Indiana will be at full strength when it opens Big Ten play at Iowa today.
Freshman forward Jeremy Hollowell was reinstated after missing the last three games while the NCAA looked into a “self-reported secondary violation.”
Add the recent return of freshman forwards Hanner Perea and Peter Jurkin, plus senior forward Derek Elston, and the No. 5 Hoosiers will have their entire roster available for the first time this season.
Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said in a university release that the NCAA has reinstated Hollowell's eligibility.
“He will travel with the team to Iowa and be eligible to play in that game, and all other games going forward,” Glass said. “We will release the details of this matter later this week.”
Depth could be crucial for IU (12-1) against an 11-2 Iowa team that goes 11 deep –- nine players average at least 17.3 minutes; two more average 9.8 minutes. The up-tempo Hawkeyes have won six straight. They press on defense, attack on offense. They have won 14 of their last 15 home games, including all nine this season.
Carver-Hawkeye Arena is sold out for the first time this season. This will be the Hoosiers' first true road game.
“Iowa is playing as well as any team in the Big Ten right now,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “One of the reasons is their efficiency on offense and defense. They have very few empty possessions. That shows great leadership, maturity and talent.”
Three Hawkeyes have averaged in double figures the last three games – swingman Roy Devin Marble (22.7), guard Mike Gesell (12.3) and forward Aaron White (12.0).
Overall, the 6-6 Marble leads the team in scoring (15.7) while the 6-8 White leads the team in rebounding (6.5) and is second in scoring (13.6).
Iowa is fourth in the country in free throws made per game (18.8). IU is first at 20.7. The Hawkeyes are second in the conference in blocks, averaging 5.3 a game to Minnesota's 6.5. Iowa also ranks fourth in the Big Ten in scoring (76.9 points) and 10th in points allowed (61.2).
“Iowa is another team that plays 94 feet,” associate head coach Tim Buckley said. “We not only have to put an emphasis on scoring, but also on getting stops and not letting them get out in their transition game.
“Aaron White is one of those under-the-radar guys who has improved in so many areas -– as a ballhandler, a rebounder, a shooter. He is very athletic and long.
“Marble is the same way. He's developed into one of the better players in the Big Ten. He's a matchup problem because he's so versatile.”
Although unranked, many experts project the Hawkeyes as a NCAA tourney team come March.
“We have a better team,” coach Fran McCaffery said. “We're deeper. You have to be deep. (Indiana) is going to make you guard them. They average 89 points. That's a big number, so you've got to make sure we are rotating personnel. We have to get back on defense, be up toward the ball, put pressure on the ball. We've got to battle them on the glass. It takes a lot of effort.”
IU represents, by far, Iowa's biggest challenge of the season.
“We recognize who we are playing,” McCaffery said. “We recognize we are going to have to play better than we've played up until now. We are going to have to play mistake-free basketball and shoot it better.
“(Indiana) is a phenomenal rebounding team. We are going to be challenged on the glass, at full court, at half-court. They are going to make our young guys think.”
Indiana, meanwhile, has bounced back strong from its Butler loss two weeks ago with three straight blow-out victories, although all three were at Assembly Hall.
“I think we are very prepared for the league to start,” senior guard Jordan Hulls said. “The coaches do a great job of working us every day.
“The Big Ten is a great conference with a lot of great teams. We have to perform every night. That's what we're going to focus on.”
Added guard Victor Oladiop: “We've gotten better each game. We've definitely learned from our loss. We realized we had to improve and recognize the things we need to get better at.
“We have leaders who have been through (Big Ten play). We have young guys who are mentally and physically prepared for it. I'm looking forward to it.”