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Despite a 'disappointing' first half, Troy Williams' growth the key to Indiana's long-term success in March

In the pre-season, Troy Williams drew possibly unfair comparisons to Victor Oladipo. With half the season gone, he doesn't need to play at Oladipo's level for Indiana to achieve at the highest level -- but the numbers say a few traits wouldn't hurt.

Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Two and a half months ago, with expectations high and the season yet to start, we took a look at Troy Williams growth heading into year three and how that compared favorably to former Hoosier Victor Oladipo.With roughly half the season over and conference play starting to kick into full gear, a revisit of that comparison seems in order.

First and foremost, a simple look at the stats show you how similar their third years have been.

Troy Williams - 12.8 points, 6.8 rebounds, 2.2 assists, 1.4 steals

Victor Oladipo - 13.6 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.1 assists, 2.2 steals

There's much more to dive into, but an initial look shows you that Williams lived up to the projections based on his past two seasons. While his jump may not have been quite as dramatic as Oladipo's, nor has his impact been identical, he is improving on an Oladipo-like trajectory.

The big difference between Oladipo's second and third season, and really his first season to his last, was his improved three-point stroke. In his junior season, Oladipo hoisted 68 three-pointers, an average of 1.9 a game, and made them at a 44.1 percent clip.

This season, Williams' improvement hasn't been as drastic, but still noticeable. In 18 games, he's shot 27 threes, an average of 1.5 per night, making 37 percent of his shots.

Neither shot much of their shots from three-point range, instead using it to get defenders honest. Williams has a three-point attempt rate of 18.1 percent, meaning just 18.1 percent of his field goals are three-pointers. Oladipo's is slightly higher at 22.4 percent, but still not dramatic amount when you consider someone like Yogi Ferrell, for reference, shoots 38 percent of his shots from behind the arc.

A deeper look at analytics and advanced stats offer more favorable comparisons for Williams.

A big knock on Williams, and Indiana as a whole this season, has been their turnover rate, which ranks them 316th nationally according to KenPom.Individually, Williams has a turnover percentage of 22.2 percent, up from his 16.7 percent mark last year. Oladipo, however, turned the ball over 18.5 percent of the time. Compare that to a usage percentage standpoint where Williams' has a mark of 25 percent while Oladipo's was at 22.2 percent and you can nearly call it even.

Basically, Williams has the ball more and, subsequently, turns it over more.

Another advanced stat to look at is points produced, which is a fairly self-explanatory figure. In 36 games his junior season, Oladipo produced 478 points, an average of 13.2 points produced per game. Comparatively, in 18 games, Williams has produced 228 points, an average of 12.6 points produced a game.

Okay, you're just throwing out numbers. What does it all mean?

First, Williams has made a jump this season, but not to the degree that both fans expected nor to the level of Oladipo, although it's close. But, realistically, it was borderline absurd to assume Williams would follow the same progressions that took Oladipo from under-recruited three-star player to top-2 pick in three seasons. Sure, his production across the board is not quite at the mark that Oladipo did his junior year, but the differences are fairly minimal in many areas.

And really, any fan who has watched Williams this year and Oladipo last season knows that the two aren't comparable. Oladipo's final year in Bloomington saw him nominated for and awarded all sorts of accolades. For Williams this year, First Team All-Big Ten seems like a stretch, though there is still over half the conference schedule left.

Why does it feel this way?

Indiana's asking more from Troy Williams now than was ever asked of Victor Oladipo individually.

And while that seems absurd, consider the other offensive options available to Indiana in 2013. Zeller. Watford. Hulls. Ferrell. That's an incredibly talented roster where Oladipo could simply do what he did best -- slash, get to the bucket, defend, make three pointers with time. Without Blackmon, Indiana's effectively asking Williams to defend the best wing player, rebound, score, and run the point at times when Yogi Ferrell takes to the bench. It forces Wiliams into an overexposed role, comparatively to Oladipo.

And when players are overexposed, mistakes happen. Consistency has been an issue that has plagued Williams this season. For Oladipo, after two single-digit point games to start the year, he did that just four more times the rest of the year. Williams has already scored less than 10 points five times this year, including three times in the last four games, the exception being a season-high 23 points in a blowout over Ohio State.When Oladipo was locked in, which came on a near nightly basis, he was often the best player on the floor. With Williams, you never know what version you'll get and rarely has he looked like the best player on the floor.

Obviously, there is still time for Williams to establish himself, and with James Blackmon likely out for the season, the Hoosiers need Williams' production to increase, especially in the scoring column. Despite a relatively soft start to the Big Ten schedule, Williams has scored less than 10 points in four of Indiana's five outings to start the conference season.

That's enough for Indiana to beat Rutgers, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

But it might not be enough for the Hoosiers to compete for a Big Ten title down the stretch.