After losing to Butler in overtime, Indiana has rebounded with three straight dominating wins.
IU seems to have rectified the problems that plagued the team against the Bulldogs. No longer to the Hoosiers show up with no energy or effort.
The quality of their recent oppents has left something to be desired, but it would be more troublesome if they weren’t blowing these teams out by 30-plus points.
Pomeroy Ratings still has IU as the best team in the nation, despite the loss and the Hoosiers still have the top offense in all of D-I basketball.
IU defeated Mount St. Mary’s 93-54 four days after losing to Butler. This was another slow start from IU due to the team simply playing too fast. There seems to be this need from the players to simply bury their opponents as fast as possible, this results in a lot of turnovers and sloppy play.
This is the kind of play on offense that can get a team into a lot of trouble, thankfully, the defense remains solid during these stretches and keeps the game close. As they always do, IU settled into a groove and found a good rhythm. The rhythm that the Hoosiers eventually find has the potential to erase any deficit and turn it into a 15 point lead.
One of the big things to note was that there were no more celebrations after big plays. Victor Oladipo stopped pointing to his eyes after a big dunk or holding up three fingers. This went for the rest of the team as well. It was a much more business like approach.
What really jumped off the stat sheet was the 70.6 percent shooting. It is really an unheard of level of efficiency and one that will be very difficult to replicate.
Two days later, IU took down Florida Atlantic 88-52. From the very start, the defense was into this one. Indiana forced a lot of long possessions by FAU and caused a number of turnovers. IU didn’t have as typical a slow start, some of the first few possessions were disappointing, but aside from that the Hoosiers started strong and rode that to victory.
IU did pretty much everything right. They shot much better from the free throw line, rebounded very well, and the younger players got lots of quality minutes. They built a big lead in the first half and maintained it throughout.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea delivered a big game, snagging 10 rebounds in 14 minutes. He continues to improve and get more minutes as his finds a better rhythm on the court.
After Christmas break for the team, iU beat up Jacksonville 93-59. The night was punctuated by the hot shooting of Jordan Hulls. The senior hit six three-pointers, including three in a row on three straight possession at the end of the first half.
IU had another slow start, but solid defense and a slightly slower tempo got the Hoosiers back into the game. Cody Zeller had to sit for most of the night with foul trouble, but still managed a very solid game.
The knock on this game, and the other two even going back to the Butler game, is the lack of set plays. IU seems to run an offense that relies too much on read and react. They specifically need to get Zeller set up on the low block more often in order to run a high-low. IU could also stand to run more pick-and-rolls. They have incredibly fast players (Oladipo, Ferrell) who would excel off a screen and Zeller has an outside shot that would make it a very dangerous play to try and defend.
IU will have to run more set plays in the Big Ten games coming up. They also need to get a lot tougher. Zeller can’t allow himself to be bullied in the post like he was against Butler. He is too talented and big to get beat on the low block.
IU has a few minor problems, but they are still one of the best teams in the country and Vegas still has them as odds on favorites to win the NCAA Tournament.
On Monday, IU will have its first true road game when they travel to Iowa (11-2). The difficulty of the Big Ten conference will make up for the weak non-conference schedule that IU has had so far.
We’ll have more up on the Iowa game in the next few days.
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