At half time Indiana led 39-29 and had the momentum heading into the second half. Indiana's offense looked crisp, with more movement without the ball. Consistently, the Hoosiers found shooters with open looks and George Leach and Jeff Newton down low for easy baskets.
Then the second half started, and Indiana seemed destined to fold once again at a hostile road environment. The Hawkeyes scored the first seven points of the second half as Indiana made a couple of turnovers and appeared hesitant on offense. The Hawkeye fans could sense another Hoosier collapse as the 15, 130 fans at Carver-Hawkeye Arena rose to their feet to cheer.
Indiana would not collapse; instead Indiana's leaders stepped up on the road for the first time since a December 31st win at Ball State. Bracey Wright made a layup after hitting the boards on a missed jumper by George Leach. The following possession Marshall Strickland drove the ball inside drawing a foul. Iowa came back with a 3-pointer by Brody Boyd, but Tom Coverdale answered with a 3-pointer on the other end, giving Indiana a 51-41 lead.
The Hoosiers did not look back, never letting Iowa get closer than 8 points. Coverdale's shot sent the message that Indiana would not be denied a victory on this night. Coverdale played well throughout the game scoring 17 points while distributing 6 assists. Coverdale managed the offense well and increased his vocal leadership by calling the team together for brief huddles when Iowa was at the free throw line. He also directed traffic for the offense despite playing most of the game at shooting guard.
Indiana's offense flowed well because they were attacking Iowa from the inside and the outside. Indiana played an effective high-low game with Newton finding Leach underneath for several dunks. These dunks were important for Leach, who needed to restore his confidence. After getting involved in the game offensively, Leach becomes more aggressive on defense. He contested most shots Iowa attempted in the paint, blocking four of them. With Newton and Leach both playing aggressively on defense, Indiana is a much better team because they can generate offense from their defense.
Newton delivered another solid performance with 16 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. Newton's consistency has been the one constant in Indiana's lineup throughout the Big Ten season. Although he is not being recognized, quietly Newton is putting together a fantastic season averaging 14.8 points and 8.8 rebounds.
Bracey Wright looked the best he has since injuring his back earlier this season. He did all the little things that make him so important to Indiana's lineup. He was active around the basket, leading the team with 9 rebounds. He shot the ball well and made the play of the game when stopping Iowa's early second half run off an offensive rebound. The Hoosiers need Wright to continue this play; they need him to be a difference maker.
Indiana looked confident shooting the ball all game. Many shooters feel that shooting is contagious, and it certainly was for Indiana on Wednesday. Kyle Hornsby set the tone for Indiana, making his first two 3-pointers. Coverdale and Wright fed off of this shooting to put up excellent numbers themselves. For the game Indiana shot 10-for-21 (48%) from 3-point range.
The Hoosiers shot well because they were finding open shooters who only needed to catch and shoot. Coverdale, Hornsby and Wright all are excellent standstill shooters. They do not shoot as well when coming off of curls as when they can set their feet and shoot. Indiana had these opportunities against Iowa and put up one of its best shooting performances of the Big Ten season.
Can Indiana use this momentum to beat Illinois next Tuesday? Well, Assembly Hall in Champaign is one of the toughest, most hostile arenas in the Big Ten, but if the Hoosiers play like they did tonight they can win. The key will be responding to the runs Illinois makes. Basketball is a game of runs, and Illinois will make a run at some point in the game. Indiana has to fight through these runs and make some runs of its own if they want to challenge the Fighting Illini. A win at Illinois would go a long way towards Indiana getting a bid to the NCAA tournament.
Key stat of the Iowa game: Indiana had only 5 turnovers.
Indiana Gets Needed Road Win
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