No. 5 Indiana escaped from Iowa City with a narrow win over an unranked opponent — and the Hoosiers were thrilled about it.
Life on the road figures to be this tough all season for Indiana and everyone else in the stacked Big Ten.
Cody Zeller had 15 of his 19 points in the second half and Indiana opened league play by holding off Iowa 69-65 on Monday night.
Victor Oladipo scored 14 points for the Hoosiers (13-1, 1-0), who snapped a four-game losing streak in Iowa City and have now won four straight since losing to Butler two weeks ago.
''We know this is a huge win for us, coming in here,'' Indiana coach Tom Crean said. ''We kept saying that if we get a win in (Iowa) it's going to be a big deal, because not a lot of teams are coming in here and winning.''
The versatile Oladipo was huge again for the Hoosiers in the final moments. He beat the shot clock with a putback with 1:04 left to put the Hoosiers up 65-60. He also made two key free throws with 26 seconds to go to make it a two-possession game.
The Hoosiers went just 3-6 on the road in the league last year, so this one was big for them.
''We struggled a lot on the road last year, but we won games on the road last year. We know what it takes in order to win games. Cody did a phenomenal job,'' Oladipo said.
Aaron White had 15 points to lead Iowa (11-3, 0-1), which might have pulled off the upset had it shot better than 3 of 17 from 3-point range.
''To our credit we were much more effective in the second half in terms of our execution,'' Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. ''We had great looks at it. Just have to shoot it better.''
The Hawkeyes had all kinds of trouble knocking down shots from everywhere in the first half. But they made nine of their first 10 after the break to inch within 48-46, keeping the high-powered Hoosiers offense from building an insurmountable cushion.
But even though Indiana later went without a field goal for nearly five minutes, the Hawkeyes couldn't muster enough offense to retake the lead.
Devyn Marble, Iowa's leading scorer, had an awful afternoon from the field. He shot just 1 of 14 and bricked a 3 after Oladipo's key putback.
''Defensively he was tremendous. He didn't turn it over. I love him. He fights for me every night out, and you know, he didn't want to shoot 1 for 14,'' McCaffery said of Marble.
Iowa's Zach McCabe missed a 3 that would have tied it at 65-all with under a minute left, and Oladipo sealed the win at the line.
Will Sheehey scored 13 points, Christian Watford had 11 and Zeller and Oladipo each grabbed 10 rebounds for the Hoosiers.
Indiana's recent four-game losing streak at Iowa was indicative of its recent struggles, especially since the Hawkeyes hadn't been all that great during that stretch, either.
''They've been kind of punking us the last couple of years, especially here. They've been outrebounding us and basically just outplaying us. I think this year,'' Oladipo said. ''We were going in here and we would take the first punch and were going to play harder. And I think we did a phenomenal job of that.''
It's been quite a while since Indiana brought a team this deep and this talented to Iowa City.
Still, it took nearly 12 minutes for Zeller, the leading scorer for the nation's best offense, to find the basket. He did so on a dunk, then went through 7-foot-1 Iowa freshman Adam Woodbury to put Indiana up 19-16 on the next possession. That came during a 10-0 Hoosiers run.
A pair of tough baskets off drives by freshman Yogi Ferrell, who had nine points, seven rebounds and four assists, helped the Hoosiers to a 33-25 halftime lead.
''I missed a couple of easy layups, missed a dunk in the first half. Nothing really changed. I just wanted to be aggressive,'' Zeller said.
Indiana freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell returned Monday after athletic director Fred Glass issued a statement Sunday saying the NCAA has cleared Hollowell of any potential infractions.
Hollowell, who averaged 5.7 points and three rebounds in his first 10 games, played five minutes and was held scoreless.
Iowa had three freshman starters make their Big Ten debuts: guards Mike Gesell and Anthony Clemmons and Woodbury. All three appear to have bright futures in the league, but their first afternoon in the Big Ten resulted in a loss.
''This was truly one of those 15-round fight games that the Big Ten is full of. You know, you can't really land the knockout punch, and you don't want it to land on you,'' Crean said.