BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — In Indiana's first matchup against Illinois in Champaign this season, the Hoosiers held a five-point lead with 9:19 to play. From that point forward, it became the Ayo Dosunmu show.
Dosunmu scored 18 points in that final 9:19 to give the fighting Illini a 69-60 victory over the Hoosiers. How was he able to take over the game so easily? Mind games was his answer.
Dosunmu lulled Indiana to sleep on ball-screens, saw how they were playing him, and after making the "right play" a couple of times, Dosunmu noticed that Indiana got complacent with defending him, so he started to get aggressive and took over.
Below is the full quote on how Dosunmu described his "mind games" against the Hoosiers:
"It's just an instinct. It's just a feel for the game. I played a mind game with them. All of my ball-screens. They were kinda hard-hedging... I was making the right play like six, seven times in a row so their bigs started getting lazy, starting getting complacent. So when I was coming off, they were expecting me to keep making the right play, keep hitting the corner...
Dosunmu continued, "Just playing a mind game with 'em. At the 9-minute, 10-minute mark, I knew that they were thinking, 'Alright well when Ayo comes to this ball screen, he's gonna hit the corner' and then I saw Trayce Jackson-Davis coming and leaving right away. That's when I was able to get in there and get a floater off. I got another layup and got some easy transition threes. Basically playing a mind game with 'em. I watch a lot of film. A lot of film on them. I knew when the game gets long, the duration of the game increases, their tendencies get lazy so I just wanted to attack on that. Knowing the scouting report."
The Hoosiers and Illini will meet for a second time this season on Tuesday night in Assembly Hall. Illinois, now the No. 12 team in the country, is coming off a big home win against No. 8 Iowa.
Indiana, on the other hand, has been off for nine days, and last time out, the Hoosiers lost at home to Rutgers.
In a week in which Indiana hosts Illinois and Iowa, it's paramount that the Hoosiers at least snag one win. Against Illinois, that starts and stops with Dosunmu.
“Preparing to play against Illinois, you have to be smart,” head coach Archie Miller said Monday. “Ayo’s a guy that can really hit you up a lot of different ways. There’s no single way you can hone in on him. He’s great in transition. He shoots the ball extremely well in transition. In the half-court, with his size and athleticism and talent, he gets to the basket when he wants."
What Dosunmu was able to do down the stretch against Indiana on Dec. 26 was something Miller noticed, calling him a "good reader of the defense."
“He knows how teams are playing him and their spacing is one of which he knows exactly where his reads are to make his outlets and his passes," Miller said. "He’s tough to contain."
For Indiana to not let him take over like he did last time, the Hoosiers are going to need everybody to step up defensively. One player isn't going to be tasked with stopping the multi-dimensional Dosunmu.
“It’s just a team effort with him,” junior guard Rob Phinisee said Monday. “He’s a really good player. He can score from all three levels. Really, we just have to impact the ball screens, keep a tight floor and stay with the pack-line defense.”
Tipoff is scheduled for 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.
- BIG TEN POWER RANKINGS: For Tom Brew's latest Big Ten power rankings through Feb. 1, CLICK HERE
- TIPOFF SET FOR INDIANA-ILLINOIS: Game-time has been revealed for Indiana's game against the Illini Tuesday. CLICK HERE
- JACKSON-DAVIS MAKES FINAL 10: Indiana sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis has made the list of the final 10 candidates for the Karl Malone Award, which is given annually to the top power forward in college basketball. CLICK HERE