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Monday, March 4
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Oladipo, press defense key to IU win

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Sloppy play in the first half gave way to the expected fastbreak battle Saturday evening in Assembly Hall as IU outraced Coppin State in a 87-51 win.

Victor Oladipo led the charge.

The junior guard had 14 points, six assists, six rebounds and was the catalyst for a second-half run that put the game to bed after a first half that was close at times.

“We’re human,” Oladipo said. “We’re not perfect. We didn’t have a great start, but I thought we played well defensively the whole game. We did a good job of turning it up in the second half.”

Starting with a layup by sophomore guard Remy Abell 4:29 into the period, Oladipo either scored or assisted on 14 consecutive IU points.

By the end of the run, IU led 56-31.

Even on the basket before that trend began, it was Oladipo’s miss at the rim that set the stage for a dunk by junior forward Will Sheehey seconds later.

The shots were not falling for the Hoosiers early, though.

They did not score a field goal until 5:33 into the game, missing their first nine shots from the field, five of which came from 3-point range.

Meanwhile, the Eagles cruised to a 9-2 lead, with IU’s only points coming from free throws by sophomore center Cody Zeller.

IU finally broke the drought on a contested layup by senior forward Christian Watford that netted the team a successful and-one opportunity.

“Even at the beginning when shots weren’t going and we were having some turnovers, they were playing extremely hard,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “There were no concerns.”

IU produced a 17-4 run in the 7:18 after its seven-point deficit. Watford and Sheehey produced 13 of the 17 points in that span.

The Eagles came within three points of the Hoosiers, but IU showcased its athleticism in building the lead up to a 14-point halftime margin.

The team did not commit a single turnover in the half’s final 10:32 as it adjusted to the zone defense employed by Coppin State Coach Ron “Fang” Mitchell.

“Before we started, we were concerned with their transition and how they get up and down the floor,” Mitchell said. “We had control early, but we’re a young team, and it’s hard to keep that going and maintain that tempo.”

Crean instituted some defensive nuances of his own as the team switched to a nearly full-court press defense late in the first half.

At halftime, the team changed to a more free-flowing overall gameplan.

Crean said the team had practiced such tactics before, but they walked through it in an Assembly Hall hallway at halftime as a refresher.

“We cleared out the hallway instead of going back to the gym because it would have taken too long and walked through what we wanted to do,” Crean said. “They were very alert and attentive, and it was quick.”

The teams largely traded baskets in the second half before Oladipo led the scoring spree to put the game out of reach for the Eagles.

After its 0-for-9 start, IU shot 31-of-51 the rest of the way.

Oladipo and Sheehey led the Hoosiers with 14 points apiece as both scoring and rebounding efforts were balanced across the team.

Near the forefront of both, though, was Oladipo.

In addition to his points and rebounds, Oladipo set a benchmark in deflections, a favorite statistic of Crean, with 20. It was the highest mark posted by a player in the Crean era at IU and second only to Dwyane Wade among Crean-coached players.

“It started in the beginning with Vic, who ended up having 20 deflections tonight, which is a high for us at Indiana and an individual high for him,” Crean said. “But our guys just never stopped competing.”

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