Here is an analysis of Wednesday’s 70-65 Indiana victory over Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb. in the Big Ten opener for both schools. This analysis is a regular part of our AllHoosiers.com coverage of Indiana basketball this season.
WHAT LOOKED GOOD:Indiana showed Wednesday that it could win even without its top two scorers having big offensive nights. James Blackmon Jr. and Yogi Ferrell combined for 13 points on 4-of-16 shooting from the field but other Hoosiers stepped up in their place. Rob Johnson set the tone early with a pair of 3-pointers and finished with a team-high 14 points. Troy Williams was able to drive and penetrate at will, especially in the first half and had 13 points. Hanner Mosquera-Perea had one of his most complete games of the season, recording a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Indiana did a particularly nice job on the boards. The Hoosiers had a 44-31 rebounding edge. IU had a 12-6 edge in offensive rebounds. In fact, Nebraska got its first offensive rebound with just over 2 minutes to play in the first half. IU also had a 38-26 edge in points in the paint and Indiana’s bench outscored the Huskers bench, 18-5.
WHAT NEEDS TO IMPROVE:Indiana got a couple of big leads but was unable to hold them. The first one came in the first half when the Hoosiers led by as many as 16 twice. The final time was at 38-22. In that case, Nebraska outscored IU 10-2 down the stretch to only trail by eight at halftime, 40-32. In the second half, after falling behind, Indiana rallied to go up by 13 points with under 5 minutes to play. But again, Nebraska came storming back and got to within three in the final 2 minutes. Another issue for the Hoosiers was free throws. IU was 9-of-17 as a team. In the closing seconds, IU failed to capitalize on two one-and-one free throw opportunities, one by Mosquera-Perea and the other by Blackmon Jr. IU needs to get the ball in the right hands when it is looking to close out games.
FOR STARTERS:IU started with James Blackmon Jr., Robert Johnson and Yogi Ferrell along with forwards Troy Williams and Hanner Mosquera-Perea. That five combined to make 20-of-43 shots from the field, 6-for-17 from 3-point range and 6-for-12 at the free throw line. The starters had 30 rebounds, 11 assists (eight by Ferrell), nine turnovers and two assists.
FOR OPENERS:Since the 1999-2000 season, the Hoosiers are 9-7 in conference openers. IU has now won three of its last four and is 4-3 in conference openers in the Tom Crean era.
INDIVIDUAL OBSERVATIONS: Here’s a look at my own thoughts on a few Indiana players from Tuesday’s loss to Illinois:
1. YOGI FERRELL: Yogi played 35 minutes Wednesday and only scored five points. He didn’t shoot the ball particularly well either, hitting 2-of-7 shots from the field and 1-for-5 from 3-point range. But Yogi made up for it in other areas. He had eight assists and just one turnover. He was clearly the floor leader on both ends of the floor.
2. HANNER MOSQUERA-PEREA:HMP was active on both ends of the floor. Yes, nine of his 10 rebounds were on defense but he was constantly around the ball. That last rebound he came down with late in the game had to have been a good foot or higher than the 10-foot basket. Mosquerae-Perea had 12 points and 10 rebounds.
3. Nick Zeisloft: With IU trailing by four with 14:23, Zeisloft became the momentum killer when he made a long 3-pointer to bring IU to within one. Later, he made both ends of a one-and-one free throw opportunity with 33.9 seconds to play. This made it a five-point game instead of a three-point game. Zeisloft finished 1-of-6 from the field but it was a big one.
NEXT UP: Indiana (1-0) travels to play Michigan State next Monday night in East Lansing, Mich. The tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. ET on the Big Ten Network. The Spartans are 0-1 and have already lost a game at home in their conference opener.
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/FoxsportshutchIU opens B1G with 70-65 win
Analysis: 11-7 in Big Ten? Good possibility