Game MVP - D.J. White. Eric Gordon commands so many headlines with his play, but D.J. White is having one of the best seasons of any big man in the country. White finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds, made 9-of-11 shots from the floor, 8-of-11 from the line, and played a team-high 38 minutes. Northwestern's zone defense dictated that many of the Hoosiers' shots came from behind the 3-point arc (30 of 52 attempts), but when White got his hands on the ball he couldn't be stopped. Often times that came courtesy offensive rebounds, as six of White's game-high 13 rebounds were on the offensive end. White now has 14 double-doubles this season, and he's scored in double figures in 20 out of 21 games.
Biggest Surprise… The decision to start Kyle Taber. Coach Kelvin Sampson has given numerous chances to Mike White, DeAndre Thomas and Lance Stemler to secure their hold on the second forward position, but no one has provided the consistency the IU staff is looking for. As a result, Sampson turned to Taber, the former walk-on who had played only 40 minutes all season before earning 24 against Northwestern. While this decision might serve as a wake-up call to one of the other forwards, it also clearly illustrates IU has no answers at the position right now. While Taber is a hard-worker who earned his starting assignment, the decision was based more on the others lack of productivity than Taber's output. That's a concern considering the calendar now reads February. If Indiana hopes to contend for a Big Ten title and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament it is going to need more production out of the position, and more than likely it's going to need to come from someone other than Taber.
What I Found Most Impressive… Indiana's 39-17 rebounding edge. The Hoosiers have been one of the league's best rebounding teams and Northwestern is clearly the Big Ten's worst, but to out-rebound Carmody's team by 22 is still an impressive stat. Sampson said afterwards that the team's goal was to be +20 on the boards and to get 50 percent of their own misses, and IU did that. Not only was IU +22 on the boards, but it hauled in 60 percent of the possible offensive rebounds (18 of 30).
What I Found Most Concerning… Northwestern picked apart the Hoosiers' man-to-man defense. The Wildcats shot a blistering 14-of-22 in the first half (63.6) percent and were 7-of-9 from behind the 3-point arc. Everyone knows Bill Carmody's team relies on plenty of movement and backcuts to create either lay-ups or wide-open 3-point looks, and they got both in bunches during the game's first 30 minutes. Indiana switched to a zone midway through the second half to try to eliminate the lay-ups and force Northwestern to beat them from behind the 3-point arc, and that strategy worked. Before the defensive switch, Northwestern was 20-of-33 from the floor and had cut the lead to two. But in the game's final 11:43 Northwestern was just 3-of-15. While the defensive switch was critical in helping IU pull away, it's a concern that IU's man-to-man was abused by a Northwestern team that is far from an offensive juggernaut.
Turning Point: After a Kevin Coble lay-up cut the IU lead to two and sent Jamarcus Ellis to the bench with four fouls, the Hoosiers went on a 14-2 run the pull away and avoid a disastrous loss to the Wildcats. Coble's basket was Northwestern's fourth straight without a miss and prompted Indiana to switch to a zone. The result was 11 straight misses from the Wildcats and a game-changing IU flurry. Eric Gordon scored eight of his game-high 29 during the run and showed few ill effects from the left wrist injury that has him wearing some protecting padding and a wrap.
"With Gordon we told (our guys) to be there on the catch because he is that good and his range is very good, and we were just late getting there." – Northwestern Coach Bill Carmody
"I asked him, ‘A.J., are you going to make a shot the rest of the year? If you're not tell us. It's good to know.' Him and Lance. I didn't know if there was a conspiracy with those two guys. I'm kidding. We told those guys, when you're that wide open, just shoot with confidence. We need those two guys to start shooting better for us." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson
"We had a gameplan to be aggressive on the on the offensive boards. We haven't been doing that much lately." – IU senior D.J. White
"We're good penetrators, and we need to make the extra pass and provide for everyone to make easy shots. We shot pretty good, and it went on from there." – IU freshman Eric Gordon
"I can go left. It was just hard the first game back playing on it. But I'm getting used to it. I can go left." – Gordon
Indiana came away with 60 percent of its offensive rebounding opportunities (18 of 30), while Northwestern had only a 19.2 success rate (5 of 26). That's a much better effort for IU on both ends compared to Thursday loss at Wisconsin. Against the Badgers, IU hauled in 28.9 percent of its offensive rebounding opportunities (11 of 38), while Wisconsin got 34.9 percent of its misses (15 of 43)…Northwestern is not only 0-8 in league play, but it has lost all eight of those games by at least 10 points…Kelvin Sampson was a 13-year-old in Laurinburg, N.C., the last time Northwestern won in Bloomington – 1968…the Hoosiers' 30 3-point attempts was a season-high, topping the 28 they launched against Western Carolina. Indiana's 10 makes from behind the 3-point arc, meanwhile, marked the fifth time IU has made double-digit 3s this season (14 vs. Chattanooga, 11 vs. Longwood, Penn State and UConn)…D.J. White and Eric Gordon combined to take a shade less than 50 percent of the team's shots (25 of 52), but they scored nearly 75 percent of the team's points (55 of 75).
Upon Further Review: Northwestern
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