BLOOMINGTON — It wasn’t a good start for anyone, let alone a national player of the year candidate like Indiana’s Cody Zeller.
At the start of the Hoosiers’ 73-60 victory over Iowa at Assembly Hall on Saturday, Zeller worked his way to the basket right after the opening tap and missed a lay-up.
Then he got an offensive rebound and missed a put-back. Then he missed a dunk. Then he fought his way to the line and missed a free throw. And then he missed another lay-up.
But one thing that captures the nation’s attention is that “can’t be denied” attitude and when it came to that intangible, Zeller was on his “A” game.
Zeller, who finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds, kept working hard and eventually destroyed the Hawkeyes inside. That was plenty enough for a victory on a night when Indiana didn’t make a 3-pointer until the final minute of play, when Victor Oladipo and Yogi Ferrell each hit one.
The victory moved the first-place Hoosiers to 13-3 in the Big Ten and 24-5 overall. Iowa is looking like an NIT team at 7-9 and 18-11.
“I just wanted to be aggressive,” said Zeller, who went 7 for 9 from the field after his 0 for 4 start, “I should have made them, but it’s still good. That really was our strategy. We wanted to get it into the paint.”
That aggressiveness forced Iowa to foul. Indiana shot 42 free throws to just 24 for the visitors. “That’s always a key for us,” Zeller said. “It is just us being aggressive. It’s a good scale of how aggressive that we are being.”
Ferrell also had a solid night for the Hoosiers with a career-high 19 points and five assists.
“I did a better job taking one more dribble and being in control,” Ferrell said. “I tried to pick my spots.”
For Oladipo, it was business as usual as he scored 10 points, had eight rebounds and four steals.
Oladipo also made the game’s single biggest play when Iowa had threatened to pull into the ballgame by cutting the score to 62-52 on an Eric May dunk.
With just over three minutes remaining, the Hawkeyes raced back down the court to cut the lead even farther when Oladipo stole the ball, then as it was going out-of-bounds, smacked the ball back inbounds behind him to Zeller.
Zeller spotted Will Sheehey all alone on the other end of the court and connected on a heave that gave him an assist and Sheehey a dunk. Iowa, which was led by Roy Devyn Marble’s 20 points, pretty much folded its tent from there.
It was a strange game as the two teams combined to go 3 for 27 from the 3-point line. Indiana didn’t make its first 3-pointer until Oladipo buried one with 48 seconds remaining. Indiana came into the game leading the Big Ten in 3-point shooting percentage at 42.6 percent.
If the two teams had played three games of HORSE in the first half, it would have ended HO, HO, HO. Everyone seemed to have trouble making a shot.
They were a combined zero for 14 from the 3-point line with the Hoosiers being an ugly 0 for 9. The Hawkeyes missed five 3s and all three of their free throws. Indiana did manage 10 of 17 from the free throw line in the first 20 minutes and used that advantage for a 26-14 halftime lead.
Iowa shot 29.2 percent from the field in the first half and had 14 turnovers. Indiana shot 28.6 percent with eight turnovers.
It was apparent, though, that Indiana would win playing ugly, so Iowa had to figure out some other strategy for the second half. The pace picked up, and that didn’t work for the Hawkeyes either.
Think your friends should see this? Share it with them!comments powered by Disqus
All content copyright ©2013 The Republic, a division of Home News Enterprises unless otherwise noted.