Saturday, January 21, 2017 5:31 pm
Notebook: IU assistant key to win over Michigan State
Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette
BLOOMINGTON – Indiana coach Tom Crean said Saturday's 82-75 win over Michigan State stemmed in part from a strategic suggestion by associate head coach Tim Buckley. The trusted assistant had the idea to have small forward Robert Johnson defend Michigan State power forward Miles Bridges, the Spartans' leading scorer.
The 6-foot-7 Bridges ended up with 13 points and 10 rebounds but shot a woeful 4 for 17 from the field.
"Coach Buck had a great plan for us, so (we were) just buying into that," IU guard James Blackmon Jr. said. "I feel like we all covered each other's backs today. If someone was in the wrong spot, someone else was picking it up for them."
The 6-3 Johnson rarely needed help on Bridges, a freshman.
"We just wanted to make it tough for him all night," Johnson said. "Coach Buck did a great job, like James said earlier, of getting us a game plan to go out and stop those guys, and we pretty much knew the plays, where he wanted to catch the ball."
Buckley, head coach at Ball State from 2000-06, has been on IU's staff since 2008.
"To put Rob on him (Bridges), it was Tim Buckley's idea," Crean said. "Very good idea. We were fully ready to have Thomas (Bryant) be in there. You've got to make sure that your help is really good, and I thought everybody was really, really locked in to what (Nick) Ward was doing on the post and what Bridges was doing on the perimeter."
Academic issue: Seldom-used IU reserve Tim Priller, a double major, has fallen behind on progress toward his second degree, according to Crean. Because of NCAA rules, Priller is not allowed to play until he catches up. He can sit on the bench at home games like Saturday's but is not allowed to travel with the Hoosiers.
Ball security: Indiana committed only nine turnovers in 66 possessions.
"I think we did a good job of moving the ball, making the simple play," Johnson said. "Offense got into a rhythm early, and I think it carried throughout the game."
Illness afoot: Backup guard Curtis Jones, scoreless in seven minutes of action, was playing through an illness. He felt sick and couldn't do much Saturday in the Hoosiers' morning walkthrough.