The stats have never been the ultimate indicator of Jordan Hulls’ importance to Indiana.
He’s had big-scoring games, of course, but he’s also just as likely to hit one or two shots while dishing out an array of assists, all while playing better defense than he often gets credit for.
That was evident in the Hoosiers’ 80-64 win over Illinois on Thursday in the second round of the Big Ten Tournament.
Hulls was 0-for-5 from the field, including a couple of gut-wrenching 3-point attempts that rimmed out of the United Center’s baskets.
But he also dished out a game-high seven assists without turning the ball over. And he helped harass Illinois’ D.J. Richardson into a 2-for-10 shooting performance from the field.
“Just not let him get any open looks,” Hulls said when asked about his defensive strategy against Richardson. “He’s a good shooter, always has been. Just didn’t want him to see that first one go in.
“He hit some tough shots.”
“Jordan had a great game and he also had seven assists. He helped us win,” Victor Oladipo said.
“He’s one of our leaders, he’s one of our seniors, and he’s very capable of changing the game,” Oladipo said. “When we can win and he only has what? Two points and seven assists? It just shows how deep our team is and how capable he is of still playing defense.”
Winning was Hulls’ goal when the hometown kid chose to stay in Bloomington. After a standout high school career at Bloomington South which included a 26-0 state championship season and Mr. Basketball honors as a senior, he chose IU despite sanctions against the program in the wake of the Kelvin Sampson era.
Wins were hard to come by his first few seasons, but he’s developed into one of IU’s leaders on-court and off.
“I watched IU basketball growing up my whole life, a huge Coach Knight fan,” Hulls said. “Just being able to be a part of Indiana basketball, playing in the university in my hometown is pretty special. That’s why I’m here, I wanted to help rebuild the program.”
And Hulls and his teammates have the Hoosiers two wins away from the school’s first Big Ten Tournament title.