Assembly Hall felt depleted.
Compared to a first half where the Hoosiers led the Hawkeyes by as many as 16, now IU was missing shots, turning the ball over and couldn’t keep up with Iowa’s physicality.
With about eight minutes to go, the Hoosiers showed their first sign of life. Senior forward Max Bielfeldt scored to tie the game and then scored again to give IU a 64-61 lead.
The crowd rose to its feet. IU stayed in control for the rest of an eventual 85-78 upset of No. 4 Iowa.
“They’re a great team, very strong, very resilient,” junior forward Collin Hartman said. “I think we showed from top to bottom that we’re maturing as a team.”
The first half and majority of the second looked like two different games. In the opening period, the Hoosiers got out to a 20-10 lead. At that point, six Hoosiers had already scored.
Later in the half, senior guard Nick Zeisloft knocked down his third 3-pointer of the game.
Hartman came up with a block on the other end and then hit one of his own from long range.
The Hoosiers led the fourth-ranked team in the nation by 16.
“Guys like Nick and Rob were making shots from the outside,” senior guard Yogi Ferrell said. “The big thing I thought we needed to do more of this game was move the ball, not have the ball stick so much. I felt like we played through adversity, playing great defense. We just found a way to win.”
IU Coach Tom Crean said Iowa was everything they were made out to be.
All five starters scored in double digits, led by Jarrod Uthoff with 24 points. For much of the game, the Hawkeyes were shooting above 50 percent from the field.
But one thing they didn’t have that the Hoosiers did were contributions from the bench, where IU outscored Iowa 28-0.
Before Thursday’s game, Crean and his team made a point to focus on the Hawkeyes’ depth.
That didn’t turn out to be an issue, just a strength for IU.
Bielfeldt came off the bench to score 10 points, while Zeisloft added nine.
They were able to make up for a subpar performance from Ferrell, who finished 2-of-12, including 2-of-9 from deep.
He was also perfect at the free throw line, converting four of his eight free throws in the game to seal the win.
Even when Ferrell isn’t scoring, he’s making things easier for his teammates. In the past, missing as many shots as he did would’ve affected his game, Crean said.
“The difference with Yogi is he takes (his teammates) with him,” Crean said. “He’s so smart. He really understands the game — and he wants to win badly.”
It was the Hoosiers’ first test against a top-5 team this season.
The crowd became a bigger factor than it has been yet. Crean thought back to when Cody Zeller — who was in attendance for Thursday night’s game — played on Branch McCracken Court.
He said during a game against Michigan State, Zeller had a breakaway layup and the Assembly Hall crowd reached “120 decibels.”
That was the last time Crean remembers Assembly Hall being as loud as it was against Iowa.
“I think that decibel level was broke tonight a couple times,” he said. “It was just excruciatingly loud.”
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