The Hoosiers were never doomed to begin with, even after a loss to Minnesota on the road earlier this week, but bouncing back after a loss is always a good thing. It was Cody Zeller who rose to the occasion for Indiana. He was a man on a mission against the Hawkeyes, scoring 22 points, grabbing 10 rebounds and blocking three shots.
Even when he absorbed a cut to the chin, it didn’t slow down Zeller, and that is what you expect from a national player of the year candidate.
‘”I’ve watched a lot of games this year, and I’m telling you that nobody has the physicality used against him like Cody does,” Indiana head coach Tom Crean said in a post-game press conference. ”And you never see him change his expression. We had to take him out of the game when the bleeding wouldn’t stop and he didn’t change.”
The national title hopes of the Hoosiers still hinge on what Zeller does night in and night out. When Zeller plays at a high level, Indiana usually wins. The way he played against Iowa is the way he needs to play the rest of the year. If he does, Indiana is still the team to beat in the nation.
As well as he played, though, and as much toughness as he showed, he gave credit to the Hawkeyes for playing hard. “They’re a tough team,” Zeller said in a post-game press conference. ”They’re going to fight you to the end.”
The thing is, Zeller was tougher, and he fought a little harder.
Brian Lester is a college basketball writer for Rant Sports. Follow him on Twitter @BLester1993.