After two straight two point wins in Big Ten play, IU found a way to make things even closer. But they also found a way to win again — their third in a row after the loss to Duke, with all three wins coming against respectable opponents.
Louisville is a good team. Chris Mack is a really good coach. The Cardinals are going to be the real deal down the road. Any kind of win against a team like this is a good win, and can only help the resume in March.
Indiana fell behind early 14-6 and had to work for most the rest of the game to try to get the lead. The Hoosiers finally broke through at 51-50 with just under eight minutes to go and then held on for dear life.
IU moves to 8-2 on the season with the 68-67 win and will get the week off before facing Butler next Saturday in Indianapolis.
The overall grade wasn’t that good through the first 30 minutes, but once again, Indiana found a way to win. IU head coach Archie Miller summed up the effort at the end this way:
“For our guys, I give them a lot of credit. It’s a tough environment to bring anybody in here and play. It’s also finding a way to hang in there when things aren’t going well, make some adjustments on the fly, then finding a way to get to the last couple minutes of the game.
There was a lot of winning plays again. We’ve been in this situation it seems like for the last few weeks. I anticipate it being this way for the rest of the season. So to know a group can finish or find a way to finish with its offense or defense is good.”
Two key runs spurred the Hoosiers on to the win. Trailing 47-42 at 11:35 in the second half, IU used a 12-3 run to go up 54-50.
In the final 3:50 IU held the Cardinals to 2 of 7 shooting from the field, while it made all 3 of its field goal attempts and 7 of 12 from the free throw line.
WIth yet another day of poor three point and free throw shooting, at some point you just are who you are. Miller said coming into the season that this wasn’t a great shooting team — and that has proven to be true.
Perhaps more concerning than shooting the ball is a continued reliance on individual play rather than team concepts to score points. Indiana only had 10 assists on the game, and that number has been low for much of the season.
The Hoosiers were able to take care of the ball much better with just 10 turnovers, and they did that against a pretty good defense.
The bottom line with the offense is that IU is playing to its strengths. If they were jacking up 30 three pointers a game, we’d be concerned. Their two best players are able to create on their own, and as long as that is the case, the offense that you are seeing now will likely remain.
This is the second straight game that IU has held an opponent to under 40% shooting. Penn State shot 37.1% and Louisville finished at 38.3%, including 34.5% in the second half.
From the 8:15 mark in the second half to just :16 seconds remaining in the game, IU only allowed eight Louisville points, and three of those points were at the line. That translate to 40 points over 40 minutes. That stretch obviously sealed the game. Miller said this about his team’s ability to get stops late in games:
“The one thing that’s been evident with this group, we’re much better, we’re much tougher, we’re much bigger at times on the floor than we’ve been in the past. We’re able to get key stops at times to help us.”
The Hoosiers were clearly trying to keep the ball out of the post throughout the game, and for the most part they were effective, holding Steven Enoch to just three shots. With such a heavy emphasis down low, the perimeter defense was at times lacking, and IU only forced two first half turnovers.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (B+) Morgan was solid. Efficient from the field and effective on defense. He had a bit of a quiet night on the glass, but these things average out over time. He continues to be a strong passer on the block, and after several games in foul trouble, he had none in this one.
- Justin Smith* (B+) Miller said this about Smith — “If Justin is getting nine rebounds, playing 30 minutes, he gets nine points, doesn’t turn it over, that’s the guy he has to be for us now.” Smith’s effort rebounding the ball and otherwise has been noticeable over the last two games. While Jordan Nwora put up big numbers, Smith for the most part was in good position on a really tough cover. We continue to have the nit that developing a better off hand is a must.
- Romeo Langford* (A-) The fifth 20 point or more game, and he leads the Big Ten in free throws made. The guy is taking a beating. Indiana is relying heavily on Langford right now, and he is delivering big time, including with four assists to lead the team. He doesn’t get enough credit for his defense, including a critical late steal.
- Rob Phinisee* (B+) Both Miller and Mack said in the post-game that Phinisee is a reluctant shooter. That may be true, but he hit a triple with 8:36 to go to give IU its first lead of the game at 49-47, and gave IU the lead for good with another bomb with 1:25 to go. Much to our surprise he had no assists and three turnovers. Miller said this about his defense: “There’s very few freshmen guards that can do what he does for 33 minutes in terms of the defensive side of the ball, which we ask him to do.”
- Al Durham* (C+) This was an off game for Al, at least on the offensive end. We couldn’t help but notice that his shooting hand was heavily taped, which may have played a role in his 0-4 shooting night.
- Evan Fitzner (N/A) Fitzner played less than two minutes in the game, a major drop off from his average playing time. Is it a sign of things to come or just matchups? We shall see.
- De’Ron Davis (A-) Indiana got really solid minutes from the junior big man. He is clearly rounding into form and can be a real asset on the offensive end when this team needs points. Miller summed up his effort like this — “His 14 minutes tonight were really, really big. He did a great job.”
- Zach McRoberts (B-) McRoberts continues to be limited from a production standpoint. It will be interesting to see what a week off does for him as he continues to work his way back.
- Devonte Green (B-) The highs and lows of Devonte. He can have great moments and then follow them up with bad turnovers. Indiana really needs more steady play out of its junior guard.
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