The Hoosiers season seems to be on the ropes amid a three-game losing streak against some of the toughest teams in the Big Ten.
Following losses to No. 12 Illinois, Northwestern–in which they were without five players — and No. 19 Michigan State, Indiana is nearing desperation mode. Before the Michigan State loss, Joe Lunardi of ESPN had the Hoosiers getting into the Tournament as a No. 9 seed. Now, they have a slim margin of error.
They still have chances at resume-boosting wins against No. 5 Purdue and No. 18 Ohio State as well as an emerging Rutgers team. But, first comes a shot at redemption against No. 15 Wisconsin.
“It’s a three-game losing streak, we know that. We always gotta come together, keep fighting, and keep competing and I think we’ve done a great job of preparing these couple days and get ready for tomorrow (Tuesday),” said Trey Galloway.
Galloway did not play in the first matchup against the Badgers due to a wrist injury that he suffered against St. John’s in mid-November. Since coming back from injury, Galloway has given the Hoosiers a secondary playmaker and has provided solid perimeter defense. He was no doubt missed in the first matchup.
To start the game, The Hoosiers were able to go on a 22-4 run and gain a 22-point lead before a 5-0 Badgers run to cut the halftime lead to 17. The offense was clicking on all cylinders as all of the five starters scored seven, or more, first-half points.
“I remember that we played really well in the first half,” Galloway recalled of the first meeting with Wisconsin. “We came out, we did our job. We knew what we had to do to get the stops.
“I think we didn’t play at that same pace in the second half. They came out and jumped out on us early in the second half. And, we knew they weren’t gonna give up easy on a 17-point lead at halftime.”
Slowly, the Hoosiers saw their lead crumble before their eyes. The Badgers were able to go on a 15-5 run and take over the game. Galloway, sitting idly by on the bench, saw what went wrong for the team in their first matchup against Wisconsin.
“I think maintaining our pace, and maintaining the way we play instead of changing for the way they play, I think that was the main thing I thought we struggled with late in the game,” said the Culver, Ind. native.
Against Northwestern, with Xavier Johnson and Khristian Lander suspended and Rob Phinisee out due to injury, Galloway started at point guard. He played so well– 13 points, five rebounds, and three assists– that he resumed point guard responsibilities against Michigan State when Johnson got into foul trouble.
Although he did not fare as well against the Spartans, Galloway thinks he could help Indiana not give in to Wisconsin’s style of play.
“On offense, I think just controlling the tempo of the game, and playing my game, and playing my pace. I think just being that calming presence out there is needed, and I think I can bring that,” Galloway said.
Another problem that the Hoosiers faced was containing Johnny Davis. None of the defenders that were chosen to defend the NBA prospect could stay with him.
Davis scored 23 points including six points in the final three minutes of the game. His last basket was a tough fade-away three that found the bottom of the net. It also gave the Badgers their first lead of the game since being up 5-2 three minutes into the contest.
Galloway has been asked to defend top players such as Jaden Ivey and Trent Frazier recently. Presumably he will be assigned at least at times to Davis.
“He’s a great player. We know what he does and his tendencies,” Galloway said of Davis.
“Obviously, it’s going to be a hard matchup, but it’s not just one guy guarding him, it’s all five of us being there and being ready to defend. So, I think if we lock in our principles and do what we’re supposed to do I think we should do a pretty good job.”
As head coach Mike Woodson stated, the Hoosiers “control their own destiny.” Their destiny restarts Tuesday at 9 p.m. Eastern in Assembly Hall (ESPN2).
Tamar Bates works through freshman slump
Former four-star recruit Tamar Bates flashed his true potential early for the Hoosiers. Then he hit a freshman wall, but appears to be rediscovering his form.
After producing back-to-back double-digit outings against St. John’s and Louisiana Lafayette, Bates seemed primed for a bigger role within the offense. Against Nebraska, the talented freshman scored a career-high 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting with three 3-pointers.
After scoring just one basket against Northern Kentucky, Bates went almost a month before scoring again. He shot 0-of-8 in that stretch and rarely saw the court. He played just 15 minutes in a three-game period. In a seven-game span, he had just one game with above 10 minutes of playing time.
Still, he worked through it.
“It was a humbling experience for me. I mean just not getting too rattled at all, and not being shaken up by the so-called slump. You know, staying the course and recognizing what was going on and knowing that it’s hills and valleys on this journey I’m taking,” said the Kansas City, Kan. native.
“So, just continuing to put the work in and not doubt myself. I made sure I was doing things to keep my head on straight.”
Bates worked hard in practice and the film room. Finally, the work paid off against Michigan State. The freshman played in a career-high 28 minutes and matched his career-high in points with 13. He also added two rebounds and two assists while converting on half of his shot attempts.
“I felt that was pretty good or myself, personally for my confidence, and for the whole team in terms of their confidence in me,” said Bates.
In the past four games, Bates has seen his playing time expand. He has played at least 15 minutes in each game. He is shooting 7-of-21 for 33.3 percent with three 3-pointers but his impact has been more than that.
“Scoop” has been more aggressive offensively and is getting to the foul line. He is 8-of-8 from the line in the past two games. He has also tightened up his defense and is playing with a more aggressive approach.
“I wouldn’t say it’s about me knocking down shots, it’s just me continuing to know what’s going to keep me on the floor. Because with more time, I’ll be able to knock down shots, and help the team more on both ends of the floor,” said Bates.
“Just staying solid defensively. Doing what the coach is asking me. Doing the things that help me stay on the floor that’s what it really is. Just sticking to what I know.”
While in his slump, Bates turned to his family for guidance. His father and his brother were his biggest supporters during this time. The IMG Academy product has also turned to reading books and meditating to help learn from his experiences.
Bates said that he was reading books by author John Gordon. “The Garden” is a story about teenage twins who find ancient wisdom, life-changing lessons, and practical strategies to overcome the fear, anxiety, and stress in their lives.
“That was something I found really important just because everything starts up top,” said Bates.
“Just recognizing that my physical health is just as important as my mental health. So, that’s all it was, and I wanted to take a more serious approach, and I actually put actions towards it.”
In high school, Bates was accustomed to being a top player. During his junior year at Piper High School in Kansas City, he averaged 22.1 points, 5 rebounds, 4.1 assists, and 2 steals per game that season.
Through his first year of college, he has been assigned a bench role. He is starting to learn what it takes to succeed and find his groove coming off the bench.
“I would say I’ve figured out like different approaches to coming off of the bench. Just like really watching the game, and seeing what’s going on. Seeing what we’re doing right defensively, wrong defensively. And then, what the other team is doing defensively to exploit that when I get in the game on the offensive end,” added Bates.
The Hoosiers will look for solid production from Bates against Wisconsin. His defense and length could also be used in attempting to contain Johnny Davis. He will be one of many to get a crack at doing so.
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