Despite the 342 fouls on the night, the Indiana Hoosiers came away with a four-point, overtime win over Kansas in a game that told us a lot about the new Hoosiers.
James Blackmon led the team with 26 points, Thomas Bryant added 19 and 10, Curtis Jones had 15 and OG Anunoby finished with 13 as IU went 10 deep, absorbed tons of foul trouble and finished strong.
What. A. Win.
Last season, we told you not to get too low on a team based on November results. Likewise, we shouldn’t get too high on a team based on November results, but my oh my what a performance this was.
In the first 45 minutes of the post-Yogi Ferrell era, the Hoosiers looked like a different team, but quite potentially a better team.
Last year’s team was one built on shooting and movement. This year’s team features tons of size, length and athleticism. Thomas Bryant and Juwan Morgan each grabbed 10 rebounds (and five fouls), De’Ron Davis had some big minutes (especially in overtime), and the Hoosiers took the rebounding advantage 50-38.
This win was very ugly and the Hoosiers look disjointed a whole lot, but threes (IU hit 15 to Kansas’ 7) and free throws late (IU finished 16-of-18 after starting 10-of-18) helped seal the deal for Indiana.
Welcome back James Blackmon
The big question surrounding IU was who would take The Shot late with Ferrell gone. Enter JBJ.
Blackmon had 22 of his 26 points in the second half and knocked down some enormous shots that bailed out what was often a confused IU offense.
JBJ took his beatings last season even after going down, but he silenced a lot of critics tonight, even if it was just for one game. While this was just one game and problems still remain, Blackmon asserting himself as The Guy this early in the season is a fantastic sign.
Depth and the war of attrition won IU the game tonight
Yes, the refs were questionable at best. Any crew that calls 62 fouls in a 45-minute game that takes place on November 11 should be put in jail. In fact, in the time it took you to get to this part of the story, you were whistled for three fouls and Frank Mason just shots four more free throws.
However, both teams dealt with the refs. Each team was whistled for 31 fouls and both teams had three players foul out.
The different tonight is the Hoosiers had players to step up.
When Bryant went out, Juwan Morgan came in and played admirably, finishing with 10 rebounds and four assists. When he went out, Davis stepped in and knocked down some big free throws in overtime.
And when Robert Johnson went out, Curtis Jones stepped in and boy did he make an impact. CuJo finished 6-of-10 on the night and hit one monster stepback through as well as the game-sealing dunk.
IU can legitimately go 10 deep as they did tonight, and that’s AFTER losing Collin Hartman. In games like tonight, there are many teams in the country that can push out 10 people like IU.
Better yet, we won’t even call them platoons and trot them out to a humiliating upset in the NCAA Tournament.
Enjoy the win. It was an impressive one over what is likely a top five team in the country. But remember, November basketball needs to come with a healthy dose of salt. A lot can change between now and March.