Well, that didn’t take long. After an inspirational, seemingly season-changing win at Michigan State on Saturday, there is a new reality in Bloomington. It’s the same as the old reality. And it isn’t a pleasant one.
It appears that there will be no late season dramatic turnaround as Indiana lost their third straight game on their home floor. And there is no way to spin this fact — IU has now lost eight of their last nine games.
With a home loss to Iowa on Thursday night, IU’s NCAA Tournament hopes are now firmly on the bubble the rest of the way. It is incredibly cliche to say it, but the next one is as “must win” as it gets. And just like almost every other game in this crazy 2019 Big Ten race, it won’t be easy.
Indiana (13-10, 4-8) returns to action on Sunday at home against Ohio State at 1:00 p.m. Eastern.
A 9-2 Iowa start to the game had Indiana fans on edge. Was this going to be another Michigan game where the outcome is determined in the first few minutes? It was not, as Indiana had an immediate 13-2 run of their own to take an early 15-11 lead and force a Hawkeye timeout. Indiana looked energized and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall was loud.
Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, Iowa came out of the timeout with defensive adjustments, and from there they were able to change the complexion of the game.
The Hawkeyes reclaimed the lead, Juwan Morgan got in foul trouble, and IU could never work its way back.
While nothing about the overall statistical profile looks bad, and the energy was reasonably good, IU couldn’t get in front in part due to an inability to get rebounds and loose balls down the stretch. Indiana head coach Archie Miller said this:
“They came up with about five to seven balls, especially in the second half that were right there for the grabbing and we couldn’t get it.”
“They were able, for whatever reason, I saw three or four balls deflected on the pass that land in play and they get it and there was a few that were raked out of the paint and it was on the ground and they get it. You have to find a way to get those balls, you know to, win this type of a game. We were never able to get it even and then play with a lead. We were always constantly clawing.”
It was Iowa’s move to a zone defense after the Hoosiers claimed that 15-11 lead that changed the game. From there Iowa closed out the first half on a 35-21 run of their own as Indiana struggled to find a rhythm offensively. The Hoosiers had been scoring in transition early on, and that went away after the Hawkeyes turned to the zone.
Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery referred to that move to a 2-3 zone as “probably the key defensively for us to be able sit in that and have them utilize a lot of the clock as well to get a shot up.”
Miler wasn’t overly disappointed with the team’s effort on the offensive end:
“I thought we were really together again offensively, whether it was the man or the zone we continued to be able to get 17 assists in the game, which is something we’ve got to keep doing and we shot a good percentage, as well.”
The Hoosier head coach indicated that “19 points off of our turnovers probably hurt us more than anything” as Iowa was active in passing lanes despite playing a zone.
Indiana committed eight of the 12 turnovers in the first half which fueld the Hawkeye run. With Juwan Morgan out for much of the second half, Indiana didn’t have enough firepower to get over the top.
Iowa has one of the most efficient offenses in the country for a reason, and they showed why against the Hoosiers.
The Hawkeyes were able to get the ball into the post too easily throughout the game and IU didn’t have an answer when it got there, especially against Tyler Cook. When Indiana tried to double the post, Cook and others were really strong with passing out of it to multiple open shooters.
A major issue, especially in the first half, was giving shooters too much room. Miller indicated that IU was short in their close outs which allowed several Hawkeyes, and especially Joe Wieskamp, to get going.
The defense was improved in the second half. Iowa only shot 40% from the field during that segment and Indiana allowed just three 3-pointers — but all three were “daggers” by Jordan Bohannon as Miller put it, including a contested step-back shot from about 28 feet that effectively ended the game.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score and specialty stats
- Archie Miller and IU players post-game
- Fran McCaffery post-game
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (B) How much do you fault a guy for fouls? In a physical game, sometimes it is just bad luck, but Morgan has to be smarter. With 17 points in 22 minutes, you can see why Indiana couldn’t afford to have him on the bench as they tried to bridge the gap.
- Justin Smith* (C-) Smith is just too inconsistent right now. After a strong game at Michigan State, he wasn’t a major factor against Iowa — and that can’t happen. Indiana needs him to be flying all over the court to be good. It was an especially off night on defense, where he left too much space for good shooters and was beat routinely in the post. Just two rebounds from Smith is a major problem for this team.
- Romeo Langford* (B+) It was a good all around game from Langford on the offensive end. McCaffery called it a “quiet 22” and that seems true. That he can have a quiet 22 shows how good he is, but Indiana cannot afford him to have quiet games, especially with Morgan out with fouls. Langford had struggles guarding the perimeter at times in the first half.
- Rob Phinisee* (B) Phinisee started to look more like his old self in this one. With four assists to just one turnover, he was strong orchestrating the offense. The freshman guard is passing up too many shots, and he struggled at times to stay in front of the ball on defense.
- Al Durham* (B) Once again, Durham is bringing a great energy level to this team. He’s the closest thing IU has to a floor leader — at least that is how it looks from the outside. He hit timely shots and was strong on both ends.
- Devonte Green (D) Unfortunately Green struggles to put together consistent games, and this IU team seems to be very dependent on that not being the case. Four turnovers in 17 minutes, and Green has to improve on his tear drop which is routinely open — and he routinely misses it. IU is going to live and die with Green’s ability to bring a positive spark to this team.
- De’Ron Davis (B+) Davis’ passing out of the post really gave a boost to Indiana as the junior forward provided a spark against the Iowa zone. His seven assists is probably the most eye catching stat line of the game. IU is undeniably better with a healthy Davis, and his stamina needs to improve to allow for longer meaningful contributions.
- Evan Fitzner (C) Fitzner’s ability to bring value seems to wholly depend on his ability to knock down perimeter shots — and he shoots like he knows it.
- Jake Forrester (C) Forrester is now clearly ahead of Clifton Moore in the rotation, but neither was going to match up well with Iowa in the post as was evident during his brief stint in this one.
- Damezi Anderson also appeared in the game.
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