Game-changing moments is CQ's day-after-the-game feature. Here, we highlight each of the moments that turned the tide in the previous night's matchup. Today: Indiana's 85-78 win over #4 Iowa.
Before we get into this, let me say two things. 1) While Troy Williams wasn't part of any game-changing moments, it should be noted that for most of the night on Thursday, we saw good Troy Williams. And given that he's been a fixture in game-changing moments for his poor play, I thought it appropriate to take notice of his outstanding contribution against Iowa. 2) The moniker "Hall of Calls" should be killed, buried, and then dug up and cremated because... well, you saw the game.
1. The Big Ten scheduling this game for 9 p.m. on a Thursday night, and Indiana and Iowa being good
If you aren't a college student, you may spend most Thursday nights the way I spend mine: eat some dinner, watch a little Netflix, go to bed at 8:15 and not feel bad about it for even a second. If you are a college student, you may wake up around 7:00 from a pre-game nap so that you can hit the bars for five of the next seven hours. (You gotta pregame and you gotta go to Taco Bell at some point.)
What I'm trying to say is that, if Indiana and Iowa were both tournament quality teams this season, last night was going to be energetic. It would produce a student section that would earn the general public's approval and, of course, the sweaters and their wives would have made plenty of noise during the occasional big moment.
But Indiana and Iowa are good. Very good. (This is not debatable and you can take your comments to Hammer and Rails if you feel differently.) So this 9 p.m. start on a Thursday night was for first place in the Big Ten, and in case you weren't in the building let me tell you: it was nuts.
There was something more than passion from fans. The non-students were on their feet more than usual and the students, um, were ravenous. I'm pretty sure that the student section would have eaten an official if they could have gotten their hands on them. When Indiana took the lead with about eight minutes to go on a Colin Hartman layup, it was so loud in Assembly Hall that it was quiet. And the game was over. The team that had blown a double-digit first half lead had all the energy and momentum back on its side. And it's a credit to the unbelievable student section. (And partly to Fran, who inexplicably refused to call a timeout during the big run that put the game out of reach.)
2. Thomas Bryant drew attention from the wrong people
Thomas Bryant got called for four fouls in what seemed like 86 seconds of playing time. The first call of the night went against him, just seconds into the ballgame, and then he picked up three more throughout his short night that were cheap at best, and probably better described as questionable. Whatever you call them, Bryant's absence was felt in the paint on the defensive end, where Iowa made its living for a good part of the night.
While it definitely made a difference in the way the game was played on both ends of the floor, this should actually be incredibly encouraging. Along with Yogi going just 2-for-12 from the field (2-for-9 from three), Bryant's 14 measly minutes suggests that Indiana beat Iowa without putting its best foot forward, which should caution the naysayers from predicting a Hawkeye blowout in Iowa City.
3. Tom Crean took his best player out of the game in its most critical moment, and it worked
30 minutes into the game, it looked like post-game discussions might revolve around Yogi Ferrell failing to show up in the biggest game of the season and letting his team's title chances slip away for good. Then he missed two more jumpers and threw the ball away after one of his only positive plays up to that point, an offensive rebound off his own miss. And at the next break in the action, Tom Crean yanked him. And put Harrison Niego back in the game.
The move worked wonderfully. Not only did the team go on a little spurt with Yogi on the bench, but when he returned, the Hoosier star played some of his best defense, made a three, and iced the game down the stretch with six free throws in the last five minutes.
It was just one of the buttons Crean pushed during the game that worked, again showing how in-tune he is with his team right now. Harrison Niego provided a little energy and a jumper, if nothing else. Juwan Morgan played just four minutes, but when he did spell Max Bielfeldt who played a whopping 25 minutes, he played some solid defense that turned Hawkeyes out of the lane and scored three points and grabbed three rebounds.
It was just one of the buttons. But it was the biggest. And after he pulled Yogi, Indiana outscored Iowa 29-19.