Game MVP - Lance Stemler. IU Coach Kelvin Sampson knew what he was talking about when he told Stemler in the locker room before the game's start that he was going to have a big outing. The 6-8, 205-pound junior proved his coach right, posting career-highs of 21 points and nine rebounds while knocking down 7-of-10 shots and 3-of-6 3-pointers. Stemler was just 1-of-15 shooting in his last three games, but scored on a short transition jumper 2 ½ minutes into the game to get on the board, then ended a three-game streak without a 3-pointer when he hit one from the corner with 3:12 left in the first half that put IU up 40-22. Stemler was obviously statistically productive, but he also played with the kind of energy IU needed against an IUPUI team that has long waited for the chance to play the Hoosiers. He came up with one offensive rebound midway through the first half where he dove on the floor and called a timeout, then five minutes later snared a runaway ball and flipped it back off an IUPUI player while he was going out of bounds. That sort of effort hasn't been lacking from Stemler, but Friday he added the offensive productivity to go with it.
Biggest Surprise… Indiana was the hungrier team, not IUPUI. That's a significant accomplishment for the IU coaching staff to get the team to play with that kind of energy against a team that has been looking forward to this game all season. IUPUI wasn't a big-name on the Hoosiers schedule by any means, and they were also playing without their best player, guard George Hill, which would have made it easy for IU to come out a little flat. That didn't happen. Indiana came away with a 29-point win on the scoreboard, but they also held a decided advantage over the Jaguars in hustle plays and emotion on the floor. A big reason why IUPUI never got going was because IU took them out of the game early. Four different Hoosiers scored in the first 3 ½ minutes to open a 10-0 lead, and that they were never threatened again.
What I Found Most Impressive… I try to avoid picking the same thing two games in a row, but Armon Bassett continues to impress in a big way. Bassett established a new career-high with 20 points while going 7-of-10 from the floor, including a team-high four 3-pointers. But he's doing more than knocking down shots from the perimeter. Bassett penetrated and created opportunities for his teammates as well. He finished with a team-high five assists, including a feed to Ben Allen for a layup in the first half and another to D.J. White for a huge second-half dunk that put IU up 61-38 with 12:48 remaining. Defensively, Sampson singled him out for the improvement he's made, saying he may have improved in that area during the season's first two months than any player he's ever coached. He gives Sampson and his staff plenty of versatility because he's able to play either guard position. He's only 11 games into his IU career, but the Terre Haute native looks like he has a chance to be a special player.
What I Found Most Concerning… There wasn't much that didn't go IU's way, but D.J. White did pick up a couple of quick fouls in the first half that sent him to the bench. His absence was brief and didn't have any significant impact on the game's outcome, but the Big Ten is just around the corner and the Hoosiers can ill-afford to have White on the sidelines. White and Ben Allen are the team's only two big bodies who are well equipped to defend big men in the paint, and Allen isn't the same sort of shot-blocking presence that White is. The same goes for offense, where White is clearly the team's best at creating scoring opportunities either for himself or others when he has the ball with his back to the basket. He needs to avoid the sort of careless fouls that will land in foul trouble and subsequently land his team in trouble against good Big Ten big men.
Turning Point: Indiana hit its first four shots of the game, IUPUI missed its first four attempts, and for all intents and purposes, the game was over soon afterwards. IUPUI was forced to call a 30 second timeout just 2 ½ minutes in after that spurt resulted in an 8-0 lead, but that did little to slow the Hoosiers down. The cushion quickly ballooned to 15-2 2 ½ minutes later.
Quotable: "There was a big emphasis on offensive rebounding (IU had 15)... if you play 10, 20, 30 games you are going to have two or three games in there that are going to be donuts where it is not going to happen. If you think we are going to out-rebound every single opponent, sharp as a knife every single night, I have a newsflash for you - that is not going to happen." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
"If Lance (Stemler) had missed every shot tonight I would have thought he was great. Like the Kentucky game - I thought he was outstanding in the Kentucky game. But we live in a society that judges your production based on whether you score points or not. Lance Stemler was outstanding in every area tonight, he just happened to make shots. That was icing on the cake." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
"Earl (Calloway's) point guard play - you go back to everything he has been through up to this point, it was all necessary. Everything he has gone through this year has made him what he is today. Earl is a good point guard. He wasn't a month ago but he is now." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
"We are going to keep getting better - it is just evolution. Everybody wants you to be great this next game but it doesn't work that way. You have to be patient, especially with a new bunch, a new coach and a new system. We try to pick out one or two things every practice to be really good at and hope you can maintain the areas that you are doing good. Now we are just putting some things together." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.
Upon Further Review - IUPUI
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