Game MVP - Lance Stemler. Rod Wilmont had his first career double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, but it was Stemler who came off the bench to score 11 first-half points and help the Hoosiers open a 41-21 lead at halftime. Stemler entered the game with IU leading 12-11 at the 13:34 mark, and by the time he returned to the bench eight minutes later IU's margin had ballooned to 15, 35-20. Stemler contributed a trio of 3-pointers, two rebounds and a steal during the stretch to help the Hoosiers pull away from the Leathernecks. On each of his first half 3-pointers he set a screen at the top of the key, then slide over to the wing when Western doubled the ball and knocked down his first three attempts from deep. Stemler finished with 14 points, five rebounds, and four 3-pointers in his 20 minutes of action, and appears to be back to 100 percent after missing the better part of last week with a concussion. He's emerged as Indiana's best 3-point shooter, evidenced by his 50 percent success rate (18-of-36) from behind the 3-point arc this season.
Biggest Surprise… In a game of superlatives, the biggest surprise might have been an acrobatic driving layup Errek Suhr converted midway through the second half, only to have it waved off when IU Coach Kelvin Sampson called a 30-second timeout to get Stemler off the floor. Suhr drove to the bucket and drew contact, and then flipped the ball up over his head and in. But Sampson had quickly called a timeout when he saw Stemler holding his jaw and asking to be subbed out. Stemler's concussion came when he hit his jaw on teammate Xavier Keeling's foot in practice last week. "The reason I called the timeout was a reaction to (Stemler),'' Sampson said. "He said 'Coach, take me out,' and he was holding his jaw. As soon as he did that, I jumped up and called timeout. It just happened to correspond with Errek's shot.''
What I Found Most Impressive… When one considers IU had committed at least 15 turnovers in each of its first six games, the fact it committed only three against Western Illinois is a remarkable improvement. Those three miscues came against 19 assists, giving IU a better than 6-to-1 assist to turnover ratio. Rod Wilmont committed a turnover at the 14:40 mark of the first half, and IU then went 25 minutes before its next miscue – a charge called on Joey Shaw. Indiana's only other turnover came on a 35-second shot clock violation when Errek Suhr couldn't get his shot off before the clock expired. The Hoosiers' ability to protect the ball – coupled with a 43-33 edge in rebounding – helped produce 66 shots compared to only 45 for Western Illinois. IU's primary ball handlers – Earl Calloway, Errek Suhr and Armon Bassett – combined for 11 assists and zero turnovers in a game that IU pushed the pace when it had the opportunity, finishing with 14 fast break points. While it's unlikely IU will be able to duplicate that sort of success in protecting the ball this weekend against Kentucky, it does show the Hoosiers are making significant progress in protecting the basketball.
What I Found Most Concerning… It's hard to find a great deal to be concerned about after a 52-point win that included a season-high 13 3-pointers, a season-best 10 steals and a season-low three turnovers. Indiana did start slowly on the defensive end, allowing Western Illinois to make its first four shots and eight of its first 13, enabling the Leathernecks to be within two, 18-16, midway through the first half. But from there, the Hoosiers' defensive effort picked up – Western Illinois went 1-of-13 to finish the first half and 5-of-32 from the floor the rest of the way and IU cruised to its most lopsided win since they beat Drake 102-46 in 1998.
Turning Point: Indiana turned the 18-16 lead into a 32-18 cushion during a 14-2, 3 ½ minute run midway through the first half. Western Illinois would never again get the lead back down to single digits. Stemler knocked down a pair of 3-pointers during the run and the Hoosiers forced the Leathernecks into three turnovers to blow the game open.
Quotable: "When we came here, I thought it was important that we create an identity – have Indiana basketball be an adjective, not a noun. You can't say okay, this is what we want to be and not practice like that..I do think you achieve what you emphasize. The way we play in practice has to carry over to games. Probably for the first time this year, I've seen that." - IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
"(Turnovers) is an area we had to get better in…the game is hard enough to play when you contribute to your own demise." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
"I thought everyone played aggressive tonight. The way the whistle is now in college basketball, it behooves you to drive the ball. It gets you to the free-throw line. Look at the way they call the game now? It's hard to get to the foul line if you don't drive it. That's an adjustment we've had to make." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
"Look at how many 3s we got tonight off penetration…look at how many times we dribbled in the paint and then kicked it out. Those are the kind of 3s I like. I don't like random 3s. Without going inside out, I don't necessarily like those…unless it's Stemler shooting. I think when he shoots it has a chance to go in." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
Random Thoughts: His stat line of two points, one rebound, 10 minutes and three fouls might not suggest it, but it's clear in my mind that Ben Allen is getting better. He's still struggling with fouls when he's matched up against smaller, more agile big men, but he appears to have a better idea what to do with the ball in the post, and his rebounding is markedly better than it was a year ago…Indiana has out-rebounded its first seven foes, something an IU team hasn't accomplished since the 1994-95 season…Indiana's leading offensive rebounder is…Roderick Wilmont? The 6-4 guard has 17 offensive rebounds, leading D.J. White (15) and Ben Allen (12). Wilmont has back-to-back 10-rebound performances and is now averaging 6.4 rebounds/game, which ranks second on the team to White's 7.7 and ninth in the Big Ten. The only other non-frontcourt player in the league's top 10 in rebounding is Ohio State's Daquan Cook, who is averaging 7.0 rebounds/game.
Upon Further Review - Western Illinois
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