Upon Further Review: Iowa

Indiana's Big Ten winning streak came to an abrupt and somewhat surprising end Sunday as Iowa whipped the Hoosiers 58-43. Hoosier Nation looks back at IU's loss and talks about what we found to be most impressive, surprising and concerning about the contest. We also name our game MVP…

Game MVP - Christian Watford. Every player had his faults on Sunday, and Watford's 10-point, five-rebound, 4-of-12 shooting effort was hardly one of his best outings of the season. But he did hit a couple of jumpers early in the second half that helped IU get back into the game, and he did manage to hold his own against Iowa power forward Aaron Fuller, who was limited to four rebounds after averaging 9.7 in his last three games.

Biggest Surprise… The two total rebounds for the starting backcourt. Jeremiah Rivers, Verdell Jones and Jordan Hulls entered the game averaging a combined 11.6 rebounds, but that trio totaled only two in 87 minutes Sunday. Iowa, meanwhile, has a good rebounding backcourt as well, and the trio of Cully Payne (5), Matt Gatens (4) and Eric May (4) totaled 13 rebounds 106 minutes of action. Indiana Coach Tom Crean said his team can't be successful if the guards aren't rebounding the basketball, and that was painfully obvious in Sunday's 15-point loss. The Hoosiers don't have a dominant rebounder on the frontcourt and thus rely on the guards to grab their share of the rebounds. That didn't happen Sunday, and it prompted Crean to suggest that he might consider starting three bigs next Saturday against Illinois. Time will tell if that's a move he's ready to make in an effort to get IU off to a better start on the glass, but something has to change as IU moves forward.

What I Found Most Impressive… The crowd turnout. From Indiana's perspective, there wasn't much that unfolded on the court that was very impressive. But the fact that a large percentage of the 16,078 people who bought tickets showed up for Sunday's game is another testament to the support the fan base continues to give the IU program through the rebuilding process. While Indiana officials were able to provide some help by moving the tip-off time from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. to better try to avoid a conflict with the Indianapolis Colts' AFC title game, it was still very much a pick-and-choose situation for any IU fan that lived outside of Bloomington. But by the midway point of the first half most of the students had arrived and Assembly Hall had a buzz to it. Unfortunately for those who did show up IU didn't give them a great deal to cheer about.

What I Found Most Concerning… Indiana had a lack of fight from the opening tip, and it never changed throughout the course of the game. Indiana has had some head-scratching efforts at various times this season, but often it's been for a stretch of a game or for a half. That was what happened in the early going in the loss to Loyola (Md.), and it's what occurred late in league losses to Illinois and Michigan. But this game ended the same way it started – with Iowa taking it to Tom Crean's team. In the game's first 10 minutes, Iowa out-rebounded Indiana 10-2 while building a 10-point lead. Then, in the game's final 10 minutes, Iowa out-rebounded Indiana 13-4 to pull away. The Hoosiers were never able to flip the switch when it came to going toe-to-toe with the Hawkeyes, and the end result was a result that was as disappointing as any this season.

Turning Point: After Verdell Jones hit three straight shots to close Iowa's lead to 33-31 with 13:23 remaining, Iowa ran off seven straight to push the lead back to nine over the next 90 seconds. Six of Iowa's seven points came from wide-bodied reserve big man Brennan Cougill, who knocked down back-to-back wide open 3-pointers on passes from John Lickliter. Cougill doesn't look like a 3-point shooter, and there appeared to be a lack of awareness on the part of IU's defenders in getting out to defend Cougill at the 3-point stripe. But Cougill entered the game having made 10-of-23 from deep this season, and he exited Bloomington with a couple of more makes. Indiana would get no closer than eight the rest of the way.

Quotable:
"I didn't know we (only had three assists). To have three assists and 16 turnovers, that's embarrassing." – Jeremiah Rivers

"As a group, collectively, we have to rebound. I don't know if it's the bigs, I don't know if it's the guards. We don't know who's going to be the rebounds every night, and I think that's the problem. It's so inconsistent. We have to have consistent players step up every night and get rebounds." – Jeremiah Rivers

"For some reason, it seems we go tougher at times in practice than on the court. That's not acceptable for our team. We hit each other, we grind in practice, sweat, blood, all that. We come out in the games, and sometimes it seems, I don't know if we're afraid to hit, I don't know what the deal is. We have to go as hard in games." – Jeremiah Rivers

"We didn't come for a fight today. Iowa had a desperate type of fight to them and we got punched in the mouth and took it. We didn't fight back. You can't explain it. It's an individual and a team thing." – Verdell Jones

"I don't know why we'd overlook any team. We haven't done anything to overlook a team. We won one game in the Big Ten last year, and we've won only three this year. We definitely aren't overlooking anyone." – Jones

"I was concerned coming in because it's a tough place to play. If you're going to win home or road, you've got to execute. Gosh, if you'd have told me we were going to have 21 turnovers and win, I wouldn't have believed you." – Iowa Coach Todd Lickliter

"There were a couple of times where they cut it to two or four, and you would have thought by the reaction of the crowd they were pulling away from us. Our guys were able to weather it." – Lickliter

"I think we were very focused. I could be wrong. I told them this after the game, I would be shocked if we had anyone who was ridiculous enough to overlook Iowa, based on where we are at with this program right now. I would have a real hard time accepting that." – Tom Crean


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