Once a preseason Big Ten darling, Indiana appears to be a team on the ropes after a fifth loss in eight games.
The Wildcats jumped out to a 34-17 lead before a 13-1 IU run helped bring the Hoosiers back in the first half. Northwestern led 41-34 at the break, and extended the lead back to 16 points with 12:15 left in the second. That proved to be a hill too big to climb for IU.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers lost 84-83 with another edition of The Report Card.
Current No. 15 Indiana (10-5, 1-3) will next travel to Penn State to face the Nittany Lions on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Eastern.
The raw shooting numbers look like they’d be good enough. Indiana shot 51.6 percent (32-of-62) from the field overall, and 50 percent (9-of-18) from behind the 3-point line.
But 16 IU turnovers wiped out what was some otherwise respectable offensive production. Indiana continues to be a poor passing team, and that led to most of the 14 steals by the Wildcats. The Hoosiers’ 21.6 percent turnover rate was their second highest of the season, and those turnovers led to a backbreaking 25 Northwestern points.
51 of Indiana’s 83 points came from two players, as the Hoosiers struggled to get production from anyone other than Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino. Starters Tamar Bates, Miller Kopp and Jordan Geronimo combined for just three first half points. Much of Indiana’s offense involved those three standing and watch the other two in high ball screen actions.
The Hoosiers did find some creative ways to use Jackson-Davis, and that led to him producing both 18 points and eight assists. He had a lot of face-up opportunities in the mid-post and on the wing, and that made it challenging for Northwestern to know when or how to double him and allowed for better vision to pass out of doubles when they came. But overall, there still isn’t a lot of movement in this offense that isn’t exceedingly difficult to guard.
Although Northwestern was very aggressive and extended defensively in the half court, IU was unable to turn that into meaningful free throw opportunities. They had just 14, and for the game Indiana scored 1.12 points per possession.
Northwestern was able to do a lot of damage before IU could get its defense set via transition opportunities created by Hoosier turnovers. That’s why this grade isn’t worse — some of the blame must go to mistakes on the other end.
But there is plenty of blame to go around when it comes to IU’s half court defense. The Hoosiers were gashed by straight line drives, and blew ball screen coverage and help assignments. And excessive fouling put Northwestern in the bonus early in the second half and led to 12 free throw attempts after the break before IU’s late fouls out of necessity.
“We need to quit fouling,” Jackson-Davis said. “We gave up about seven, eight fouls in the first 10 minutes (of the second half), and then they’re shooting bonus the rest of the way. I also think that we’re getting straight-line drived a lot, and it’s requiring guys to get out of position and help, and it gives up open threes, and they’re getting wide-open looks and they’re knocking them down.”
It’s hard to know who messed up on blown coverage and help assignments, but there were several, included some uncontested slips to the rim. Between those and the one-on-one drives, Northwestern got 40 points in the paint.
Since Xavier Johnson went down to injury, teams are getting to the rim far too easily. That led to IU coach Mike Woodson’s decision to utilize a 2-2-1 press followed by a 2-3 zone to attempt to keep the ball out of the paint. But the Wildcats still got there for the most part.
And that leads to another thing that’s also difficult to quantify, Woodson said on multiple occasions Sunday — his team needs to play harder. Unfortunately for him, he’s been saying that now for a month.
The second-year head coach is going to have to find new ways to get through to his players — both from an effort and an execution standpoint.
Northwestern scored 1.14 points per possession and only turned it over seven times. Their 9.5 percent turnover rate was a season high low for IU.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- Indiana basketball’s effort against Northwestern was not good enough
- Watch: Woodson, Jackson-Davis, Hood-Schifino discuss loss to Northwestern
- IU basketball: Northwestern 84 Indiana 83 — Three keys | Highlights | Final stats
- Jordan Geronimo will get first career start vs. Northwestern
- Long form highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (A-) He played the entire game, posted an absurd rebounding total and nearly got another triple double. If you were going to find something to pick at it might be his 8-of-19 shooting performance. But it isn’t clear how comfortable he is right now — and how that might be impacting his finishing at the rim. The bottom line is Jackson-Davis is giving everything he’s got right now.
Note: The 24 rebounds were the most by a Hoosier in a single game since Steve Downing had 25 against Kentucky on December 11, 1971.
Jordan Geronimo (F) Geronimo did very little to capitalize on his first career start. The defense was abysmal at the start of the halves when Geronimo was in the game. He seems slow to read and react on both ends.
Miller Kopp (C-) You can’t necessarily blame Kopp for his low shot volume — as IU is doing very little to get him open looks. His lone three came in transition. But his offensive limitations contribute to his limited production, and Kopp continues to find himself in tough spots on the defensive end.
Tamar Bates (C) Bates didn’t score in the first half, and his defense was suspect at times. But the sophomore guard did help a late effort to get back in the game.
Jalen Hood-Schifino (B+) The freshman point guard continues his impressive midseason ascent with a highly efficient scoring night. But his early turnovers and struggles guarding the ball helped create the early deficit.
Note: His 33 points were the most scored by an Indiana freshman since Eric Gordon had 33 on Nov. 12, 2007 against Chattanooga.
Trey Galloway (C+) He was good on the ball and guarding the perimeter — and IU was generally better defensively when Galloway was in the game. He still has to find ways to be more impactful on the offensive end, although IU has him standing a lot when he’s off the ball.
Malik Reneau (C) Perhaps this game was a step forward for Reneau, who still had fouls and turnovers but was 4-of-5 from the field. Indiana needs him to step up with Race Thompson out.
C.J. Gunn (C) Gunn seemed to give Indiana a bit of spark with his energy, but until he starts making shots whatever he brings is going to be marginalized. He’s coming in to shoot, so he shouldn’t be passing up these attempts — but Gunn continues to be an inefficient offensive player — and that’s not uncommon for freshmen.
In total, Indiana had 11 scholarship players healthy and available on Sunday. Race Thompson (knee) and Xavier Johnson (foot) were unavailable.
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