Jeff Newton sent a message early in Saturday's game against Illinois. After making his first jumper, Brian Cook posted up Newton inside and threw up a baby hook. Newton sent it back rejecting his first of five blocks on the night.
However, Newton was much more than just a defensive presence against Illinois; he was Indiana's leader. Indiana's entire offense ran through Newton. He was the main force for IU all game. He showed the complete package making jumpers on the perimeter while also posting up inside. He scored a career high 28 points, pulled down 8 rebounds and was too much for the Fighting Illini to handle.
Cook entered the game on a tear, playing some of the best basketball in the country. He was not effective against Newton partly because of limited playing time due to foul trouble. Cook fouled out with 4:59 remaining with his team trailing IU 61-52. He scored 15 points on 7-for-17 shooting and 10 points fewer than his average. Cook's foul trouble was the result of Indiana pounding the ball inside and playing aggressively.
Indiana played a completely different style of game from the one Illinois saw last season when IU set a Big Ten record by nailing 17 3-pointers. The Hoosiers struggled from the perimeter shooting 4-for-19 from behind the arc, but their struggles from deep did not disrupt their offensive rhythm. IU did not settle for 3-pointers, looking to get the ball inside first.
By attacking inside rather than playing passively from the perimeter, Indiana pounded the Fighting Illini on the boards outrebounding them 45-32. George Leach also played well inside looking for his shot much more. Leach had 8 points, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks for Indiana.
After Cook fouled out, Indiana built its lead to 65-52. Sean Kline delivered buckets on two strong moves inside, but Illinois would not go away. Illinois scored 7 straight points of their own, cutting the lead to 65-59. Indiana turned to Newton who slammed down a dunk with 2:01 remaining. Then Donald Perry and Newton sealed the game at the free throw line giving Indiana its third win out of four games for the season. Illinois drops to 2-2 in the big ten.
The Hoosiers proved they can win not only with their perimeter game but also with their inside attack. Tom Coverdale and Kyle Hornsby combined to shoot 3-for-17 for 7 points and Bracey Wright missed his second straight game with a pinched nerve in his back.
Despite getting 7 points out of their starting backcourt, Indiana won the game against a good team. When Bracey Wright returns the team can build upon two wins without their leading scorer. IU will be difficult to defend if they can continue to produce inside with their talented guards on the perimeter.
Indiana's hosts Ohio State on Tuesday, January 21st before going through their toughest stretch of the season. IU plays four straight road games including a trip to Mackey Arena on January 25th. The stretch road games could make or break IU's chances at winning the Big Ten championship.
Newton outplays Cook in showdown
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