Rushed Reaction: #4 Indiana 79, #13 New Mexico State 66Posted by rtmsf on March 15th, 2012
Three Key Takeaways.
- Indiana Shredded the NMSU Defense. It was obvious from the opening tip that Indiana was going to get the shots it wanted against the porous New Mexico State defense. What was less clear was whether they’d hit most of them. That question was answered with a blistering 59.3% performance that only got better as the game went on, and was equally effective from both outside (7-13 3FGs) and within the arc (25-41 2FGs). Christian Watford, Cody Zeller, and Will Sheehey each contributed 14 points as the Hoosiers consistently worked the ball to open shooters in the right spots.
- On the Other Hand… Indiana isn’t known as a very good defensive team, and it showed in this game. NMSU hit for a healthy 55.1% against the Hoosier defense, but they were really hurt by their 17 turnovers and the lack of a team leader on the perimeter. We said during the game at one point in the second half that it felt like Indiana had been ahead by a nine-point margin all game long, and it was because IU was able to itself score almost every time down the court, but NMSU was able to hold its own excepting the miscues. This isn’t something that they Hoosiers are going to want to allow VCU to do on Saturday. If they give up easy and open looks to the Rams, they’re be down 20 points before they know what hit them.
- Indiana is On Its Way Back. This is no one-hit wonder. The introduction of Cody Zeller to the lineup this season has converted Indiana from a middling Big Ten program to a pretty good one. The Hoosiers are still not a major player on the national level yet, but they’ve taken the first step by getting to the Dance and winning a game. You can tell that their fans, their players, their coaches and everyone associated with the program believes in it. It’s not Hoosier Hysteria, but it’s not hard to envision that it’s coming.
Star of the Game. Jordan Hulls, Indiana. We gave him a hard time at one point in the first half after he dogged it on a loose ball and let a guy 11 inches taller and 50 pounds heavier out-hustle him for a loose ball, but he had a spectacular night otherwise. It only seemed like he hit everything he threw up at the rim, but he actually missed four shots out of the 12 he attempted as he put together a 22-point, three-assist night.
Quotable. “We’re better for it, and we’re just getting started.” – Tom Crean, answering a question about all the rebuilding that he and his players have gone through in the last four years to get Indiana to a place where it can win an NCAA Tournament game.
Sights & Sounds. What’s better than the traditional Indiana candy stripe warm-up pants? Glad to see the Hoosiers back in the Tournament.
What’s Next? Indiana advances to play Shaka Smart’s VCU Rams on Saturday, which will be a much more equally-matched game than their seeds would indicate. Indiana makes a lot of threes and shoots them at a very high percentage, but as we’ve seen, VCU is really good at forcing teams into zones of discomfort. Can’t wait for this one.