Indiana was the only team in the Big Ten to open conference play with consecutive road games. While the Hoosiers didn’t play the league’s elite teams in those contests, IU (14-1, 2-0) did take care of business first against Iowa on New Year’s Eve, then Monday in a 74-51 victory over Penn State.
Jordan Hulls, who was held scoreless in the win against the Hawkeyes, connected on an early three-pointer to give the Hoosiers a 15-3 lead and the Nittany Lions (8-6, 0-2) would never seriously threaten as Indiana led 44-27 at halftime. Christian Watford led all scorers with 16 points, while Cody Zeller contributed 15 and Hulls added 14.
The following post-game comments from IU head coach Tom Crean are courtesy of IUHoosiers.com:
Tom Crean, Head Coach
On getting a second-straight road win:
“These guys were absolutely committed to getting it. Tom Hamilton, the BTN announcer who’s a great guy and did one of the first TV games I ever coached in back at Marquette in 1999, he said after the game in 20 years of broadcasting he hadn’t seen a walk through like we had today. I don’t want anybody to take that for granted in our program because that’s how they work. They come out with a mindset, they come out with an edge and for us to hold this team to under 32 percent in a 40 minute game. We had 24 deflections at half and we came back and got 56 for the game. So to me, we had a few turnovers, we missed some free throws, but the bottom line is we defended. D.J. Newbill is a tremendous player, going to be a great player in this league – (Kevin) Yogi Ferrell got the task there and holds him to 3-of-15. Some other guys stepped up and made some plays. These guys really did a great job of coming in and getting a road win and making defense the forefront of everything they did.”
On making Penn State’s guards uncomfortable:
“That’s big. We had a game plan and our guys were really locked into it. What I told them, and I know I’ve got to be knocking on wood especially with the game coming up on Saturday, but this is the best that they’ve talked all year. They talked as well in the second half as they did in the first half. And what we’re getting right now is a what you want a team to have is a lot of conversations. And they can even be a little bit demanding on each other. We were a little too quiet on some of the missed free throws where we didn’t get after one another and put a little challenge on one another. It’s okay to help a teammate and to constructively give them something without being critical, but that the same time, don’t get quiet because you’re worried about someone is going to react. It’s a game of reaction. It’s a game of awareness. That communication and dialogue and those conversations going on inside the game really helped us get better tonight. And for us to come on the road and do that is something that means a lot to me because that’s showing a maturity that we haven’t always had.”
On the early turnovers in the second half:
“We were going so fast and we weren’t trusting some of the things that we do. We were out running. And it wasn’t like their transition defense was stopping us, is was our passing and we got away from some of our side pick-and-roll, we were almost running a 3-on-2 fast break drill rather than a just an absolute get out and fly up and down that court. We weren’t doing that as well and we weren’t getting into our side pick-and-roll which didn’t allow us to get into the post as fast. We just had a couple of mistakes. The thing I liked is that we weren’t letting them score either and we held them to 24 points in the second half. I thought was really important.”
The victory over Penn State sets up a highly anticipated match-up with 8th-ranked Minnesota Saturday at Assembly Hall. The Golden Gophers beat Indiana in Bloomington last season.