BY Nathan Brown, AllHoosiers.com
What Looked Good: Essentially, the difference in this game came down to opportunities at the free throw line. The Hoosiers actually made fewer baskets from the field (24) than Nicholls State (28) managed, but IU Coach Tom Crean said he knew coming in that his team would get plenty of chances from the charity stripe.
Coming into Friday, Nicholls State opponents had been shooting more than 36 shots from the free throw line per game. IU managed 35, making 26 (74.3 percent) to keep control of the game even when they struggled from the floor or continue to cough the ball up.
Crean also used a full-court press for the majority of Friday's game, which gave Nicholls State fits throughout the game. The Hoosiers forced one shot-clock violation early in the second half where the Colonels didn't even look like they knew they were needing to force up a shot.
On the other end of the court, IU was pushing the ball up quickly, often putting up shots five seconds or less into the shot clock and got on a run in the second half where they scored 12 points in 3:10. With Yogi Ferrell pushing the pace and dishing highlight reel passes, there were points the Hoosiers looked as strong as they have this season, even up against lowly Nicholls State.
What Needs to Improve: The Hoosiers have to cut down on the turnovers. Plain and simple. Sure, Crean said his players may not have been on point after the week of final exams they've endured. And yes, a young run-and-gun team is bound to have more turnovers than a veteran half-court squad, but against a team like Nicholls State, the Hoosiers looked very average in that aspect.
Too many times, the IU ball handlers would drive it up the court simply with nowhere to go, or they'd get the ball under the basket and lose it trying to dish it out to a guarded teammate. This is the best time to be trying out new lineups and subbing in Jonny Marlin in the first half before the Hoosiers have to weather the Big Ten schedule in less than two weeks, but Yogi Ferrell, Will Sheehey and Troy Williams can't combine for 10 turnovers against teams like Nicholls State, much less their Big Ten foes.
For Starters: Crean didn't stray from his normal lineup of Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell, Troy Williams, Will Sheehey and Noah Vonleh. This crew has now started 11 of IU's 12 games this season. The Hoosiers' starting five scored 55 of IU's 79 points, led by 16 from Yogi Ferrell and 14 from Will Sheehey and Jeremy Hollowell. That group shot 18-of-31 from the floor (58.1 percent) and pulled down 18 of IU's 33 rebounds. Yogi Ferrell dished eight assists, including seven in the second half.
Individual Observations: Here's a look into a couple players from Friday night's game – one who shined and one who continues to struggle over the past several games.
1. Yogi Ferrell: IU's starting point guard continues to serve as IU's backbone as just a sophomore. He played to his average of 16.1 points per game coming into Friday night with a 16-point effort. Crean said afterwards that whoever is in that role has to be an all-around threat, and that's what Yogi Ferrell is starting to become. After shooting just a notch over 30 percent from behind the arc as a freshman, Yogi is shooting virtually the same from inside or outside the 3-point line – 42.1 percent from three and 42.2 percent from the field. The four turnovers is a bit of a concern, but with eight assists, he managed to make up for a few errant passes with facilitating for the rest of his team.
2. Troy Williams: As one of IU's two regular freshmen starters, Troy Williams showed a lot of promise to open the season. He brings incredible athleticism and speed to the court, but as of late, his productivity has dropped after his performance of the season against Washington where he scored 22 points and pulled down eight rebounds. During his first five games, he averaged 12.4 points and six rebounds per game while committing just 2.1 turnovers each time out. Since, Williams is scoring less than seven points and just over four rebounds per game. Fellow freshman Stanford Robinson has been seeing more minutes as of late and has been giving up the ball less while scoring seven points per game over his last four outings. Crean isn't afraid to switch up the lineup, and I wouldn't be surprised to see Robinson crack the starting five at some point.
Next Up: IU plays again this weekend against Kennesaw St. Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall. The game will tip at noon on Big Ten Network.