Good thing for Indiana that basketball games aren’t judged on style points.
The top-ranked Hoosiers took advantage of a marked difference in free throws to defeat Iowa 73-60 on Saturday night as Yogi Ferrell had a career-high 19 points.
The two teams combined for almost as many fouls (52) as Iowa had points. And the Hoosiers (25-4, 13-3 Big Ten), who came into the game as the Big Ten’s best 3-point shooting team, made just 2-of-14 from beyond the arc.
“We noticed we weren’t really making any shots,” Ferrell said. “We kept shooting, we hoped they would go down.”
Both 3-pointers came in the final minute, with the Hoosiers handily ahead of the Hawkeyes (18-11, 7-9). Victor Oladipo hit a 3-pointer, and Ferrell would add another.
Cody Zeller — pushed around in IU’s loss at Minnesota on Tuesday — bounced back with a 22-point, 10-rebound performance against Iowa. It’s his third double-double in four games against the Hawkeyes.
Had Zeller fared better at the free-throw line, it’s hard to say how many points he would have finished with. He was 8-of-13 from the line.
“It was kind of hard with the stopping and going again with the fouls,” Remy Abell said. “But to hold a team like Iowa to 14 points, that’s great defense.”
IU was 29-of-42 from the free-throw line, including 19-of-25 in the second half. Iowa was just 17-of-24 for the game.
“That’s us being aggressive. We always want to get to the free-throw line,” Zeller said.
IU and Iowa came into the game first and third respectively among Big Ten teams in scoring, with the Hoosiers averaging 82.2 ppg and Iowa averaging 71.3.
But both teams struggled to score in the first half. The Hoosiers led 26-14 at the break. The bulk of IU’s advantage was a 10-0 advantage in points from the free-throw line.
Iowa surged briefly coming out of halftime, pulling within 32-23 after a Roy Devyn Marble 3-pointer at the 16:31 mark — the first made 3-pointer of the game and Iowa’s only make from beyond the arc. Iowa was 1-of-13 on 3-pointers.
But Oladipo rebounded a Zeller miss and put IU back ahead by double-digits, and Iowa wouldn’t get within 10 points again.
Oladipo added 10 points for the Hoosiers. The two seniors in IU’s starting lineup, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, combined for seven points, all on free throws, as they were a combined 0-for-15 from the field.
Hulls might want to hope the Hoosiers don’t face the Hawkeyes in the Big Ten Tournament — he was 0-for-10 from the floor in the Dec. 31 game at Iowa City, and 0-for-7 Saturday night.
Marble led the Hawkeyes with 20 points, even after briefly leaving the court with what appeared to be an ankle injury in the second half. He would return.
Aaron White scored 14 and Eric May added 12 points for Iowa.