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Big Ten Thursday Recap: The Indiana Hoosiers Hold Off the Iowa Hawkeyes

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Only one game on the Big Ten schedule Thursday night, but it was a good one.

Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

Oddly, Indiana has the Big Ten's third best record, but isn't ranked. Conversely, Iowa is in the top-5, and has everyone's respect and attention. The Hawkeyes aren't sneaking up on anyone, and the atmosphere at Indiana indicates that they'll be targets in every Big Ten road game.

Game of the Night: Indiana Hoosiers 85, Iowa Hawkeyes 78

Assembly Hall rocked from the opening tip. Perhaps lifted by the crowd, both teams played with a frenetic energy, which didn't result in the cleanest basketball. Once both teams settled in, Indiana jumped to a big lead. The Hoosiers led by as many as 16 in the first half; much of the lead resulted from incredibly hot shooting (over 50 percent).

Iowa's defense though was a bit porous, and it really didn't matter which defense they played (full court pressure, zone, man). Indiana guards were driving to the rim with great success. Overall the Hoosiers were just more aggressive; Indiana had 12 first half offensive rebounds,and badly beat Iowa on the glass (21-12).

With all that said, the Hawkeyes only trailed by seven at the half (45-38). It felt like Indiana should've led by twenty at various points; they were so on fire from three, and getting pretty much whatever shot. Jarrod Uthoff kept Iowa afloat, particularly during a tough stretch when Indiana wasn't missing. He had 11 going to the break.

Thomas Bryant, who picked up two fouls in the first five minutes, finished the last seven minutes of the first half without getting the dreaded third. But, he was less impactful defensively. Unfortunately though, his third foul came within the first three minutes of the second half, and Tom Crean had to sit him.

With Bryant on the bench, Iowa came out strong in the second half, and really pushed the pace. The Hawkeyes started the second half on a 12-2 run and actually had a three point lead. (Again, incredibly amazing considering how great Indiana was offensively in the first half.)

Indiana's shooting cooled, but really their poor transition defense allowed Iowa to come back. They just stopped getting back on defense, and it gave Iowa a few simple baskets. Indiana would respond though, and used a 9-1 run to regain a three point lead with just under eight minutes to go. Leading by as many as nine points at times, Indiana wouldn't trail the rest of the way, and close a 85-78 win (a huge win for Indiana).

Despite the loss, Iowa looked very much like the team we all think they are. Down by 16 in the first half and nine in the second half, the Hawkeyes were never rattled, and clawed back each time. Five Hawkeyes finished in double-figures, strangely Coach McCaffery didn't get any point production from his bench. Uthoff finished with 24 points, and Mike Gesell, who went over 1000 points for his career on the night, had 15 points, six assists. Adam Woodbury also tallied another double-double (13 points, 15 rebounds).

Indiana had a very balanced attack offensively, and midway through the second half, shored up their defensive intensity. Yogi Ferrell didn't shoot the ball well (2-for-12), but he hit a big three late and finished with 14 points. Robert Johnson and Troy Williams each chipped in 13.

Now there's a three way tie atop the Big Ten. Maryland, Iowa and Indiana are all 10-2 in conference. Other teams are lurking, but it'll be a fun race among those three. Indiana is 20-5 overall, and finishes with games against five ranked teams (Michigan State, Iowa, Maryland, Purdue). Iowa is 19-5 overall, and has no other ranked teams left on its schedule. (Unless of course Indiana jumps into the rankings after tonight's win.)

These two teams will meet again very shortly. Indiana goes to Iowa on March 1st.