In IU’s home reopener, the Hoosiers defeated another ranked opponent in Assembly Hall, topping No. 20 Iowa 93-86.
It was the team’s third home victory against a ranked opponent this season and the win kept the Hoosiers from falling into a five-way tie for last place in the Big Ten.
It was the Hoosiers’ greatest offensive outburst since scoring 102 points against Washington on Nov. 21.
Ten IU players scored but two wing players were responsible for more than half of the Hoosiers’ points. Senior Will Sheehey and freshman Stanford Robinson recorded 30 and 17 points, respectively, which were career highs for both players.
Sheehey said the team’s game plan was to run to the corners and space the floor, opening up the middle of the court.
“I think our team from the start was built to run like this,” he said.
The senior could have passed for a wide receiver Thursday night, consistently beating Iowa’s transition defense down the court.
He said the key to his offensive success was his teammates finding him in transition.
Sophomore point guard Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell threw multiple overhead passes to an open Sheehey and Robinson found him on back cuts.
“I was scoring without the ball in my hands,” Sheehey said, crediting his teammates for finding him in transition.
He got off to a hot start for the second consecutive game, scoring six of the team’s first eight points. He scored IU’s first seven points against Wisconsin but was held scoreless for the final 37 minutes in Madison, Wis., Tuesday.
The senior didn’t let up against Iowa. He nearly matched his previous career-high in the first half, recording 19 points.
Crean said Sheehey was fantastic against Iowa.
“What an unbelievably ironic thing for him to have his career high on the night in which he was honored for his 1,000th career point,” he said. “I thought he was going for 2,000 tonight.”
The pace of play in the first half could have given the scoreboard operator carpel tunnel as the teams combined for 101 points.
The fast-paced nature of the game caused both teams to take advantage of their depth.
“We knew it was going to be a game where depth was key because of how good Iowa’s depth is,” Crean said.
Thirteen Hoosiers saw action Thursday and IU recorded a season-high 42 bench points.
Robinson said Crean frequently tells his players that they will never know when their time will come.
Even though the freshman guard said IU is better when it is able to utilize its athletes in transition, Hoosier fans shouldn’t expect an encore of Thursday’s game, which may have been mistaken for a track meet or a high-flying Cirque de Soleil performance.
Points will be hard to come by when the Hoosiers play host to No. 22 Ohio State Sunday. It would be an understatement to say the Buckeyes play stingy defense. Ohio State has the third-best adjusted defense in the country, according to kenpom.com.
“Obviously there are teams in this league who have no interest in having any kind of pace,” Crean said.