There’s not another college basketball team in the nation that can put four 1,000-point scorers on the court at the same time.
But for Indiana, the emphasis for tonight’s game against Iowa, as it has been all season, is on defense.
The Hoosiers (24-4, 12-3 Big Ten) gave up too much inside in Tuesday’s loss at Minnesota. The Golden Gophers scored 40 points in the paint, 21 on second-chance opportunities, taking advantage of 23 offensive rebounds in the 77-73 victory.
“We weren’t physical enough,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “We didn’t create the first hit. There were just too many times that shot went up and they were there before we were because we weren’t into their bodies. We picked a bad night to do that.”
It won’t help that Iowa (18-10, 7-8) is the Big Ten’s second-best rebounding team, averaging 39.4 per game.
And even though Iowa is in the middle of the pack in the Big Ten standings, the Hawkeyes are third in the conference in scoring, averaging 71.3 ppg. That’s even after Wednesday’s 58-48 win over Purdue.
It didn’t help that the Hawkeyes were without freshman point guard Mike Gesell for that game. Iowa’s third-leading scorer is out until at least the Big Ten tournament with a foot injury.
That puts more pressure on Iowa’s top scorer, Roy Devyn Marble, to direct the Hawkeyes’ offense.
“A lot of scorers that are playing point want to have the ball because they want to be able to shoot it whenever they want. In [Marble’s] case, that’s not who he is,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “If he’s playing the point, he is trying to run our offense.”
The Hawkeyes also will rely on freshman Anthony Clemmons to run the offense off the bench. He leads Iowa with 92 assists.
Marble scored 14 points against IU in the conference opener, a 69-65 win by the Hoosiers on Dec. 31 in Iowa City. But almost all of his points came at the line; he was 12 of 13 on free throws, 1 of 14 from the field.
He wasn’t the only star to struggle in that game; IU’s Jordan Hulls was 0 for 10 from the field, failing to score for the fourth time in his career.
Still, with 1,278 career points, Hulls is one of four 1,000-point scorers in IU’s starting lineup, along with Christian Watford (1,650), Victor Oladipo (1,021) and Cody Zeller (1,020).
Appropriately enough, IU will be recognizing the Big Ten’s all-time leading scorer before tonight’s game. Calbert Cheaney broke the conference scoring record March 4, 1993, and went on to finish his career with 2,613 points.