In a tale of two halves, Indiana couldn’t quite dig out of the massive hole it created.
IU fell behind by as much as 21 points in the first half, fueled by a 14-0 Northwestern run that included four technical foul free throws for the Wildcats. Indiana still trailed by 17 with 15:50 left in the game, before they mounted a furious rally and tied the game at 62 with 28 seconds remaining.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers lost 64-62 with another edition of The Report Card.
Indiana (18-8, 9-6) will next host Illinois on Saturday at Noon ET in Bloomington.
Do you want to talk about the 20 point first half, or the 42 point second half? Because they could not have been more different.
IU shot 28.6 percent from the field and scored just .71 points per possession in the first half. In the second they produced 1.36 per trip on 66.7 percent shooting.
Northwestern is known for their aggressive double teams, and they did that in the first game against IU. So, while the particulars can vary, their approach could not have been a major surprise. But the Hoosiers did not appear ready at all. Compounding things, the Wildcats were allowed to play a very physical style of defense with few whistles, and Indiana turned it over six times in the first 11 minutes. It all combined to have Indiana on their heels, sped up and frustrated.
“I just didn’t see the comfort starting this ball game,” IU coach Mike Woodson said. “It showed, we couldn’t make shots and we were throwing the ball all over the gym so that’s what led to the 19-point lead.”
But impressive adjustments were made at the break, including passing out of double teams to vulnerable areas including the opposite block and perimeter. The IU staff deserves considerable credit for diagnosing the problem at the break. Race Thompson said after the game they watched film in the locker room, saw the openings, and made the adjustments.
The only question is, could they have better anticipated how Northwestern would defend them and made the adjustments sooner — or even in the gameplan going in?
Indiana assisted on 15 of 22 field goals, but they made just 3-of-11 shots from beyond the arc.
IU was well off their normal offensive rebounding rate –they had just five for the game.
Things were much different by half on this end as well, as Northwestern scored 1.3 points per possession in the first half, and .833 in the second.
The bottom line — Indiana guarded with much better energy after the break. It didn’t hurt that the Wildcats started missing some open threes, something Indiana’s defense allowed plenty of as they struggled at times against Northwestern’s three quick guards and a complex offense with a lot of off ball movement.
But in the aggregate, Indiana’s defense simply wasn’t disruptive enough. The headline number was their 6.4 percent forced turnover rate — a season low. The Wildcats gave it away just four times the entire game, and that allowed them to survive a poor shooting night. Compare that to Indiana’s 24.7 percent forced turnover rate against Purdue.
Against Purdue, Indiana was allowed to play very aggressive — and this is where the Northwestern game got tricky for IU — and led to first half chaos. The physical style Northwestern used on the defensive end wasn’t consistently allowed when Indiana was on defense. Touch fouls by Tamar Bates and Jordan Geronimo had the IU bench hot, likely because they didn’t feel the game was being officiated the same way on both ends. The four points Northwestern scored on technical free throws proved to be the difference.
Indiana found some answers in the second half, but the one thing they couldn’t solve was Boo Buie, who scored 10 points after the break including a game-winner. Yes he likely traveled and definitely pushed off on the play, but he was still the riddle IU couldn’t solve for much of the night — or last month in Bloomington for that matter. And Indiana should have known he’d have the ball in the closing seconds and forced him to give it up. Jalen Hood-Schifino could helped off his man Ty Berry (1-of-6 from three) and trapped Buie with 5 seconds remaining.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- Rough first half at Northwestern bites Indiana
- Watch: Woodson, Jackson-Davis and Thompson discusses loss at Northwestern
- IU basketball: Northwestern 64 Indiana 62 — Three keys | Highlights | Final stats
- Long form highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (B) After the game Jackson-Davis took the blame for the first half. That might be a step too far, but he was bothered by Northwestern’s double teams, and unable to get anything going before the break. But Jackson-Davis had a massive second half, including some exceptional passing out of the post.
Race Thompson (B) Thompson did a good job playing opposite of Jackson-Davis and finding openings created by the Wildcat doubles. At plus-15, Indiana was clearly much more effective when he was in the game, although he still doesn’t seem to have a lot of burst coming off of an injury.
Miller Kopp (D) Kopp was able to have an above average rebounding night, but he’s on the floor to make shots — and he didn’t. The focus of the Northwestern student section’s attention all night, Kopp couldn’t get into a rhythm.
Jalen Hood-Schifino (C+) The freshman continues to turn the ball over too much, as Indiana continues to ask a great deal of him. He made some big shots, but was a bit of an up-and-down night, and he hasn’t proven to be the same offensive player on the road.
Trey Galloway (B-) Galloway was steady on both ends for most of the night, although he’s playing a spot where IU needs more offensive production. He facilitated well in transition. Buie is a tough matchup for anyone, and Galloway played good defense on Northwestern’s final possession — as he did for much of the night.
Jordan Geronimo (C) He was called for two first half fouls and never got back in the game. That was probably more about Woodson feeling like Thompson was the better option.
Tamar Bates (F) The sophomore guard continues to struggle on the road, and just seems unable to find ways to significantly impact games right now. The player everyone believes Bates is capable of being — a three-level high volume scoring wing — is the player IU is missing.
Malik Reneau (C) Reneau made some good passes and was able to contribute some to the big-to-big, buddy ball approach in the second half, but fouls and turnovers continued to be a part of his story.
In total, Indiana had 11 scholarship players healthy and available. Logan Duncomb was out due to an illness, and Xavier Johnson (foot) remains unavailable.
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