Game MVP - Eric Gordon. The Hoosier freshman put his full array of skills on display Wednesday in a 17-point performance. He failed to make at least one 3-pointer for just the third time this season, but was 7-of-8 on his attempts inside the arc. Gordon brought the crowd to their feet with a couple of transition dunks, and also served up a couple of assists to D.J. White for some crowd-pleasing dunks as well. Gordon was on his game early, having a hand in 12 straight points during a 14-3 run that gave the Hoosiers a 14-7 lead. Gordon scored seven straight points during the flurry, then added assists on buckets by White and Armon Bassett. In the second half, Gordon helped lead an IU defensive effort that limited the Hawkeyes to 21 percent shooting and 17 points by coming up with three blocks on attempted layups by Tony Freeman, who was limited to 2-of-8 shooting and committed three turnovers in the second half.
Biggest Surprise… DeAndre Thomas being in the starting lineup. Thomas didn't play at all in the second half of the win over Penn State, but wound up making his first start since the loss to Xavier. Thomas finished with two points, two rebounds and four turnovers in 19 minutes, so it's a possibility Sampson might turn to someone else this weekend against Connecticut. Early on Thomas took a couple of ill-advised shots, including a double-pump jumper that had Sampson frustrated along the sidelines. But Thomas did bring a big body that he used against Iowa's frontline of Seth Gorney and Cyrus Tate, and he also brings plenty of energy to the court as well. It's clear the Hoosier staff is still trying to figure out what to do with the second post position, as Thomas, Lance Stemler and Mike White have each seen their playing time fluctuate a great deal all season. Each brings something a little different to the lineup, and their playing time might wind up being a result of match-ups more than anything else.
What I Found Most Impressive… Indiana limited Iowa to 43 points, the fewest points scored by a Big Ten foe against IU since March 12, 1993 (Wisconsin). This is the same Iowa team that scored 76 three weeks ago in a 79-76 IU win in Iowa City, but this time around the Hawkeyes couldn't get anything going. The Hoosiers limited Iowa to 34 percent shooting overall and forced Coach Todd Lickliter's team into 20 turnovers. The Hawkeyes' two biggest weapons – Tony Freeman and Justin Johnson – combined to go 6-of-19 from the floor and committed nine turnovers. Gordon spent much of the night against Freeman, while Jamarcus Ellis didn't allow Johnson to get a shot off until 10 minutes into the game (a made 3-pointer), and didn't permit Johnson to make another field goal attempt the rest of the night. After a Cyrus Tate dunk cut IU's lead to 46-35 with 13:26 remaining, Indiana forced the Hawkeyes into four turnovers and 11 missed shots over the next eight minutes, resulting in a 20-point Hoosier lead.
What I Found Most Concerning… The Hoosiers just haven't been able to figure out a way to get A.J. Ratliff untracked. Ratliff went scoreless in six minutes of action, and has now failed to score a point in each of IU's last three games and has played a combined 13 minutes. While he's not playing much for a player who averaged close to double figures a year ago, Ratliff didn't do much against Iowa to earn more playing time. Upon entering with under three minutes remaining in the first half he immediately allowed Justin Johnson to beat him on a cut to the basket, and Ratliff was forced to foul and sent him to the line. Ratliff's limited role doesn't come as a huge surprise considering the arrival of Eric Gordon, the emergence of Jordan Crawford and Ratliff's absence during the first semester due to academics. With the schedule getting ready to become more difficult, it's hard to imagine Ratliff's role expanding a great deal.
Turning Point: Indiana went on a 9-2 run to close the first half, which opened an 11-point lead. Iowa would prove unable to cut the lead to single digits the entire second half. D.J. White got the run started with a thunderous dunk on a feed from Gordon, and Bassett followed with a 3-pointer after an Iowa turnover. After a pair of Justin Johnson free throws, D.J. White putback a missed dunk by Crawford, and DeAndre Thomas closed the first half scoring with a 10-foot floater in the lane that extended the IU lead to 11.
"Just get better. What we are doing. Defense, decision making, shot selection...there is not an area that we haven't improved in. The way we run our offense now, it is familiarity. When you have a lot of kids that are accustomed to being the go-to guy; it takes them awhile to filter into a role. We play our roles better now than we did earlier. I still think this team is going to continue to improve.." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson
"Well, you have to ask yourself `Did they cause (the turnovers) or did we make them?' I'm a believer that if you are on the ball and you stay in a stance and stay focused on the task at hand, you can avoid that (the turnovers). I have watched it. I sat right where I sat tonight and I watched teams throw every kind of defense imaginable and our guys were able to handle that." – Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter on his team's 20 turnovers
"It's virtually impossible to guard Gordon on the perimeter and in the open court, and if he's not the best player in the nation then he's one of them. And then D.J. White is one of the best post players in the nation. But they are not alone. (Armon) Bassett made big shots and (Jamarcus) Ellis has great skills and the list goes on. They have a nice combination of players, there is no question about that." - Lickliter.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW: Iowa
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