Hoosier MVP…The one bright spot Tuesday was the play of Robert Vaden, who tied the Indiana school-record with eight 3-pointers on his way to a 26-point night. Vaden tied the record that is also held by Neil Reed (1996), Brian Evans (1994), Jay Edwards (1988) and Iowa Coach Steve Alford (1986) by going 8-of-11 from behind the arc. Vaden now leads the Big Ten with 2.7 3-pointers per game, and he's shooting 50.6 percent from behind the arc.
While some assumed Vaden's big night was a result of Indiana returning to its smaller lineup with Vaden at the power forward spot, IU Coach Mike Davis said it was a result of Vaden being more aggressive offensively. Whatever the reason, Indiana needs Vaden to continue to be aggressive on that end of the floor.
Pivotal Stretch…Another game, another slow start for the Hoosiers. This time, though, it was the opening of the first and second halves that did in Indiana. The Hoosiers missed their first three shots on the first half and committed a turnover while falling behind 7-0 early. Indiana was able to chip away at the lead and went into halftime trailing by only three, but a 14-0 Iowa run to start the second half was too much for the Hoosiers to overcome. Indiana doubled its dismal play at the start of the second half, missing its first six shots and committing a pair of turnovers as Iowa went ahead 44-27 with 15:38 remaining.
Iowa has struggled recently at the start of second halves, getting outscored by Michigan State 21-5 on Saturday in the half's opening five minutes on its way to a 30-point loss in East Lansing. Last Wednesday Minnesota outscored the Hawkeyes 9-0 in the first 2:36 of the second half to turn a five-point halftime deficit into a four-point lead. But Iowa had no problems remedying its woes against an Indiana team that allowed the Hawks to hit six of their first seven second-half shots.
What I Found Most Concerning… Getting a consistent effort from its team seems to be an unending dilemma for the IU coaching staff, particularly on the road. Indiana had a golden opportunity to establish itself as arguably the team to beat with a win in Iowa City, but instead the Hoosiers were not only outscored by the Hawkeyes, but out-hustled and out-worked as well. Iowa had its way on the interior, getting a combined 28 points from Greg Brunner and Erek Hansen on 12-of-16 shooting, and won a game it had to have after a 30-point loss at Michigan State on Saturday. Give Mike Davis credit for benching some starters and giving quality minutes to Errek Suhr (21 minutes) and Sean Kline (11 minutes) in an effort to up the team's intensity level, but he has to find a way to get a more consistent effort out of his team when it ventures on the road. Time will tell if the message Davis tried to send Tuesday was heard.
What I Found Most Surprising… Davis didn't shy away from delivering a message with his lengthy benchings of Marco Killingsworth late in the first half and early in the second half. There have been times in the past where some have questioned the Hoosiers' coach for a perceived unwillingness to sit down players when they weren't giving all-out effort on both ends of the floor. But against Iowa, Davis sent a message late in the first half when he yanked Killingsworth for taking a 3-pointer with IU trailing by 10, and then did the same two minutes into the second half after Greg Brunner came away with an offensive rebound and putback basket to give Iowa a nine-point lead. Afterwards Davis said that Killingsworth was still battling some lingering back spasms and that contributed to the decision to sit him, but it was clear that the biggest reason behind the decision was his play defensively.
What I Found Most Impressive…For all of Indiana's struggles in Iowa City, there were a couple of good things to come out of the game. First of all, A.J. Ratliff looked like he was on the brink of re-emerging as a big-time contributor. While he scored only two points before fouling out in nine minutes, he was aggressive on the defensive end and came away with a steal and a fastbreak basket. He also contributed four rebounds and a pair of steals before getting called for his fifth foul with more than 12 minutes remaining. Indiana also got good efforts from Kline and Suhr. Kline had two points and two blocks in 11 minutes and gave IU Coach Mike Davis the sort of effort defensively he was looking for. Errek Suhr, meanwhile, also stepped in and had a team-high three assists and three points in 21 minutes.
IU Coach Mike Davis on Iowa center Erek Hansen, who had 11 points, three rebounds and six blocks:
"He's the best shot blocker in the league. It is really comical when you don't realize he can block shots and take it to him like he is not a shot blocker. I think he blocked three or four shots right there in that one stretch when they were making a run that really got the crowd into the game."
IU Coach Mike Davis on what his team's 26 fouls suggested, compared to 11 for Iowa:
" That we fouled them. When you foul 26 times, they are going to call 26 fouls."
Iowa Coach Steve Alford on the job Hansen did on Killingsworth:
"Erek knows he did not have the best game against (Michigan State's) Paul Davis and he is going through a difficult stretch here with Davis, Killingsworth, (Ohio State's Terence) Dials, (Matt) Kiefer at Purdue, and (Courtney) Sims at Michigan. This is an incredible run he is going through with centers. But, he is a senior, playing with great urgency, and great confidence. I know he was upset with the way he played at Michigan State and to his credit he came back and did positive things…I thought he really made Killingsworth get a little frustrated and that is hard to do because Marco is a tremendous player and not many people have held him to 10 and 6.."
Alford on the impact of Marshall Strickland's absence:
"He's obviously a key player. Marshall is having a good year. He's very consistent. He shoots the ball well. He runs the team very, very well. We didn't even talk about it to start the game. The guys did a very good job of handling that. We know we've been on the other end. We were without Jeff (Horner) for four games and we've had a couple of years here of not being full-force. Our guys really learned from our own experiences and it didn't matter who was playing for them. We knew we had a job to do tonight."
Random Thoughts…Indiana's last three games have produced the team's three lowest scoring totals of the season and its worst shooting nights as well. After scoring 70 or more points in 12 of its first 13 games, Indiana has scored 62, 62 and 60 in its last three games. That's coincided with the team's three worst shooting efforts as well. Indiana shot 36.7 percent against Iowa, 39.1 percent against Purdue and 40.8 percent against Illinois…In the Hoosiers two Big Ten losses this season, they've allowed Michigan State to shoot 64 percent in the second half and Iowa to shoot 68.8 percent in the game's final 20 minutes.
Upon Further Review…Iowa
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