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Indiana 74, Pittsburgh 64: a closer look at the numbers.

Here are the official stats for IU's win over the Pittsburgh Panthers last night .  The Pomeroy game plan is available as well.  This was a 74 possession game.  What were the keys to victory?

  • Lack of offensive turnovers.  IU turned the ball over only 12 times for a percentage of 16.2.  This is IU's best turnover percentage in the Crean era against a major conference opponent, and it's only the fourth time that a Crean-led IU team has had a turnover percentage below 20 against a major conference program (IU did it twice against Iowa and once against Ohio State last season).  Five of IU's 9 second half turnovers occurred in the final six minutes of the game, after IU had extended the lead to as large as 17 points and Pitt had no choice but to be aggressive.  Obviously, this IU team needs to learn how to draw fouls rather than cough up the ball, but these guys haven't been in the position of defending a lead against a talented team.  In any event, that means IU had only 7 turnovers in the first 34 minutes of the game.  That's very good by any standard, and particularly by the standard of IU's last two seasons. 
  • Free throws. and shot 25-34 (73 percent) from the line. Pitt was only 12-17.  Coach Knight was quite complimentary of IU at halftime, and it's no wonder.  Knight always has talked about limiting turnovers and shooting more free throws than the opponent attempts as keys to victory.  At halftime, IU had only 3 turnovers and was 13-16 from the line.  Christian Watford was only 3-12 from the field but he scored 18 points thanks to 12-15 from the line.  A team that shoots free throws well, particularly a team that can rely on its big men to make free throws, can be dangerous.
  • Verdell Jones III.  Jones scored 20 points on 7-13 from the field and 6-8 from the line.  He attempted only one three pointer. 
  • Defense, defense, defense.  While Pitt rebounded 37 percent of its own misses, IU owned the Panthers' end of the court for the most part.  Pitt shot only 32 percent from the field and IU had 7 steals and 10 blocks.  
  • Other than Watford and Jones, who else stood out?

    • Devan Dumes.  His stat line doesn't say much, but he played 17 minutes and didn't force the offense.
    • Maurice Creek.  IU's leading scorer for the season finished with only 8 points last night, but he had 4 assists, 2 blocks, 2 steals, and only 1 turnover. 
    • Bobby Capobianco.  Capobianco played a career-high 19 minutes, and while he had looked a bit lost in some earlier appearances, he held up very well last night inside.  He finished with 7 points on 3-4 from the field and had four rebounds and a steal. 
    • Derek Elston.  Elston continues to make the most of his minutes.  He scored 9 points in 15 minutes on 4-8 from the field. 

    It's important that we not get too far ahead of ourselves.  This remains a young team, and I suspect that IU will win some games it should lose and lose some games it should win.  IU's next game is on Saturday against Kentucky, a formidable test.  Still, IU fans should enjoy last night's win for what it was, the best win in a long, long time.