In statistics, you’re taught that with more activity you’re more likely to regress back to the mean. In basketball terms, the more you shoot, the more likely it is that your final shooting percentage is equal to your average for the season.
On Thursday, Indiana came out and shot the ball well above their season average in the first half. In the second half, rather than following the basic rules of statistics, Indiana’s shooting percentage only got better as the Hoosiers made 67.9 percent of their shots in the second half and pulled away with a 95-73 point victory in their first game of the Big Ten Tournament.
With slim hopes of still making the NCAA Tournament on the line, Indiana pulled away with its largest win against a conference opponent this season.
“The way they played tonight, they’re one of the best teams in the country,” said Iowa guard Peter Jok, according to Mark Emmert of the Des Moines Register. “I think they can win the whole thing.”
Indiana was in control for a majority of the first half tonight, but late turnovers brought Iowa within three points after 20 minutes of play. After some back and forth play from both teams, the game found an equal point with 16:13 remaining and the score tied at 48 a piece.
From there, Indiana outscored Iowa 43 to 14 over the next 13 minutes.
Schematically, Indiana found its greatest success from its transition offense. The Hoosiers utilized key defensive stops, as opportunities to run and spread the floor for open shots.
“When our team can get stops and run-out, we’re very dangerous,” said assistant coach Rob Judson.
On the night, Iowa shot 45 percent from the field, offering Indiana plenty of chances to run the floor. In addition to that percentage, Indiana held the Big Ten’s leading scorer Peter Jok to nine points on the night. Comparatively, that’s 26 less points than Jok scored the last time these two teams played, just over two weeks ago.
“The defense was there,” said Coach Crean, per ASAP Sports. “Our rebounding was there. We weren't putting them at the foul line. The bottom line is we were able to carry that to the offensive end and really move well without the ball, and the ball moved accordingly.”
With opportunities to spread the floor and find open shots, the Hoosiers had their best shooting night of the season since December 22nd. Indiana made 60 percent of their shots from the field, and the Hoosiers also shot that same exact percentage from behind the three point line. Indiana’s 12 made threes on 20 attempts resulted in what was the Hoosier’s best three point shooting percentage for the season.
Some of the biggest contributors for the Hoosiers were their freshman off the bench.
De’Ron Davis scored a career high 15 points and was 7-for-7 from the field. Devonte Green scored 10 points and grabbed five rebounds while Curtis Jones added six points of his own.
“One of the things that Coach Crean continues to coach this team with is attitude,” said Judson. “Just the habits of thought and the ability to overcome obstacles...With Curtis Jones, he did not get in against Ohio State, and as a freshman you can develop a low level attitude on that. But he comes out tonight, after having two terrific practice days, and really helps our basketball team.”
Each member of the freshman trio also had a steal on the night, and their points helped contribute to Indiana’s 35 total bench points.
The game began with a concerning open, as Josh Newkirk picked up two fouls in the first four minutes. Although those fouls sidelined Newkirk for the rest of the half, they didn’t prove to be costly as Indiana’s freshman came in and immediately sparked a run.
With 15:08 remaining in the first half, Indiana went on a 11-2 run thanks to seven points from De’Ron Davis in a little over a minute of basketball.
After that run, the Hoosiers led 17-13 until giving up two straight threes to Jordan Bohannon.
Bohannon would seemingly be the only major threat to the Hoosiers throughout the game, as he scored 24 points in the game’s entirety with six three point shots.
After those two threes however, Indiana bolted out to another crucial run, compiling 12 unanswered points.
The first half ended with the Hoosiers up 43-40 and what appeared to be another close game ahead of them. With that said, Indiana’s second half defense changed that sentiment rather quickly.
In the second half, play remained rather consistent until the 13-minute stretch of dominance.
In that span, junior James Blackmon Jr. stepped up in various ways.
Blackmon scored 18 points in the second half after contributing just five in the first. Twelve of those points came from behind the arc, as Blackmon was four for five from three point range. The junior guard also added eight rebounds and four assists. Tom Crean was appreciative of his effort.
“I thought his defense even got better in the second half,” said Crean, per ASAP Sports. “That was key. He was aggressive. He was down and active... I thought what James did better in the second half even than the first was he cut. He was getting from one side to the other.”
When Blackmon was asked about his offensive performance, he had a similar reaction to Coach Crean.
“Really it was just locking in on the defensive end,” said Blackmon, per ASAP Sports. “That's what I think got me going. Then, like you said, once I get in a zone, try to take good shots, whatever is open, be aggressive with it.”
Indiana’s defensive abilities proved to be the game changer as the second half unfolded. The Hoosiers utilized Freddie McSwain to guard Peter Jok which proved to be successful, and Juwan Morgan added three blocks on the night.
In the end, there was nothing Iowa could do to rally offensively. With only three players in double figures for Iowa, Indiana was able to coast away to the victory.