1. This team is at its best when it distributes the points around.
Six Indiana players scored in double figures last night. Top scorers included Yogi Ferrell, who had 13 points and extended his consecutive games streak with a three-pointer to 66, and James Blackmon, Jr., who struggled a bit to get points in the preseason but led the team last night with 17. Troy Williams had 12 points, Robert Johnson had 12 (all from three-pointers), and Thomas Bryant had 11 points and 9 boards in his college debut, including a thundering dunk right before the Flags timeout that unfortunately led to a technical foul. Finally, Max Bielfeldt had 11 points in 15 minutes in his first game for IU, and the grad transfer looks like he'll provide some veteran leadership for the second unit if he turns out to be a solid bench contributor. Despite the easy victory that included a late bucket from fan favorite Tim Priller, the game still showed room for growth, as the Hoosiers only shot 9-for-27 from three-point range, and still turned the ball over 16 times. Also, the referees showed a willingness to enforce the new rules, as 48 total fouls were called throughout the contest.
2. The defensive performance was encouraging, as was the offensive rebounding.
Last year, Indiana only held one team to under 50 points all season. They did so in their first game this season, and held EIU to only 17 at halftime, thanks to a 27-3 run to end the first half. All in all, the Panthers only scored 0.72 points per possession, and the Hoosiers kept up the defensive intensity all game, including two blocks from OG Anunoby, who provided a necessary spark during his 15 minutes of the bench. The Hoosiers also compiled 21 total offensive rebounds, getting the boards off a whopping 63.6 percent of missed shots. On a night when three-point shooting was subpar, the offensive rebounding was especially important.
3. Guarantee games are never a sure thing, and last night in college hoops taught us this.
Wisconsin lost its season opener at home to Western Illinois last night. Illinois lost to a sneaky North Florida team that defeated Purdue last season. William and Mary defeated NC State by 16. And UCLA fell at Pauley to Monmouth in overtime. Indiana has certainly seen this side of things before, but the Hoosiers have now started out this season with an affirmation of their high expectations and top-15 preseason rankings. Next up is Austin Peay from the Hall on Monday at 7. Let's hope the Hoosiers can keep their strong play against another Ohio Valley Conference opponent. More good news for everyone is that this game will be on regular BTN, as opposed to BTN Plus.
One final note: Basketball may be back, but football is still here, and the Hoosiers take on Michigan at 3:30 from Memorial Stadium this afternoon.