Game MVP - D.J. White. You could make the case for Eric Gordon (29 points), Jamarcus Ellis (12 second-half points, seven rebounds), Lance Stemler (15 points, three 3-pointers) or even Mike White (six rebounds, 20 minutes), but it was White who kept the Hoosiers in the game in the first half with 14 points and seven rebounds. He finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and three blocks while playing a season-high 36 minutes. After the game Coach Kelvin Sampson said two things IU had to do to be successful were get to the free-throw line (White attempted 12 of IU's 38 free throws) and hold its own on the boards (IU out-rebounded Georgia Tech 37-32), and the Hoosier senior was critical in the team's success in both areas.
If it wasn't for White, IU would have found itself in a big hole early on. While Eric Gordon was held scoreless for the game's first 7 ½ minutes and IU committed five turnovers in the game's first four minutes, White scored nine of IU's first 11 points to keep IU within one, 12-11, at the 12:56 mark. While others eventually picked up the scoring slack in the second half, it was White who kept a big Georgia Tech frontline of Jeremis Smith, Alade Aminu, Gani Lawal and Zack Peacock from dominating IU on the glass throughout.
Biggest Surprise… Mike White. After sitting for the season's first five games it appeared the decision had been made to redshirt the 6'6" senior forward. But the Hoosiers' 15-point loss to Xavier revealed the Hoosiers' inexperience and immaturity according to Sampson and prompted him to insert White against Georgia Tech. After taking an elbow to the nose on his very first trip down the court, he responded with a two-point, six-rebound, 20-minute effort that suggests he'll be a mainstay in the team's rotation in the coming weeks. He wrestled many of his minutes away from DeAndre Thomas, who entered the game averaging 8.4 points and 3.2 rebounds but was limited to only two minutes Tuesday.
It doesn't appear this was just a one-game flurry for White, either. Sampson likes his ability to hit the glass, and he had a team-high four offensive rebounds Tuesday. He also provides the experience and maturity that Sampson thought was lacking in the Xavier contest.
What I Found Most Impressive… The Hoosiers got a complete game from Jamarcus Ellis. After averaging just 6.2 points and shooting 12-of-31 in the season's first five games, Ellis had a 15-point, seven-rebound, two-assist effort against Georgia Tech. His first basket of the game was a 3-pointer with five minutes left in the first half that gave IU its first lead since the game's opening minutes, and he then scored 10 of IU's 15 points during a 15-6 second half run that turned a 47-41 deficit into a 56-53 lead with 8:16 remaining. Ellis also got to the free-throw line and was a perfect 6-of-6 after going 5-of-11 in IU's first five games. Ellis continues to lead the team in both rebounding (8.2) and assists (3.5), but he's capable of scoring as well. He showed that Tuesday night.
What I Found Most Concerning… Indiana didn't make things easy on itself with sluggish starts to both halves. Early turnovers landed IU in an eight-point first half deficit, which they eventually overcame to take a four-point halftime lead. That was erased, though, thanks to a 9-0 Georgia Tech run to open the second half. In the first four-minute segments of the two halves (up to the first TV timeout), IU was a combined 2-of-6 from the floor, committed seven turnovers, and was outscored 11-4.
The Hoosiers also had plenty of chances to pull away, but 17 turnovers and 15 Georgia Tech offensive rebounds enabled the Yellow Jackets to stay close. While Indiana was playing with a short bench, this was still a Georgia Tech team that was missing one of its top interior players due to academics (Ra'Sean Dickey) and had two others who were rusty after returning from injury (Maurice Miller, Zack Peacock).
Turning Point: Indiana's 13-4 run in the second half that turned a 49-43 deficit into a 56-53 lead. Ellis scored eight points during that stretch, and Georgia Tech turned the ball over six times. The Yellow Jackets turned it over on four straight possessions at one point. Georgia Tech would rebound and take a one-point lead minutes later, but it was short-lived and IU eventually took command of the contest and opened a lead that reached as many as 10.
Quotable: "We had to win the boards and we had to get to the free-throw line. Those were two areas we had to be good in." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson
"DeAndre Thomas is going to be a good player here. Eli is going to be a good player, so is Brandon and all our freshmen. But you go out against an Xavier team with all those seniors and juniors and a fifth-year point guard. They exposed how inexperienced and immature we were. I said, we just can't go to the transaction wire and get somebody. We have someone sitting right here who can help this team." – Sampson on Mike White
"We thought they weren't getting back, they were trying to press us. We were trying to get into the one-and-one, and by them not being a team that gets back, we tried to be in attack mode with the three guards we had tonight." – Jamarcus Ellis
"We knew we had to come out and attack and never quit. We had to come out and play with a lot of heart. They're a good, athletic team. We had to come out and compete with them." – Lance Stemler
"I think we'll continue to get better. I do think we needed a game like Saturday. I just didn't overreact to that. It's a game, one out of 36. That's not the last game we're going to lose. I don't think anyone is going to go undefeated this year. But a game like Saturday would have been a waste if we hadn't been able to draw something from it." – Kelvin Sampson
"D.J. likes playing against good teams. He's a senior and he has a lot of pride. We were all a little bit embarrassed Saturday night. You lose a game like that, no one hurts more than the players and coaches." - Sampson
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Georgia Tech
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