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Friday, Feb. 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

IUBB’s defense propels team to win

IU scored just 26 points in Saturday evening’s first half, shooting a mere 28.6 percent.
These had to be the numbers Iowa dreamed of, products of cold IU shooting that would seemingly leave the Hoosiers ripe for another Big Ten upset.

Yet IU had a double-digit lead.

Iowa scored all of 14 points in the first period of Saturday’s 73-60 IU win at home, the lowest output of an IU opponent all season.

“For us to defend them the way we did tonight and hold them to 14 points in the first half says a lot about our defense, a lot about our resolve,” IU Coach Tom Crean said.

IU’s first half defensive dominance was not predicated on a single Iowa drought, but rather a series small dry spells. Until their final two scores of the half, it took the Hawkeyes at least 2:58 after a basket to score again.

As he has been numerous times this season, junior guard Victor Oladipo was a defensive catalyst for IU early, racking up three steals in the game’s first 2:40.
However, fouls mounted for Oladipo nearly as quickly, and he was limited to just 22 minutes for the game.

Crean said it did not keep him from having an effect on the game, though.

“We didn’t win without Victor,” Crean said. “We just had to play some minutes without him ... they were trying to foul him out and he kept having to play through extended minutes on the bench ... it just so happened that had to play a different game tonight a little.”

Even with four fouls, Oladipo still came through late for IU.

As Iowa mounted a comeback and closed the gap to 10 points with less than three minutes left, Oladipo swiped the ball from a Hawkeye ball handler, then zipped it to junior forward Will Sheehey, who finished with a layup.

Even though IU scored only 26 points in the first  half, IU led in rebounds, steals and nearly every non-shooting offensive category. Shots simply did not fall.

“When you’re getting those stops put together, you’re getting easier baskets and at the same time you’re cutting into the fatigue of the other team and into their confidence level,” Crean said. “Even when the shots aren’t falling, they’re still playing at a very high level.”

The teams’ first contest this season, a 69-65 IU win in Iowa City, Iowa, was no barnburner either. IU kept Iowa to just 25 points in that game, but freshman guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell said the team drew lessons from the win that helped it stymie the Iowa offense Saturday.

“They definitely get the ball out and push,” Ferrell said. “We just wanted to do a better job, especially when we scored, to get back on defense, because I remember in the second half when we played at their place, they had a lot of inside looks on us, and we weren’t getting back.”

Even when both offenses became more effective in the second half, IU never trailed thanks to the cushion its first half defense built.

“The thing that kept us going was our defense,” sophomore forward Cody Zeller said. “We kept getting stops on the defensive end. We struggled at times on our offense but when you’re getting stops you’re going to win.”

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