A battle between two of the hottest teams in the Big Ten belonged to the Indiana Hoosiers after they pulled off the upset by beating the No. 4 Iowa Hawkeyes on Thursday night, 85-78, inside Bloomington Assembly Hall.
Indiana, which had a balanced scoring attack all night, got 13 points apiece from Troy Williams and Robert Johnson. Thanks to Indiana's win, there's a three-way tie atop the Big Ten leaderboard with the Hawkeyes, Hoosiers and Maryland Terrapins at 10-2 in conference play.
Indiana Basketball tweeted this after the victory:
Indiana Basketball also provided these highlights of this much-needed win:
Iowa came into Thursday’s tilt as a team that had benefited greatly from the shakeups in the Top 25 polls. Winners of 12 of the past 13 games coming in, the Hawkeyes did not play like the the No. 4-ranked team in the country in the first half.
The Hawkeyes trailed by 16 points with six minutes, two seconds remaining in the first half after a bizarre sequence that gave the Hoosiers all of the momentum. Indiana forward Collin Hartman blocked Iowa star Jarrod Uthoff and made a three at the other end to give Indiana a 36-20 lead.
The Big Ten Network provided a clip of the sequence, which started with a three-pointer by Indiana guard Nick Zeisloft:
This seemed to tell the story of the game, per ESPN.com’s Eamonn Brennan:
Colin Hartman just pinned Jarrod Uthoff at the rim and then buried a trailing 3 at the other and that pretty much sums up IU-Iowa thus far.— Eamonn Brennan (@eamonnbrennan) February 12, 2016
Indiana also held a huge advantage in terms of second-unit production, according to ESPN Stats & Info:
Indiana leads Iowa 19-0 in bench scoring at the half. Follow the game here: https://t.co/syzK29Ghqq— ESPN Stats & Info (@ESPNStatsInfo) February 12, 2016
For Iowa, though, it looked to be familiar territory. On Jan. 2, the Hawkeyes were down by 17 points against the Purdue Boilermakers before coming back to win, 70-63, per Chris Jewell of Indiana Sports Report.
Iowa closed the half on an 18-9 run to make it a 45-38 lead for the Hoosiers. Knowing that what happened to Purdue could happen to Indiana, CBS Sports’ Kent Sterling mentioned how important it was for the Hoosiers to keep their foot on the gas:
Indiana needs to re-gather focus right now. Defensive intensity has evaporated. 15 pt leads can vanish quick. Ask Purdue. #iubb— Kent Sterling (@KentSterling) February 12, 2016
That didn’t happen. Iowa stormed out on a 9-0 run to take its first lead since 4-3 with 17:26 left in the first half. Not only did Uthoff’s scoring spark the Hawkeyes, leading Iowa with a game-high 24 points, but guard Mike Gesell also began to leave his mark on this game, making three of Iowa’s first six shots to begin the second half.
Chad Leistikow of the Des Moines Register noted Gesell’s performance and how the tide had turned:
BIG GAME MIKE (Gesell) is here at Assembly Hall. We've got a doozy. 50-50 at the under-16.— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) February 12, 2016
But fatigue began to settle in for the Hawkeyes, whose starters combined to take 59 of 63 shots. Iowa played well enough to hang with Indiana but struggled to make its free throws, hitting only 13 of 23 attempts.
Indiana, however, got plenty of production across the board, as five Hoosiers scored in double figures. Zeisloft also contributed with three huge three-pointers in the first half.
Since a 20-point loss to the Duke Blue Devils on Dec. 2, Indiana has lost only twice in 17 games. Iowa and Maryland are getting the recognition because of their national rankings, but the Hoosiers appear to be as much of a threat as those two teams.
After back-to-back nine-point outings, it was a much-needed 13-point night for Williams. Indiana required every one of those points, and Indiana head coach Tom Crean said he bounced back in the best way possible, per Sam Beishuizen of Indiana Athletics:
Crean: "Troy was like Lazarus. He resurrected himself a couple times today." #iubb— Sam Beishuizen (@Sam_Beishuizen) February 12, 2016
Although he made only two of his 12 shot attempts, Hoosiers leading scorer Yogi Ferrell came up in a huge way by making all eight of his free throws to score 14 points. Ferrell thought, despite his struggles, his teammates would band together and get the win, per Justin Albers of AllHoosiers.com:
Yogi: “Coach Crean kept saying, ‘We’re going to win this game.’ And I could see on guys’ faces, they knew we were gonna win this game."— Justin Albers (@Justin_Albers) February 12, 2016
Known for its rebounding, Indiana only slightly won the battle of the boards against Iowa, 39-35. Iowa center Adam Woodbury had a game-high 15 rebounds, but no other Hawkeye had more than five. Uthoff thought that was one of the many difference-makers, per Leistikow:
Jarrod Uthoff: "We came out kind of tentative, especially rebounding."— Chad Leistikow (@ChadLeistikow) February 12, 2016
Iowa did well at not turning the ball over, only committing nine turnovers. But the Hawkeyes committed five of their nine turnovers in the second half, all in the time it took Indiana to make a run of its own and take the lead for good.
"We had a few costly turnovers at bad times," Gesell said, per Leistikow. "Just different times we didn't come up with the big plays."
For the Hoosiers, getting this win was huge in terms of keeping pace atop the league. Sunday will be another pivotal matchup for the Hoosiers, and love won't be in the air this Valentine's Day when Indiana takes on the No. 8 Michigan State Spartans.
"It only gets easier," Crean said, per Mike Miller of the Herald Times. "Now we get to go to East Lansing."