There are several reasons. Indiana is making shots, doing a better-than-anticipated job on the boards and is showing a lot of fight. All three of those points were part of IU’s 80-74 road victory over Illinois on Sunday in Champaign.
But I think a big key for the Hoosiers is the fact that different players are stepping up every game. This is far from a one or two man show. And when you have a number of different players who are capable of having big games at any time it simply makes you that much more dangerous.
The most consistent player from a scoring standpoint has been Troy Williams. In those four games he has scored 64 points, an average of 16 points per game. His low was 13 and his high was 21. But he has been a consistent presence. In the one game that IU lost in that stretch, a road loss at Michigan State, Williams was held scoreless.
So clearly a consistent Williams is a big part of IU’s success.
But look at the other contributors in those four wins.
Robert Johnson led IU in scoring against Nebraska with 14 and again against Penn State with 20. Pretty solid production from a freshman who has only played a handful of conference games.
James Blackmon Jr. had a mini slump early in conference play but has snapped out it with some big games of late. He had 21 against Illinois on Sunday. He had 18 against Ohio State the week before. He’s starting to find his rhythm as a 3-point shooter again, too. Against the Illini, Blackmon missed his first two 3-point attempts and then hit his final four. He had another shot where he was fouled on a 3-point attempt and proceeded to make all three free throws.
Yogi Ferrell has been consistently one of IU’s glue players and he’s doing a great job of facilitating for others, too. In the four victories, Yogi only has 29 points total but he has been a major asset in other ways. To with his 29 points in those four wins, he also has had 25 assists. In each of those four wins he has played a minimum of 35 minutes per game. In the last two games, playing a total of 75 minutes, Ferrell has three turnovers. That’s a huge statistic to show IU’s ability to be off to a 4-1 start.
Nick Zeisloft `struggled early in the Big Ten but has bounced back in a big way. The last three games he is 6-of-9 from the field including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Sunday against Illinois, he scored 10 points which was his first double figures game since back in November against SMU. But Zeisloft is a hired gun who can knock down big shots when needed.
Collin Hartman continues to be an energy player and has played a huge role in IU’s success. The last two games he has scored 14 points including a trio of 3-point shots. He has started the last two games and figures to stay in the starting lineup for at least the near future.
Stanford Robinson has yet to be a consistent presence off the bench but he has clearly had his moments. His 12 points and four rebounds last week against Penn State was a big reason why the Hoosiers were able to win.
Emmitt Holt has just scratched the surface but is also a contributor. He has scored 16 points in the four IU conference wins. When he learns to play at a more consistent level he will be a player that will be difficult to keep out of the lineup.
Max Hoetzel has also picked his spots and provided energy. He had six points off the bench on Sunday in just 5 minutes of play. Three of those points came off his first made 3-point field goal since the Butler game. Again, another player that continues to develop.
That’s a total of nine players making contributions in the current lineup. Add in walk-on Ryan Burton who played a key role against Penn State and you have 10. An 11th is Hanner Mosquera-Perea who is expected to miss another three weeks with a dislocated knee cap.
But you get the idea. IU is getting big contributions from several different players.
When you look at it in those terms it’s easier to see how the Hoosiers are off to a 4-1 Big Ten start.Scoring or not, Ferrell leading IU
Game Analysis: IU 80, Illinois 74
Column: Time to respect the Hoosiers