Upon Further Review: Northwestern

HoosierNation.com takes a look back at Indiana's 69-65 win at Northwestern last night. We name the Hoosiers' game MVP, look at what were some of the most concerning, impressive and surprising things to come out of the game and hear what the coaches had to say afterwards...

Hoosier MVP - There's little room for debate, as Roderick Wilmont carried the Hoosiers by setting career-highs for points (31) and rebounds (12) while also establishing a new school record with nine 3-pointers. While D.J. White took a half to get untracked and Earl Calloway was relatively ineffective in his first game action in two weeks, Wilmont was dominant from opening tip until the final horn. He hit his first 3-pointer 3 ½ minutes in to put IU up 6-2, then closed the half with three 3-pointers in the final 1:30 – including one at the buzzer – to send IU into the locker room up four, 32-28. He didn't slow down in the second half, knocking down five more 3-pointers to break the school mark previously shared by Steve Alford, Jay Edwards, Brian Evans, Neil Reed and Robert Vaden. But it wasn't only his marksmanship from deep that was key to IU's success. He added 12 rebounds, including four of IU's 16 off the offensive glass. During a one-minute stretch late in the second half he hit his ninth 3-pointer to put IU up eight, then came up with an offensive rebound and putback basket on IU's next possession to extend the lead to 10. The next time down the floor, he found D.J. White cutting to the bucket for a conventional 3-point play that gave IU its biggest lead, 63-52, with 2:42 left.

Biggest Surprise… IU's bench was pretty much a non-factor. Indiana has gotten big games from its reserves more often than not, but the Hoosiers played only three off the bench Wednesday, and Joey Shaw was the only one of the three to play double-digit minutes (15). Errek Suhr, Shaw and Calloway combined for more turnovers (5) than points (4), and both Suhr and Shaw missed the front ends of one-and-ones in the final minute that contributed to Northwestern having a chance in the closing seconds to send the game to overtime. Ben Allen, Mike White and Xavier Keeling, meanwhile, didn't see any action. A big part of that was the fact Northwestern doesn't have any stereotypical "bangers" in the paint, instead going to more rangy, athletic players such as Kevin Coble and Jeff Ryan, both of whom would have been tough defensive assignments for any of IU's primary frontcourt reserves.

What I Found Most Impressive… Rod Wilmont's performance was the most dominant offensive display put on by any Hoosier this season. D.J. White has six 20-point outings this season and Armon Bassett had a huge 25-point outing over the weekend against Michigan State, but Wilmont's 3-point barrage was the best of the bunch. Many of his 3-pointers came at critical times, including the halftime buzzer beater that gave IU some much-needed momentum, and his eighth 3-pointer came with the shot clock set to expire and with the Hoosiers leading by only four. And Wilmont did all of this only four days removed from his zero-point, 0-of-6 shooting performance at the Breslin Center in East Lansing.

What I Found Most Concerning… IU turned the ball over 17 times, including a handful of careless miscues that gave the Wildcats a chance in the final seconds. IU had three successive turnovers in the closing minutes that made the game a little too close for comfort. The most glaring of the miscues were one from Armon Bassett when he was picked from behind by Tim Doyle who was trailing on a play with IU leading by 11, and then moments later Doyle reached around A.J. Ratliff in the backcourt and tipped the ball away from the IU junior and then scored to cut the IU lead to five. But those weren't the only careless miscues for Sampson's squad against the Northwestern zone. Ratliff had a team-high five turnovers, and Earl Calloway had a couple of miscues of his own in nine minutes. Calloway would have had a third on a careless bounce pass that Doyle picked off, but IU maintained possession when Doyle was tied up for a jump ball. Wilmont's heroics helped IU overcome the miscues, but better ball security will be a must when the Hoosiers play in Chicago next week.

Turning Point: In a one-minute stretch, Wilmont hit a 3-pointer to put IU up eight, then scored on a rebound basket to extend the lead to 10, and on IU's next possession zipped a pass to D.J. White for a lay-up and free throw that put the Hoosiers up 11 with 2:42 remaining. Northwestern whittled the lead down thanks to some IU turnovers and some suspect IU free throw shooting, but that Wilmont-orchestrated stretch provided just enough of a cushion.

Quotable: "Obviously the star for us tonight was [Roderick] Wilmont…we knew we were going to have to make threes. If you look at all the games Northwestern has lost at home, somebody from the other team has kind of gone off from the three-point line. I think [David] Teague made six threes in the last game. Rod [Wilmont] makes nine tonight. I had one kid make nine in a game. Hollis Price at Iowa State one year. Rod's shooting was a big part of our offense but I thought Rod's courage was a big part of why we got this win today." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.

"Even though Earl Calloway was kind of a non-factor I was glad he got out there tonight. He probably played a little bit better for Northwestern than he did for Indiana tonight but we need his presence. We don't have a lot of creating guards... I think getting Earl back tonight regardless of how he plays, I just think it'll help him in practice, I think it'll help our team this weekend against Penn State and then next week at the Big Ten Tournament. It just helps us to get him back out there. He'll get better as we go. " – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.

"All of the teams in that (Big Ten) pack are all pretty good. None of them are great. It would be unfair to compare the rest of us to Ohio State and Wisconsin. I don't think many teams in the country can compare with those guys. Maybe only a select few. I've been in this thing so many years and competed in this (NCAA) tournament so many times. It's supposed to be the best 64 teams. You can't tell me that we don't have six teams in our league that are among the best 64 teams in the country this year." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson.

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