The Hoosiers received a wake-up call after their brutal 80-62 loss to Michigan on Sunday.
Seemingly still celebrating their victory over Purdue on Thursday and the heroic shot by Rob Phinisee, almost instantly IU faced a 13-point deficit against the Wolverines.
“I thought we were flat. You would think after a big game against Purdue, in front of your fans, you would really come out. But we didn’t we were flat,” head coach Mike Woodson told Don Fischer on his radio show Monday.
The Wolverines managed to convert on 6-of-9 of their three-point shots for 66.7 percent, and 14-of-27 for 51.9 percent from the field in the first half. They headed into halftime with an eight-point lead.
The start of the second half was just as bad as the first. The Wolverines broke out of the gates by going on a 14-6 run to stretch the lead to 16.
From there, the Hoosiers would only cut the lead down to nine at the lowest.
“Sometimes, you get punched in the mouth and you don’t respond. It was probably the first game all year where they came out and hit us and we didn’t respond,” said Woodson.
The loss was no doubt a setback for the Hoosiers, but a key lesson was reinforced.
“That’s the thing, you can’t get too high, you can’t get too low. We’re playing in the Big Ten, there’s no easy games,” said Race Thompson.
“That’s the message we’ve been talking about. You can’t get too high on a win like that, Purdue was a huge win for us. And, we come out and we lay the egg versus Michigan and didn’t come out ready to play. So I think that shows if we got a little bit too high on ourselves, feeling ourselves a little bit too much. So, I think it was a little reality check for us.”
A chance at redemption against Penn State
The Hoosiers were riding high on a three-game win streak the first time they met Penn State. And, much like the Michigan game, they received a reality check.
Similar to Sunday’s performance, Indiana started slow and with a clear lack of energy. Then it led to a Penn State 4-of-7 start from deep to give their team the confidence to hang around in the game.
The Hoosiers would fail to execute down the stretch as well. It resulted in a 61-58 loss after a failed go-ahead layup by Trayce Jackson-Davis, and two unsuccessful three-point attempts. One by the forward again, and another by Phinisee.
“That was one of the first films we watched as a team when we got back here after that loss because we just didn’t compete,” said Woodson of the previous matchup with Penn State.
“We were a step behind all over the floor that night and they took advantage of that.”
Although the Hoosiers held the size and athleticism advantage over Penn State, they were out-rebounded 39-29. Indiana also allowed 11 offensive rebounds, which led to 11 second-chance points.
One of the major contributors was John Harrar. The six-foot-nine-inch, 240-pound forward grabbed 12 rebounds–four of those were offensive boards– to go with six points. Seth Lundy contributed with 10 rebounds, also.
Meanwhile, Trayce Jackson-Davis was held to just five rebounds in 35 minutes, which angered his head coach. It was Thompson, who took on the brunt of the work, with a team-high 10 rebounds.
“It just comes to hard work. We got to box him (Harrar) out. Obviously he’s strong, but I mean everybody’s strong in the Big Ten. So, again just box out, and really just go after rebounds,” Thompson said of what needs to improve from the rebounding performance.
“Don’t sit around and take pictures as our coaches would say. Everybody’s gotta crash the glass. He’s an elite rebounder. Everybody knows that, so we got to really keen on that and try not to let him get any second chances.”
The defense of the Hoosiers was also suspect. The Nittany Lions hit IU with a three-point barrage. Although they shoot 33.7 percent from deep, in the first meeting the Lions shot 11-of-22 for 50 percent from deep.
“Throughout the season, we’ve been really good on the three-point line, granted that game and our past game,” Thompson said.
“Really guard the ball, guard ball screens better, and then again just challenge shots. We can’t hope they miss, we got to make them miss.”
Again like the Michigan game, the high ball screen defense of the Hoosiers led to easy three-point looks and easy baskets in the paint.
“I think it goes with the guards and the bigs,” Thompson explained how they could improve their coverage this time around.
“As bigs, we gotta do a better job at impacting the ball when it’s coming off and then guards got to get into the ball and refuse to get screened.”
The Hoosiers will look to avenge their previous loss to the Nittany Lions. More importantly, they look to leave their ugly performance in the past and rebound from the loss to Michigan.
“I think it’s just really about not getting too low about that loss. I mean it was a tough one, we didn’t show up to play, and I think that as we’re trying to break this door down, we’re putting dents in it, but we really need to find a way to really break through that door, and string a couple together,” said the team’s captain.
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