Monday, December 1, 2008

Indiana 72, Cornell 57.

Andy Bernard no doubt had a relapse during this one, which amounts to IU's best win of the year. Cornell has nothing approaching Big Ten talent, but won the Ivy League last season with a perfect record and is favored to win again. My pregame concern was in part based on ignorance: I didn't realize that two of Cornell's best players were injured and unavailable. I also didn't expect Verdell Jones to miss the last 30 minutes of the game after being knocked cold by a (clean) Cornell screen. (By the way, I hope it was out-of-state students booing the Cornell player in question, Jeff Foote. I would like to think that native Hoosiers would recognize the excellence and appropriateness of that screen).

Here are the stats. This was a 68-possession game, and so IU generally is playing a bit faster than last season's much more talented team. Cornell's vaunted offense played a horrible game. The Big Red shot 33 percent from the field and managed only 9 offensive rebounds. Ryan Wittman scored 28 points for Cornell, but he needed 22 shots to do it, and was only 8-22 from the field. Even that less-than-efficient performance was above average compared to his teammates. IU, in the meantime, shot over 55 percent from the field, 79 percent from the line, and was more effective than usual on the boards. Tom Pritchard excelled: he scored 23 points on 7-7 from the field and 9-13 from the line. IU's rebounds were well-distributed. The bad news? Turnover problems continued, and against a team not known for its defense. IU turned the ball over on nearly 30 percent of its possession, second-worst on the season after the St. Joseph's game. Most importantly, IU finished strong. After blowing big leads against IUPUI and Chaminade, it was encouraging to see IU finish an opponent that was on the ropes.

In sum, IU played reasonably well against a tall but not particularly aggressive team. This doesn't give me much hope that IU will be competitive in upcoming games against Wake Forest, Gonzaga, and Kentucky, but this was IU's most complete effort of the season, and so I'll take it.

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