Back in November Indiana left it all out on the floor in an emotional high energy game at home against Duke. Three days later they came out flat on the road against Michigan. I guess you could say the start against Ohio State was predictable. After a Purdue game that followed a similar script to Duke, Indiana started slow against Ohio State too, and it could never recover. Indiana was getting wins earlier in the conference slate by grinding away at its opponents. Now the schedule is grinding away at them. Michigan State is next. You know how that went last time. IU loses this one 71-56, and has now lost three in a row.
Overall: B- This Indiana team really just has no room for error. It can’t have slow starts, it has to bring max energy, it must limit turnovers, it must knock down some shots — and sometimes all of that isn’t enough. There just isn’t enough depth on this team, especially in light of injuries, to consistently compete at a high level. Tonight at times IU couldn’t do any of those things. You’d like to believe that having two starting senior guards would be a great asset on the road in the Big Ten, but alas the Hoosiers got very little from Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson in this game. With so few other scoring options, Indiana struggled to ever get anything going and threaten the Buckeyes.
Coaching: B We knew this team couldn’t hit 3-pointers and free throws. Now they can’t hit layups either? At one point in this game IU was under 40% finishing at the rim. It isn’t clear what else Archie Miller can do. The turnovers are for the most part down. The offense is generating open shots. The defense has been mostly good. The energy has been higher. You just have to make shots and this team cannot do it. Sure, Devonte Green was hot tonight, but Newkirk and Johnson were no-shows. That’s just how its been going.
Offense: C Indiana dug its own grave on this end of the floor. In the first half the Hoosiers were settling for too many jump shots rather than making extra passes, and they didn’t make a concerted effort to get the ball to Juwan Morgan. Of course those early shots weren’t falling, and then as mentioned, once IU did finally start attacking the rim — those shots weren’t falling either. You won’t win many games shooting 36% overall, 32% from distance and 56% from free throw line. The Hoosiers did only have 8 turnovers on the game on 11 assists.
Defense: B+ Indiana started slow on defense too but played better as the game wore on. Early on IU looked a step slow on everything and it led to a lot of open looks for the Buckeyes. Indiana forced 14 turnovers for the game, with Zach McRoberts once again leading the way with 3 steals. McRoberts did a fantastic job on NBA bound superstar Keita Bates-Diop, holding him to 7 points below his average on 5-13 shooting while committing 3 turnovers. Ohio State averages 78 points per game, so the 71 allowed was a respectable evening. Strangely, the Hoosiers had no blocks on the night.
Players with meaningful minutes:
- Al Durham, Jr.: B- Well at least he broke his 3-point shooting drought which dated back to December 4th. Ohio State was sagging off of him and he couldn’t deliver which is likely why he only played 9 minutes.
- Josh Newkirk: C- This was about as bad as it gets for Newkirk. In 15 minutes he was 0-4 from the field and had no assists. He was benched. If there’s good news it was that Green delivered in his absence.
- Justin Smith: B- There weren’t a lot of memorable moments in 21 minutes from Smith on this night. He seemed to get benched early on in connection with the slow start. IU needs him to be better and more productive with such a thin front court.
- Robert Johnson: B Give Ohio State credit, they largely took him out of the game. The Big Ten is starting to figure out that as Johnson goes, so goes IU. He only took 6 shots on the night. He did deliver 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal, and no turnovers.
- Devonte Green: A Devonte where have you been? This was by far his most complete game of the year. He clearly had his confidence back, and he seemed to have less of his swagger. It was just all business from the sophomore guard. 20 points on an efficient 6-10 from the field, 4-5 from distance, 4-5 from the line, 2 rebounds, 2 assists and NO turnovers. He also slowed down C.J. Jackson. Great stuff.
- Juwan Morgan: B+ Juwan Morgan looks tired out there, and who could blame him? Despite everything that is being asked of him and every defense focused on stopping him — he is still delivering. An efficient 15 points to go with 6 rebounds and 2 assists. He did have 4 turnovers on the night and continues to struggle at the line.
- Zach McRoberts: A- Zach likes to get his scoring out of the way early. It’s so beneath him. As we mentioned, he did an amazing job on Keita Bates-Diop. It’s hard to believe you are watching a walk-on out there competing at that level. Candidly, he’s everything that the “Indiana” across his chest is about.
- Freddie McSwain, Jr.: A- Forget what we said after Purdue about improved finishing at the rim. He was one of the main culprits for the bad shooting around the basket. He can be a liability on offense and is dangerous with the ball in his hands, but warts and all, he gives you good effort despite almost always being undersized.
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Photo credit – (Paul Vernon, AP)