Column: Hartman, Zeisloft bring energy

Troy Williams and James Blackmon Jr. may have stole the headlines but it was guys like Collin Hartman and Nick Zeisloft that provided the energy Indiana needed to beat Ohio State on Saturday.

When you look back on Indiana’s hard fought 69-66 victory over Ohio State on Saturday, it’s easy and completely understandable to gravitate toward a couple of individual performances in particular.

Troy Williams was nothing short of brilliant. He was completely the opposite of the player who was held scoreless in 17 minutes of action earlier in the week in the 70-50 drubbing at Michigan State. He had 15 points and 12 rebounds and recorded his second career double-double. Williams had one highlight reel play after another.

James Blackmon Jr. scored 16 of his game-high 18 points in the second half. He played with confidence, hit a couple of difficult shots and buried his final five free throws, all of which came in the game’s final 4 minutes.

Williams and Blackmon will garner most of the headlines and again, I get that. But if I’m passing out game balls on Saturday, there are two other players that I believe deserved a tremendous amount of recognition, too: Collin Hartman and Nick Zeisloft.

Indiana came out flat Saturday and looked as if it was still suffering a hangover from the loss to Michigan State. IU fell behind 9-2 at the first media timeout and had already turned the ball over five times in less than 5 minutes.

Continue to play like that and it was going to be a long, nasty day inside Assembly Hall. The IU fans were getting restless with IU’s play early and had it not turned around, it could have been a volatile situation as the game progressed.

But that’s when Hartman and Zeisloft came to the rescue early.

Hartman started it off with a drive to the basket out of that media timeout that cut the lead to 9-4. He missed the free throw but his drive had gotten the fans into the game. On the other end he made a couple of diving hustle plays that didn’t necessarily get the ball back for IU but it seemed to be contagious among his teammates.

The level of energy and effort started to increase which was something IU was lacking early.

Then, over the next 4 minutes, Zeisloft came in and gave IU instant offense. He had a rebound put back and then buried a pair of 3-pointers. The second one, from the left wing, put Indiana on top 14-13 with 11:22 to play in the first half.

After that, Hartman and Zeisloft’s teammates began to tap into that level of play and it seemed as if the ship had been righted.

Hartman had more hustle plays in the second half including a memorable play under the basket where Blackmon had a layup blocked and then Hartman, falling out of bounds, was able to get the ball back in to Emmitt Holt under the bucket and he was fouled.

Later, Hartman blocked three shots. He had a fourth where he was called for a foul but it was close.

Hartman’s final line: Two points, six rebounds and three blocks in 24 minutes of play.

Zeisloft’s final line: Eight points, four rebounds in 23 minutes of play. And Zeisloft only took those two 3-point shots, making the most of his opportunities.

Once again, it was a great example of how a player can impact a game in ways much greater than filling up the stats sheet with points scored.

Hartman and Zeisloft were difference makers on Saturday for the Hoosiers.

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