Cody Zeller scored 15 of his 19 points in the second half, and Indiana’s defense got some key stops to power the fifth ranked Hoosiers past Iowa 69-65 in the Big Ten opener for both teams at Carver-Haweye Arena in Iowa City on Monday.
The Hoosiers hard-earned victory raises their record to 13-1, 1-0 in the Big Ten, while the Hawkeyes fall to 11-3, 0-1 in the conference.
Zeller came up huge for IU after a subpar outing in the Hoosiers non-conference finale against Jacksonville last Friday. He hit 7-of-12 from the field and was the inside presence Indiana needed, hauling down ten rebounds.
Victor Oladipo was key for the Hoosiers as well in the closing minutes, coming up with an offensive rebound basket and two free throws. He contributed 14 points and ten rebounds. Will Sheehey added 13 points and Christian Watford 11 as part of a balanced IU scoring attack. Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell enjoyed a solid overall game in his conference debut with nine points, seven rebounds, and four assists.
“We know this is a huge win for us, coming in here,” stated IU head coach Tom Crean. “We kept saying that if we get a win in (Iowa), it’s going to be a big deal, because not a lot of teams are coming in here and winning.”
It was anything but easy for the Hoosiers, who won for the first time at Iowa since 2008. Both clubs struggled shooting, and Zeller got off to another slow start offensively. But a Zeller dunk that gave Indiana a 19-16 first half lead ignited a 10-0 Hoosier run and an eventual 33-25 halftime advantage.
“We said shooting doesn’t always travel well,” Crean added, “but defense and rebounding do. They did tonight.” The Hoosiers held the Hawkeyes to 3-of-17 from three point range. In addition, Iowa swingman Devyn Marble, the Hawkeyes leading scorer, suffered through a miserable 1-of-14 shooting effort.
Aaron White had 15 points to lead Iowa, which had chances to cut the IU lead but couldn’t convert.
Meanwhile, the Hoosiers looked the part of an experienced and veteran Big Ten team that was ready to face a hostile crowd. “We struggled a lot on the road last year, but we won games on the road (as well),” said Oladipo. “We know what it takes to win games. We were going in here and we were going to take the first punch and play harder. And I think we did a phenomenal job of that.”
IU is back on the road next Monday when they travel to Penn State.
Tip-in’s: Freshman Jeremy Hollowell returned to action after IU Athletics Director Fred Glass announced Sunday that the NCAA found no wrong-doing on Hollowell’s part. He was scoreless in five minutes but came up with a key block shot in the second half.