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Three Things: Indiana 81, Iowa 69

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Didn’t see that coming!

Indiana v Iowa Photo by Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Indiana went to Iowa City and claimed the signature win it has been looking for, toppling No. 4 Iowa 81-69.

Let’s talk about it. Here are Three Things:

They couldn’t finish at Florida State or Wisconsin. But they finished at Iowa. Go figure!

A 23-3 (!) run late in the second half redirected Indiana from the kind of maddeningly close loss the Hoosiers know well to a … runaway victory against the most efficient offense in the country. Huh. Well then. In truth, it turned out the most efficient offense in the country was anything but during Thursday’s second half, with Iowa going 11 minutes without a field goal and seeing a nine-point lead collapse into a 12-point deficit.

Give IU credit for the disruption. The Hoosiers responded from the nadir that was the Purdue loss last Thursday and earned arguably the most impressive win of the Archie Miller era — it’s a short list, to be sure. But still. The mental readjustment that took place in recent days is worth recognizing.

Race Thompson made Luka Garza work for every shot. Rob Phinisee scored 18 points, but it was his work hounding Iowa’s guards on the other end that was as valuable as anything he did with the ball in his hands. And the defensive concentration from everyone seemed to be as good as it’s been at any point in recent memory, with the Hoosiers holding Iowa to its lowest points per possession output of the season. Everyone was, at the very least, good. It was a great win — a Quad-1, resume headliner that will pay off in a couple months. Indiana was going to need to steal (at least) a road win at some point this conference season. On Thursday at Iowa, the Hoosiers did.

Jordan Geronimo gave IU great minutes

With IU’s top options navigating foul trouble, Geronimo stepped in and stepped up. The freshman forward not only guarded Luka Garza, he seemed to frustrate the Iowa big man in a couple key sequences. Geronimo’s length, quickness and spacial awareness gave Garza trouble, and served as an anchor effort for what IU wanted to do on the defensive end of the floor.

Perhaps best of all for Geronimo and his confidence going forward, his presence was felt on both ends. He scored seven points and recorded an assist in 10 minutes off the bench, and he did it all with a calm, cool, fundamental approach to the game. He didn’t do too much, just what was asked of him.

We’re spotlighting Geronimo because he was a game-changer, but Anthony Leal and Khristian Lander had their moments, too. Really, the whole bench did, delivering on a night when it had to.

The free throw shooting. Oh my god.

The win spared us two whole days of Facebook Dads losing their ever-loving minds over missed free throws, so this was really like two wins in one. But the Facebook Dads do have a point. Indiana beat the No. 4 team by 12 points — and the margin should have been wider! Indiana went 21-for-35 (60%) on the night, and outside of Al Durham, who hit nine of his 10 free throws, it was a super tough look.

IU is the second-worst free throw shooting team in the Big Ten at 65.9%, and it hasn’t shot better than 62% in any of the past four games. Incredibly, it didn’t cost Indiana this time.