again has a week's layoff before next Monday's game at Penn State. Unfortunately, the Time Fraizer-less Nittany Lions may not provide much more resistance than some of IU's non-conference opponents. Regardless, the Hoosiers enter the new year 1-0 in the Big Ten and with a very friendly January conference schedule.
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