While it wasn't the prettiest or most comfortable performance of the season, IU survived a fantastic performance from Northwestern's Jon Shurna and held on for their 20th win of the season. IU now stands at 20-6 overall, 8-6 in the Big Ten, and it is probably now safe to say that IU is a lock for the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately, I don't have much time this morning, so feel free to fill in the gaps in the comments. IU struggled for much of the game offensively, and hit only 2-13 three pointers for the game, but as has become standard, IU excelled from the line (15-18) and hit some big shots down the stretch. Perhaps the most ancouraging statistic was turnovers. IU turned the ball over only 8 times, and usually surehanded Northwestern had 13. IU's turnover percentage of 12.8 is by far the best of the Big Ten season, and Northwestern's 20.9 was the third worst of the season for the Wildcats. This game didn't look much like I expected it to. The Wildcats made some big shots, but overall, I thought IU was in a reasonably good place defensively, and didn't get exploited with the backdoor layups terribly often. I recall a couple that were wide open in the second half, but that was about it. I was mostly surprised that NU managed to frustrate the Hoosiers defensively for mnost of the day. Much of the game had something of the same vibe of the home loss to Minnesota. IU trailed by as many as 6 in the first half, but rallied to lead by six at halftime. NU eventually build a second half lead of as many as five points, but IU fought back, and seemed to wear Northwestern down.
Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, and Victor Oladipo all had good scoring games, but the key was Verdell Jones, who returned after missing two games with a shoulder injury to score all six of his points in the final four minutes of the game, including a long jumper with 31 seconds left that essentially sealed the game. This level of performance probably won't be good enough to win any of the Hoosiers' remaining games, but it was nice to see IU find a way to win even though it wasn't their night. Next, IU heads to Iowa, seeking to ensure a .500 Big Ten record.