Photo courtesy of IU Athletics
IUSC’s Drew LaMontagna takes a look at whoâ€™s stock is up, and whoâ€™s is down in Bloomington as the Hoosiers enter Big Ten play.
On his 22nd birthday, the senior went off from beyond the arc, particularly in the second half. Roth, who was averaging just 2.4 points per game coming into Thursdayâ€™s contest, was good for 14, connecting on four of five from deep. One of which that was â€œin a different zip code,â€ according to ESPN color commentator Perry Clark.
Roth enjoyed his most successful game of the season. With Sheehey, Elston, and now Jones out for an extended period of time, expect Tom Creanâ€™s Jimmer, if you will, to see a greater amount of playing time. Plain and simple: Roth can shoot, my friends.
In the first half, Watford might have ended up in my â€˜fallingâ€™ category, but he came out as hot as anyone in the second half. I donâ€™t know what Tom Crean said to the junior at halftime, but whatever it was, it worked.
Watford went off for 22 points, his highest total of the season. After going â€˜oh-ferâ€™ from three in the first half (along with the rest of his team aside from Hulls), Watford realized where his home was, and went three-for-three from â€œThe Kentucky Spot.â€ He added to this with another tre-ball from near the top of the key to contribute to a team stat of nine of 13 from outside the arc.
With his 22 points Thursday night, Watford moved into 44th place on the all-time Hoosier scoring list, surpassing former NBA superstar and IU Legend, Isiah Thomas. Watford also chipped in nine rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one blocked shot.
If Watford plays like he did in the second half against conference teams, Indiana will continue to put up big numbers despite tougher opponents. Donâ€™t believe me? See Kentucky game. (20 points)
I usually only do two of each category, but I just couldnâ€™t leave Mr. Bloomington out of here. Hulls was one of the few bright spots in the first half, accounting for both of IUâ€™s lone two scores from deep (2-14). Say what you want, but to me Jordy Hulls is the leader of this team. How often do you see him gathering the rest of his team after a foul or miscommunication to talk things over? Look for it next time IU takes the court – itâ€™s impressive.
Above I wrote that Roth is Tom Creanâ€™s Jimmer. I made a mistake, Hulls is. A three for Hulls is like an uncontested dunk for Oladipo. This game wasnâ€™t the best example of it (3-7 from deep), but anyone that has watched a decent amount of Indiana basketball over the past two and one half years knows this. Overall, the junior guard contributed 16 points, second to Watfordâ€™s 22.
Verdell Jones III
Before leaving the game at the end of the first half with a hip flexor injury, Jones looked terrible. He started the game by missing two wide-open threes, and then followed that up by ducking his head into his chest and contributing one of his three turnovers. He finished the game one for five and a total of three points.
Jones just doesnâ€™t look good as the point guard right now, and itâ€™s games (or halves) like this where Indiana fans are excited for his departure, along with top recruit, Yogi Ferrellâ€™s arrival. Crean said after the game that Verdell is day to day at this point, but if he misses the start of conference play at Michigan State on the 28th, expect freshman Remy Abell to see increased playing time at the point.
With the injuries to Sheehey and Elston coming into the game, I was looking forward to seeing what the freshman would do with his increased playing time.
To my disappointment, it wasnâ€™t much.
Abell seemed just a little bit overwhelmed handling the point, which didnâ€™t necessarily surprise me that much. This guy needs the experience, and it is going to come with some growing pains.
Aside from Hulls next year, Abell, along with Yogi Ferrell are going to share time at this position, so some extra minutes in these next few games will do the kid some good. My only concern is when he faces stiffer opponents, or anyone in the Big Ten for that matter. Regardless, although I have Abell in this category, I fully expect him to get better each and every game under Tom Crean.
Rest in peace, Jordan Hullsâ€™ free throw record. The miss came after UMBC Head Coach, Randy Monroe, got a technical after a Cody Zeller dunk. Hulls was sent to the line, and to everyoneâ€™s shock, missed. The streak ended at 58, and needless to say, Hulls wasnâ€™t happy.
â€œThatâ€™s terrible. Theyâ€™re free for a reason.â€
BIG TEN PLAY, thatâ€™s what. This is what everybody hating on Indiana basketball this season has been waiting for, as the B1G is one of, if not the best conference in the country. Tom Crean will take his squad to East Lansing, where he will take on Tom Izzoâ€™s 18/20th ranked, 9-2 Spartans on December 28th.
This is a big test for the Hoosiers, as is any conference road game. Before this season, Indiana had not won a single game away from Assembly Hall under Tom Crean. A win here would be huge, as the next two games donâ€™t get any easier when they host No. 2 Ohio State on the 31st, and No. 20/18 Michigan on the fifth of January.
For now, Indiana is 12-0, and one of the few undefeated teams left in Division 1 College Basketball.
Say that back to yourself. It sounds nice, doesnâ€™t it?