It wasn't exactly the prettiest offensive game ever played, but Indiana walked into Assembly Hall to take on the highest scoring team in the nation to date and held them to half of their average. A lot of it came on a very big defensive effort by the Hooisers and some of it came from just neither team being able to hit the broad side of a barn. I'm not sure how it is possible for two teams consisting mostly of Indiana kids can't shoot better than either squad did last night. I'm frankly embarrassed for my home state.
Despite the poor shooting efforts from both squads there were some bright spots for Indiana. Jeremy Hollowell started out on the bench and instead had walk-on Jeff Howard starting in his place. I would like to think that message was received loud and clear by the sophomore forward. Once Hollowell got onto the court, he was a different player than what we've seen over the last 6 games. He was much more in control, made a lot of very good decisions and seemed to have a good idea of when to abandon a thought. He ended the night with only one turnover, but 18 points. He used his size and athleticism to get to the bucket and draw fouls against an Evansville team that didn't really have a defensive answer for him. One would really hope that this is the beginning of him coming out of his early season slump.
Vonleh was also back to his normal self after only playing 10 minutes against UConn with foul trouble. He continued to make very freshman like mistakes as he picked up 3 separate offensive fouls last night. His decision making in that aspect has to improve, but the fouls are mostly coming from him being aggressive, so sometimes with the young guys you just have to take the bad with the good. Zeller was never one to be over aggressive, so it is kind of nice seeing a post player battling through double teams to prove he's better than you. He finished the night with his 5th double-double of the season with 13 points and 12 rebounds. After a one game lapse, he is now back up to the conference lead in rebounds per game.
Will Sheehey also had a very good if not quiet night. He only walked away with 6 points, but he was doing a great job of letting the game come to him and working with what the defense allowed. A strong 5 rebounds with 4 coming on the defensive end started a couple fast breaks to put the Hoosiers into mop up territory. Hanner Mosquera-Perea was also in that category of quiet stat sheet but good night of basketball. 7 rebounds and 5 points in 10 minutes is something we'll take every night. He's still got to work on those hands of his and quit being so concerned with trying to draw the foul, but again, that will come with time and experience.
Defensively, the Hoosiers length was just no match for the Aces. DJ Balentine came into the game averaging nearly 30 points a game and walked away with 14. The Hoosiers harassed him all night and did a good job of denying him the ball. Have to give some love for Tom Crean's game plan on this one. As soon as Balentine gave up the ball it was deny, deny, deny. If Balentine passed, more often than not he didn't touch the ball again for that possession. Yogi was the main culprit for keeping the ball out of his hands and when he did have it there was never an easy shot. As evident by Balentine's 5-17 shooting on the evening.
Overall a really good defensive game. The best scoring team in the nation was held to 46 points and about .64 points per possession. That's good against anyone but more impressive when Evansville is as good at getting the ball in the basket. Indiana is now up to 27th in Pomeroy and 11th overall defensively. The offense is going to need to improve quite a bit though, if they want to push any higher than that this year. We'll see what they can do against Syracuse in a week. We've got a ton of time to prepare, but it will be Indiana first true road game of the season. Expect it to be hostile.