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Iowa extends winning streak over IU by causing defensive breakdowns

After Indiana defeated Purdue on Saturday, Mike Woodson gave his players a clear message in the locker room.

He told them that, while they could celebrate the victory on the ride home, they had to refocus for Tuesday’s game against Iowa at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. He told the Hoosiers that they needed to validate Saturday’s performance in their final two games of the regular season.

IU didn’t heed those words.

The Hawkeyes came to Bloomington, punched the Hoosiers right away, and never looked back. Indiana, for most of the evening, had no footing in the game. Iowa handed IU its second-worst home loss in Assembly Hall history, a 90-68 drubbing that accurately reflected how poorly IU played.

“We just we left our game in West Lafayette, and it’s just unacceptable the way we played tonight,” Woodson said. “I apologize to our fans. I’m the coach. I’ve got to get them ready to play, and that was a bullshit performance tonight.”

Woodson’s Indiana teams are now 0-4 against Iowa.

Last season, IU lost by nine in Iowa City, and by two in the Big Ten Tournament on a miraculous buzzer-beater by Jordan Bohannon. This year’s games have stung just as hard, with this blowout in Bloomington, and Indiana blowing a 21-point lead in January at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

The Hawkeyes cause Indiana a lot of headaches. Their star, Kris Murray, is a difficult defensive assignment for any opponent, and Indiana just doesn’t have a great matchup against him. Race Thompson had some success in January, but once he left the game with a knee injury, IU couldn’t stop Murray. And Tuesday, Thompson just didn’t look like the same defender he was before his injury.

Nobody else who attempted to guard Murray fared any better. Malik Reneau managed for a few possessions, but he could only last so long. Miller Kopp got torched. Jalen Hood-Schifino gave it a try, but Murray beat him, too.

The junior shot 9 for 16, including 5 for 8 from 3-point range, for 26 points, with seven rebounds and three assists.

“I think they were switching a lot more than they have been against us. Just confusing them with movement off the ball, I think, really got me a couple open looks early. Just got me in a rhythm. The basket was looking really big tonight for me,” Murray said. “I needed that. I’ve been struggling the last few games.”

Tony Perkins, an Indianapolis native, had an even bigger game. IU couldn’t find answers for him, either. He put up 23 points on 7-of-12 shooting, with 10 rebounds and eight assists.

Indiana’s offense was a problem as well, against an Iowa team with the second-lowest KenPom adjusted defensive efficiency in the Big Ten. Trayce Jackson-Davis had a big night, but nobody else found a rhythm. IU made coupled its poor decisions with bad outside shooting, finishing 18 percent from 3-point range. Hood-Schifino couldn’t produce the same high-level play he showed at Purdue.

The Hoosiers scored 1.000 points per possession, including just 0.865 in the second half. And that simply wasn’t good enough against a high-powered Iowa offense.

“After the game last weekend and coming back and doing this, it’s not what we stand for. Everyone’s upset,” Jackson-Davis said. “There’s not much to be said. We just have to come in tomorrow and come in Thursday and work.”

But as Murray said, Iowa really won this game schematically on offense. Iowa’s offense spread the Hoosiers out, forced them to cover the entire length of the 3-point line, and utilized off-ball movement and a flurry of off-ball screens to create mismatches that Indiana couldn’t prevent.

The Hoosiers looked flummoxed from the beginning of the game, and just couldn’t recover.

“It was just a full, just, meltdown of our defensive game plan,” Jackson-Davis said. “They exploited it and they took advantage of it, and they hit shots, so credit to them.”

Each game of this four-game winning streak for the Hawkeyes against IU has played out differently. This was the only true rout.

Murray attributed the recent success to seeing this IU team enough times to get a read on its style. But he added that Iowa had to come back in two of the games, and that IU could have closed those out and prevented this streak.

Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery made similar remarks, noting that they’ve had some close, tough wins against IU, aside from tonight. He joked that Bohannon’s shot showed his coaching prowess.

But he mainly praised the fight his team has brought against IU the last couple years.

“I don’t know that it’s anything ingenious that I’ve done, or anything that they haven’t done. The record speaks for itself,” McCaffery said. “Our guys come ready. I honestly believe that the credit needs to go to the players and how they respond. Two of those victories were in our place. One was in the (Big Ten) Tournament. I think winning here is, as we pointed out before, that’s not easy.”

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