Indiana was straight embarrassed on Wednesday against Duke. There is no question of that by anyone. Indiana came out there on national television and quite simply laid an egg. They did everything they did in Maui. They couldn’t rebound, they lacked communication, and they looked completely lost on defense.
Quickly, everyone that had such high expectations for Indiana to open the season began to question whether their expectations were even close to justified. Today’s game against Morehead State was about more than just bouncing back from the Duke loss. Today’s game was about proving the doubters wrong. Proving that this Indiana basketball team can play the overall team defense that a championship contender needs to play late in the season.
Today’s game did just that. Well, kinda.
IU opened the game a bit sluggish, missing a few shots early and going down 13-12. From there they went on an 18-0 run and never looked back. They dominated the game in a way that IU fans seriously haven’t been used to seeing. They dominated the game purely through their defensive effort. They forced turnovers, grabbed rebounds, and turned defense into offense.
As a defensive unit Indiana forced 23 turnovers which lead to 27 points.
Morehead State’s Sean Woods saw this performance coming from Indiana, saying, “I knew they’d be hungry. They got embarrassed versus Duke.”
One of the biggest contributors to this defensive effort was Max Bielfeldt who had his best game as a Hoosier with 12 points, three offensive rebounds and three blocks. Bielfeldt brought an unrelenting energy on both sides of the ball. “We know our defense has to get better and that’s what we’ve been working on the past few days,” Bielfeldt said when describing the Indiana’s defense. “Just instilling the mindset that we did, showed a little tonight. Taking pride in defense.”
Another player that had a huge performance on both sides of the ball was James Blackmon Jr. It’s clear that Coach Crean has made Blackmon’s defensive effort his top priority and it has shown as of late. It seems Blackmon has finally realized how influential his defense can be to his offensive statistics. He had two steals early on which led to quick transition points as well as three offensive rebounds which led to crucial second chances points.
Coach Crean was incredibly impressed with the team’s play tonight, exclaiming, “I’m really proud of the effort, and energy. The way they responded from a long couple of weeks. I think they did an excellent job of learning and applying what they learned.”
Today’s game was undoubtedly the effort IU fans needed to see. Hopefully they will see that effort again against IPFW on Wednesday as Indiana will try to build momentum before their big matchup against Notre Dame on the 19th.