Albers: IU Analysis on the 2K Classic

Justin Albers tells you what he liked from Thursday night's win and looks forward to UCONN.

There was a lot to like from Indiana's performance against Washington on Thursday night if you're a Hoosier fan.

In many ways, the Hoosiers (5-0) are way ahead of where I thought they would be at this point in the season. Now, it was only one game and a young team is always capable of going the other direction in a hurry, but Indiana's 102-84 win was impressive.

It was the Hoosiers' first game away from Assembly Hall, but it didn't look like it. Just than two weeks after needing two late 3-pointers from Will Sheehey to hold off LIU-Brooklyn at home, the Hoosiers put on an offensive clinic against a Pac-12 team.

They shared the ball to the tune of 16 assists on 34 field goals. They got easy baskets at the rim. They didn't settle for outside shots. Four players scored in double figures. They shot 86 percent (31-of-36 from the foul line).

"Against Long Island, we looked like we'd never played together before," Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterward. "Tonight, we looked like we've played together for awhile. What's that mean for tomorrow night? I don't know."

Freshmen Troy Williams and Noah Vonleh gave the national television audience a reason to remember their names. Williams had a game and season-high 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and eight rebounds in 29 minutes. He showed off his incredible athleticism on more than one instance, and he made some impressive jump shots as well.

Williams is almost always around the rim, just like Victor Oladipo was when he was a Hoosier. I didn't think Williams would be this kind of contributor this soon. But he's been really impressive.

Vonleh did the same types of things he's done through Indiana's first four games, just on a bigger stage. He finished with 18 points and nine boards, just missing his fifth straight double-double. Vonleh made 7-of-11 shots from the field.

After the game, Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was asked how Vonleh compares to other elite freshmen, such as Duke's Jabari Parker and Kansas' Andrew Wiggins.

"When it's all said and done," Romar said, "he has a chance to be right up there with some of those guys."

Vonleh was relentless on the glass, especially in the first half. He led the Hoosiers in that department, and Indiana outrebounded Washington 50-29.

"You really stand out on this team right now if you're not rebounding," Crean said.

"When we watch film with [Noah], we don't focus on the ones he's getting, we're focusing on the ones he could have gotten."

Yogi Ferrell had another 20-point game for the Hoosiers and added seven assists. He also made all three of Indiana's 3-pointers. He will really be tested Friday night when he faces UCONN's Shabazz Napier, one of the top guards in the nation.

Sheehey played well. Stanford Robinson had some nice baskets in his limited minutes. As did Devin Davis.

Hanner Mosquera-Perea didn't play as well as he has at home this season, but he's still a work in progress.

I have to admit, I continue to be somewhat disappointed with Jeremy Hollowell. I really thought he was going to take a big leap this season, and we've yet to see that happen. He makes too many careless turnovers, doesn't always appear to be playing hard, and isn't scoring all that well, either.

Hollowell finished with six points on 3-of-10 shooting.

Long term, I think Hollowell fits best as this team's sixth man. Who goes into the starting lineup? Probably Stanford Robinson, but he still has some things to learn before that happens. He's still behind because of the knee injury he sustained at Hoosier Hysteria.

All in all, Thursday night's performance was very impressive. Now, how quickly can a young Indiana team put it behind them and move onto UCONN?

Connecticut is a much better team than Washington, so the Hoosiers will have to come prepared.

UCONN is also 5-0, with wins over Maryland and Boston College, the second coming Thursday night at Madison Square Garden. The Huskies feature one of the nation's top backcourts, led by the senior Napier.

Napier is averaging 14.8 points, 8.4 rebounds (!) and 6.6 assists through five games. He had a triple-double (14 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) against Yale on Nov. 11.

Napier has had a great career at UCONN. He averaged 17.1 points and 4.6 assists for head coach Kevin Ollie a year ago. Which Indiana player will draw that matchup? My guess is it will be a shared assignment between Ferrell, Hollowell and Davis.

The Hoosiers will get their biggest test to date on Friday night in the Big Apple. Will they shine as bright as the city's lights like they did on Thursday night?


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