Indiana Daily Student

IU must be strong on glass

The IU men’s basketball team has come a long way since Big Ten play began on Dec. 31, 2012, in Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

IU entered its first matchup of the season with the Hawkeyes, the No. 5 team in the country, still trying to claw its way back to the top of the polls after losing to unranked Butler on a neutral court a couple weeks prior, falling from the No. 1 status it had held all season.

And though the polls will not change until next week’s votes from the AP and NCAA coaches are finalized, keeping IU as the top team in the country for at least three more days, the Hoosiers enter Saturday’s matchup against Iowa at Assembly Hall again with something to prove.

Just two wins away from clinching at least a share of the Big Ten regular season title, with the possibility of clinching it outright with a win over Ohio State on senior night March 5, the Hoosiers faltered on the road against unranked Minnesota.

They lost 77-73 while getting out-rebounded by the Golden Gophers’ length and strength inside the paint 44-30.

Minnesota didn’t light up the nets in The Barn, only mustering a 42.9 field goal percentage, including shooting just 4-of-20 from beyond the arc.

Yet, with 23 offensive rebounds and 44 total rebounds, the Golden Gophers simply created more opportunities than the Hoosiers, shooting 11 more shots than IU to steal the four-point margin of victory.

In their first matchup against the Hawkeyes, the Hoosiers were able to out-rebound Iowa both on the offensive and defensive end, but the Hawkeyes currently stand second in the conference in total rebounds per game at 39.4.

Iowa ranks third in the Big Ten with 13 offensive rebounds per game and second in the defensive category at 26.4 per game.

Yet Aaron White, Iowa’s leading rebounder, sits outside the top 10 in the conference  for total rebounds a game, and Iowa doesn’t have anyone else in the top 20. Instead, they have six players averaging at least 3.5 rebounds per game.

Tuesday against Minnesota, IU gave up at least four rebounds to five separate Golden Gopher players, including 12 to Trevor Mbakwe. IU’s top rebounding threats, sophomore forward Cody Zeller, senior forward Christian Watford and junior guard Victor Oladipo, who average to combine for 20.5 rebounds per game so far this season, managed to pull down just 14.

In order to avoid another scare — or even another loss to an unranked opponent — the Hoosiers will look to improve on Tuesday’s rebounding performance against Iowa’s stout roster of five players standing 6 feet, 8 inches or taller.

On Tuesday, IU Coach Tom Crean said rebounding was the only thing keeping the Hoosiers from a tough road victory, and possibly having this last regular season home stretch clinch an outright Big Ten title.

“There is nothing more glaring than rebounds,” Crean said. “That was our biggest issue, the fact that we had six offensive rebounds at half and got four in the second half. (Minnesota) got nine (offensive rebounds) in the first half and 14 in the second half. (Rebounding) was the difference.”

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