Indiana Hoosiers at a Crossroads, Head to Other Assembly Hall To Face Illinois

Bleacher ReportCorrespondent IJanuary 30, 2010

Today, the Indiana Hoosiers head to the Assembly Hall in Champaign, Illinois for a rematch with the Illinois Fighting Illini.

The last time the two met in Bloomington, the Hoosiers got off to a great start, were up 41-28 at the half, and were up by 15 points early in the second half.

Suddenly the shots dried up and the Hoosiers were called for 28 fouls, which allowed Illini center Mike Tisdale to take 14 foul shots, making 13 of them.

The 66-60 loss to Illinois has to be on the mind of the young Hoosiers, but also on their mind is last Sunday's awful loss at home to Iowa.

In that game, unlike against any other game this season, Indiana never showed the energy or fight that they always play with and a poor Iowa team outplayed them to win the game.

Since then, the team has been practicing hard and playing with a lot of energy, said Indiana coach Tom Crean.

This weekend's game with Illinois will present some interesting matchups, such as how Indiana defends Illinois center Mike Tisdale and forward Mike Davis.

In the last game between the two, Indiana contained Davis on the offensive end (two points) but were not able to stop Tisdale, who was 7-11 from the field and, along with 13 free throws, scored 27 points.

While some of the fouls called against the Hoosiers might have been suspect, big men Bobby Capobianco, Derek Elston, and Tom Pritchard will need to be physical but defend with their legs and not their hands.

Another interesting matchup will be in the Hoosier and Illini backcourt.

Hoosier guards Verdell Jones III, Jordan Hulls, Devan Dumes, and Jeremiah Rivers are all going to have to take turns guarding the Illini backcourt trio of Demetri McCamey, D.J. Richardson, and Brandon Paul.

Last time out, the Illinois defense proved lethal to Indiana's hope for an upset win in the second half, while the Hoosier D was unable to stop Richardson from hitting three three-pointers and McCamey from getting to the line constantly.

Since these two teams last met, the Illini are 2-3 while the Hoosiers are 2-2.

In that span, Tisdale has been averaging just 9.2 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, well below his normal scoring averages in conference of 13.9 and just short of his rebounding average of 6.8.

However, Demetri McCamey has stepped up his game and, in the same span, is averaging 17.4 points and 6.4 assists per game.

For the Hoosiers, Verdell Jones has been averaging almost 15 points per game in the last four games and has stepped up as the Hoosiers go-to man since the loss of Maurice Creek.

Christian Watford has been solid on the offensive end, averaging just over 13 points and eight rebounds, and is the leading freshman scorer and rebounder in the conference.

The Hoosiers, just like in the last matchup, face a team with a lot of strengths in their starting five, but not much after that.

If Indiana can get the Illini into foul trouble, they can take advantage of the lack of depth that Illinois has.

However, if the Indiana guards cannot hit any three-point shots again or crash the boards and haul in some rebounds, they will have no chance.

The Hoosiers are at a crossroads: A win would give them a huge amount of confidence coming back to Bloomington, while a loss would give fans of the squad, and the team, much less of a chance to win many more games this season.