Indiana Daily Student

Zeisloft helps IU seal win against Rutgers

<p>Junior guard Nick Zeisloft looks to pass the ball during the game against Rutgers on Saturday at Assembly Hall.</p>

Junior guard Nick Zeisloft looks to pass the ball during the game against Rutgers on Saturday at Assembly Hall.

IU Coach Tom Crean doesn’t like to change his starting lineup. He says he places more importance on who plays at the end of games than who starts them.

Because of that, the Hoosiers have played just three different lineups in their first 21 games this season. A suspension and an injury forced those two changes earlier in the season.

But when IU took the floor Saturday against Rutgers, Crean sent out junior guard Nick Zeisloft and sophomore guard Stanford Robinson in place of sophomore forward Troy Williams and freshman guard Robert Johnson.

“I thought it would be good to change it up today,” Crean said.

Zeisloft started the game, but he waited almost 34 minutes to make an appearance.

Two quick fouls forced him to the bench just three minutes into the game and limited him to six minutes in the first half. At halftime, he went into the locker room with just one shot attempt — a long 3-pointer that missed — an assist and those two fouls.

He started the second half on the bench, staying off the stat sheet until IU needed him. The Hoosiers were struggling to put the game away — Zeisloft made it happen.

With just under seven minutes to play, freshman guard James Blackmon Jr. found Zeisloft in the corner. He hadn’t taken a shot since the Hoosiers’ first possession of the game — more than 33 minutes had passed since his last attempt.

It didn’t matter. Zeisloft hit the 3-pointer to give IU the lead. Two minutes later, he made another to all but end the game.

The gap between shots didn’t affect him, he said.

“Coach is always talking about playing on demand, and you’ve got to be ready to take that shot at anytime,” he said.

Zeisloft has had to adjust to a different role this season, his first at IU. He’s become IU’s premier spot-up shooter off the bench, attempting more than four 3-pointers in just 19 minutes per game. He’s attempted just 10 2-point shots this season and 15 free throws.

Crean said he was confident in Zeisloft’s ability to make those shots Saturday, but added he’s continuing to push the junior guard to become more than a shooting specialist.

“We could’ve come down and Nick probably could’ve knocked that down three, four, maybe five times,” Crean said. “What we want him to be is continue to be a complete player ... The only thing I ever say to him about his shot sometimes is time and score and where his body’s at, his footwork. Even great shooters need a reminder now and then.”

With 20 seconds to play on Saturday, IU led by four. One more stop and the game was over. Sophomore forward Troy Williams corralled a defensive rebound and threw an outlet pass to Zeisloft at the other end of the floor.

Zeisloft slowed around the 3-point line. Rutgers fouled, and he stepped to the line for two shots. He made both to ice the game.

On the next possession, Rutgers took a desperation 3-pointer that clanged hard off the rim. Zeisloft grabbed the rebound, covered the ball with both arms and jogged to center court as the buzzer sounded.

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