Bloomington, IN – Coming off their first loss of the season, the now sixth-ranked Indiana Hoosiers seek a quick turnaround, as they welcome the Mount St. Mary's Mountaineers to Bloomington for a non-conference matchup at Assembly Hall.
Tom Crean's Hoosiers were sitting atop the national polls, winning each of their first nine games. That came to an end this past weekend, as Indiana dropped a heart-breaking 88-86 overtime decision to Butler in a neutral site affair in Indianapolis.
Jamion Christian's first season with Mount St. Mary's hasn't exactly gotten off to a rousing start. The Mountaineers were playing a better brand of basketball lately though. After dropping three of the first four games to begin the season, the Mount strung together three consecutive wins before last weekend's 79-57 loss at the hands of Loyola-Maryland.
This marks the first-ever matchup between these two teams on the hardwood.
The Mountaineers aren't a typical team in that Christian has installed a gameplan that overindulges on 3-point shots. The team ranks 11th nationally in 3-pointers made (8.9 per game) and leads the nation in percentage of points scored from beyond the arc (.435). Pressure defense is also a staple of the Mount St. Mary's attack, with the team forcing a turnover 27.9 percent of the time an opponent has the ball (sixth nationally). The downside of the aggressive play however, is a field-goal percentage defense that ranks dead- last nationally (345th), as foes are converting a whopping 56.9 percent from the field. The team boasts a trio of double-figure scorers, led by Rashad Whack's 11.5 ppg. Julian Norfleet is next in line at 10.5 ppg, followed by Sam Prescott's 10.3 ppg off the bench. The threesome are responsible for 58 of the team's 71 3-pointers to date.
In the lopsided loss to Loyola last time out, the Mountaineers struggled to find their range, shooting just .338 from the floor, a number that was severely hampered by an 8-of-34 showing from long range. Kristijan Krajina led the team with 14 points. Prescott and Norfleet added 12 and 11 points, respectively. However, Whack was a meager 1-of-12 from the floor and netted just three points in the loss.
The usually potent Hoosiers shot a mere .429 from the floor and made costly turnover after costly turnover late and were upended by the Butler Bulldogs this past weekend in a thrilling overtime affair. Indiana was outrebounded for the first time this season (40-38) and was outscored in second-chance points, 27-17. All-American Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo led the way in defeat with 18 points apiece. Will Sheehey and Kevin Ferrell added 13 and 12 points, respectively for Indiana.
Coming into last weekend, the Hoosiers were shooting 51.5 percent from the floor and winning games in impressive fashion by a scoring margin of +32. It remains to be seen if Butler has provided a blueprint for success or if that was simply an anomaly in Indianapolis. Overall, the numbers are still impressive for Indiana, which is shooting .506 overall and enjoying a +28.3 scoring margin, averaging 88.8 ppg to rank first in the nation in scoring. Zeller is perhaps the best big man in the nation, converting just over 60 percent of his shots, while averaging team-highs of 15.7 points and 8.5 rebounds per game. Oladipo is also playing at an extremely high level, shooting a ridiculous .658 from the floor and pouring in 13.2 ppg. Three others are netting double digits as well giving the Hoosiers serious scoring depth, with Sheehey (12.2 ppg), Christian Watford (12.1 ppg) and Jordan Hulls (11.5 ppg) all filling up the stat sheet.