Indiana Grinds Things Out in Battle of Leading Freshmen

Posted by Brendan Brody on January 10th, 2015

Coming into Saturday’s game between Ohio State and Indiana, both teams were the top two in terms of points per game in the B1G. So in a season that arguably makes less sense as time goes forward, of course these two perimeter juggernauts combined to shoot 7-for-39 from deep. Matchups between two top point guards, and between two of the best freshmen perimeter players in the land did not really materialize. Instead Indiana was able to forget the fact that their shots weren’t falling, by simply being the tougher team. Despite their small size, they enjoyed a 48-39 advantage on the boards. Unheralded bench contributors  like Emmitt Holt and Collin Hartman seemingly made all of the hustle plays that in the end added up to a great win for the Hoosiers. While some of the head-to-head battles never really came into play, here’s a couple of areas that Indiana was able to win on their way to a 69-66 victory.

Troy Williams notched a double-double as Indiana held off Ohio State Saturday in Bloomington.  (Chris Howell/Herald Times)

Troy Williams notched a double-double as Indiana held off Ohio State Saturday in Bloomington. (Chris Howell/Herald Times)

  • Troy Williams-Sam Thompson/Mark Loving: Williams was the best player on the floor, and it wasn’t just because he had 2-3 plays that could end up on Sportscenter’s top 10. The Hoosiers could have very well been lack-luster in the energy department with so many of their outside shots not falling. Instead, they kept up the intensity on the defensive end of the floor, and especially on the boards. Williams was the ringleader on both accounts, grabbing 12 rebounds on the day and not allowing Loving to really get going. Indiana switched in and out of zone all day, so he didn’t necessarily lock one specific person down. But the energy,hustle, rebounding, and timely passing (team-high three assists) swung the game.

  • Bench Production: It was mentioned already, but Holt and Hartman were outstanding in the second half. The duo combined for 13 rebounds and five blocks, with Hartman tying  a season-high 24 minutes. The ineffectiveness of Amir Williams and Haner Mosquera-Perea made this one a battle of going small, and Indiana fared better when Ohio State left all of their size on the bench for most of the game. Ohio State got zero production from Trey McDonald, Anthony Lee, and Kam Williams, with Jae’Sean Tate really the only bench player making any impact. Nick Zeisloft also shook off a recent shooting slump to hit both of his three-point attempts, scoring eight points in the game’s first nine minutes.
  • James Blackmon Jr-D’Angelo Russell: Both Freshmen of the Year candidates went 1-for-5 from deep, but Blackmon Jr was able to get into the lane once he found out things weren’t working from the perimeter. He only had two points at the intermission, but went on to finish with 18 for the game. Russell was able to still come up with eight rebounds, two steals, and two blocks, but his 3-for-15 on field goals did a great deal to limit the Buckeyes on the offensive end. Both showed that they can find other ways to contribute when their shots aren’t falling, so give them credit. But Blackmon Jr. gets the slight nod in the first of possibly many battles between the two in their college and professional careers.
Brendan Brody (307 Posts)

Brendan Brody is in his fourth season covering the Big Ten for RTC. Email him at, or follow him on twitter @berndon4.

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