Hoosiers Need To Regain Confidence After Home Loss To Nebraska

Confidence.

It’s an intangible that is taken for granted until it is gone, which is what has happened to the Indiana Hoosiers recently, most notably on Monday night when they were blown out at home against the Nebraska Cornhuskers 66-51.

Whether it’s because of a never-ending flow of injuries preventing the team to gel with each other or that being nationally ranked has inspired opponents to play the Hoosiers tougher without Indiana adjusting, confidence was missing from this IU squad as the Cornhuskers were able to do as they pleased.

“To be honest with you, we have some guys that have lost some confidence,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller, “whether it’s been in and out of lineups, in and out of practices, (we’re) not real sure what we are getting out of certain rotations.”

Indiana’s tendency for slow starts hit rock bottom when the Hoosiers found themselves in a 25-7 hole more than 10 minutes into the first half. The Hoosiers were able to get the deficit down to as little as six points in large part due to the Cornhuskers missing 12 shots in a row but ultimately settled for being down nine at the half despite shooting 29.6% from the floor.

The Hoosiers [12-5 (3-3)] looked to have found their rhythm at the start of the second half when they cut the lead to 35-32 with 16:31 left, but Glynn Watson Jr. helped the Cornhuskers recover quickly as he hit back-to-back threes during a Nebraska 8-0 run that basically iced the game as Indiana never got closer than nine from there.

Watson Jr. ended up scoring 12 of his team-high 15 points in the second half for the Cornhuskers [13-4 (3-3)] and almost got a triple-double out of James Palmer, who finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. In total, Nebraska had six players score at least seven points.

Meanwhile, Indiana had just two such scorers as Romeo Langford (18 points) and Juwan Morgan (17 points) combined for 35 of the team’s 51 points. The lack of help around Langford and Morgan again seems to point to lack of confidence.

In fact, Morgan and Langford scoring the majority of the Hoosiers’ points is trend that has inflated during the past four games. On the season, Morgan and Langford have combined for 600 points (46.6% of the team total) while the rest of the team has scored 688 points.

However, the numbers have drastically shifted since the calendar changed to 2019, with the duo scoring 162 of the Indiana’s 262 points (61.5%) against Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, and Nebraska. The only other player to score in double-figures in the last four games was Devonte Green when he scored 15 against Maryland.

Even if you remove all games against weaker mid-majors, you still have Morgan and Langford accounting for 248 of Indiana’s 508 points (48.8%) it scored against Marquette, Arkansas, Duke, Northwestern, Penn State, Louisville, and Butler.

This seems to indicate a lack of confidence in the Indiana role players as well as an overreliance on Morgan and Langford, something that is not necessarily bad in a vacuum (some teams are built around the scoring of one or two players) but goes against what the Hoosiers had previously succeeded with earlier in the season.

“We’ve got to get our grip on our identity. We’ve got to start to play harder again,” said Miller. “We just need some guys to play with some confidence, and tonight we didn’t have enough guys playing at a high level. Hopefully we can get there and get it back.”

There is no easy solution to regaining confidence, one must find it through hard work and determination. The Hoosiers will need to find that confidence quickly as four of the next five games are on the road with the only home game being against Michigan. Hopefully the loss to Nebraska was a wake-up call that the Hoosiers need to compose themselves in the face of adversity. If they can do that, then their confidence should return.

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Langford, Hoosiers Shake Off Illini To Improve To 3-0 In Big Ten Play

At least it wasn’t another one-score game.

Despite some sloppy play during the game’s first 11 minutes, the Indiana Hoosiers were able to enforce their will defensively during the final nine minutes of the first half and used Romeo Langford’s career-high 28 points to get past a feisty Illinois Fighting Illini team 73-65 on Thursday night.

The Hoosiers [12-2 (3-0)] fell behind 25-15 halfway through the opening half as the Illini used a frantic pace and made eight of the team’s first 13 shots to take control of the game early. Yet the offense and pace would flipped the other way for the remainder of the game as the Hoosiers clamped down on defense and took the ball to the basket instead of settling for long jump shots.

In fact, the Hoosiers’ defense was so suffocating that it forced the Illini to commit five shot clock violations during the final 30 minutes of the game and six in total. Indiana’s ability to prevent Illinois from getting up shots was not just the result of inspired play, but instead was the payoff of many tough practices.

“We work very, very hard in practice on 12-seconds-or-less-on-the-clock defense and at the end of the day you sort of know what you’re going to be dealing with,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. “You’re going to deal with high ball screens. You’re going to deal with some type of an action where you’re picking and popping; and for us we work on it every day.”

While the Fighting Illini [4-10 (0-3)] offense was blanketed, their defense was assaulted by Langford’s strong drives to the basket, especially in the second half where the freshman scored 19 of his career-high 28 points, including IU’s first 10 points after halftime.

“We knew going into the game, (the Illini) are a real aggressive team, so they like to play the passing lane. So that’s going to leave open driving lanes,” said Langford. “When we had that little slump scoring on the offensive end, I felt we weren’t driving. So when I got back into the game, Coach (Miller) told me I needed to get more aggressive to get us going, and that’s just what I did.”

Coming off his historic triple-double against Jacksonville, Juwan Morgan continued to fill up the stat sheet as he recorded his sixth double-double of the season, contributing 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Hoosiers.

Both Langford and Morgan will need to perform as well as they did Thursday, if not better, for the Hoosiers to have a chance on Sunday when they travel to Ann Arbor to face unbeaten Michigan.