With every basketball game that Indiana plays this season we will take a look at three things to watch that could be important for that game.
Here are the three keys for Evansville:
1. NO NEW YORK STATE OF MIND
Indiana's momentum was building up to last Friday's game with No. 18 Connecticut before the Hoosiers dropped a tough, 59-58 decision to the Huskies. Prior to that IU had scored 100 points or more in three of the first five games. Four of those wins had come at Assembly Hall. There are going to be hiccups along the way for a young team. Friday against UConn, Indiana only lost by a point despite the fact that Noah Vonleh was held scoreless and fellow freshman Troy Williams had just two points. The pair had combined for 40 the night before against Washington. Indiana needs to get back to doing the things it does well: rebounding at a high level, making shots difficult on the defensive end, and getting to the free throw line 40 times or more per game. Do those things and Indiana can bounce back even against a good Evansville team that is 5-0 and averaging more than 90 points per game.
2. SLOW DOWN BALENTINE
Kokomo's D.J. Balentine is the fourth leading scorer in the nation, averaging 29.6 points per game through five games. Four times he has scored exactly 29 points and one game 32. IU coach Tom Crean said his statistics are like a Xbox game. The given is that Balentine is going to score a lot of points. When you've scored 29 or more in every game you're going to find a way to get your points. But Indiana has to try to slow him down and take him out of his rhythm. And more importantly, even if Balentine is able to get 20 points or more the Hoosiers have to not let anyone else beat them. Sometimes you put so much focus on one player that other players step up and have big games. With Indiana it will be more than just one player trying to stop him but rather multiple Indiana players that will each get shots at him.
3. CREATE YOUR OWN EXCITEMENT
The bottom line here is that even though the announced crowd will be a paid attendance number of 15,000 or more, the truth is that with the students out this week, this is one of four home games not part of the season ticket package and thus one where seats are available. Some people will take advantage of that and get to an Indiana game that perhaps that would not normally be able to attend. But since you're playing an in-state school, look for Evansville fans to make the trek to Bloomington, too. The whole point is that it could potentially be a different kind of atmosphere. If that's the case, Indiana will need to create some of its own excitement and that hasn't been a problem for this team. Indiana needs some plays early that ignite the crowd and turn the Hall into the kind of home court advantage it can provide.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch