Three Ways IU Can Rebound From Current Three Game Losing Streak

At the midpoint of the college basketball season, the Indiana Hoosiers are going in the wrong direction. The Hoosiers’ 75-68 loss against the Wisconsin Badgers on Tuesday night marked the third straight loss for Indiana and fourth loss in six games.

However like I said, there is still a second half of the season to play and plenty of time for the Hoosiers to rebound from this slump and peak going into March. Here are three ways Indiana can improve during the rest of the season:

More De’Ron Davis: There was a five-minute span in the second half against Wisconsin when De’Ron Davis could not be stopped. Against Badger forwards Ethan Happ and Nigel Hayes, Davis was unfazed as he was given the ball in the post on four of six possessions, scoring three times and splitting a pair of free throws on the fourth possession.

As we near midseason, Davis is now 100% healthy and is ready for more playing time. He doesn’t need to necessarily start every game with Thomas Bryant, even though the two have worked well together quite often. Davis has been brilliant offensively in the post on a limited basis, and having out on the court more may help draw defenses’ attention from the three-point line where the Hoosiers have shot just 32.8% (20 of 61) the last three games.

Avoid Live-Ball Turnovers: With the pace that Indiana plays, getting rid of turnovers altogether is going to be a tall order to fill. However, the Hoosiers can make their lives so much easier if they just limited live-ball turnovers.

The Hoosiers are capable of neutralizing their high turnover rate because their elite offensive rebounding creates enough second-chance shots to even it out. Yet it’s when a turnover is compounded by an easy basket by the opposition that it becomes too hard for the Hoosiers to overcome their mistakes. Nebraska, Louisville, and Wisconsin averaged 21 points off of turnovers during Indiana’s current losing streak. Cut that number in half and Indiana would have won two of those games.

Avoid Getting Into Big Holes: One reoccurring theme in all five of Indiana’s losses this season is that the Hoosiers have fallen behind by double-digits, causing them to exert all of their energy to even up the game again only to run out of gas near the end.

  • Fort Wayne led by 10 with 16:04 left in the first half, and then led by 12 with 9:49 left in the second half
  • Butler led by 14 at half and by as much as 16 with 19:23 left in the second half
  • Nebraska led by 12 with 10:33 left in the first half
  • Louisville led by 12 at half and by as much as 16 with 5:50 left in the second half
  • Wisconsin opened the game on a 13-0 run and led by 14 with 16:09 left in the first half

Compare that to the North Carolina game, where Indiana never trailed at all during the game. Of course it’s unrealistic to expect that in every game so let’s compare it to the Kansas game:

The Jayhawks’ biggest lead was by nine points with 18:44 left in the second half. Over the next four minutes, the Hoosiers responded with a 14-5 run that tied the game up at 56. From there the lead changed 15 times and was tied another eight times before Indiana came out on top. The reason IU did come out on top was that they took a five point lead with 3:45 left in the second half and effectively flipped the script with Kansas having to claw its way back.

I’m not saying the Hoosiers are incapable of overcoming double-digit deficits. It’s just that the Hoosiers need to find out a way to avoid falling behind by so much, because it’s a lot easier to win a game when your sole focus doesn’t become trying to overcome a big deficit.

 

Mistake-Free Indiana Able To Hold Off Rival Purdue

The Indiana Hoosiers’ Achilles’ Heel all season has been turnovers and so the question became “how good would the Hoosiers be if they didn’t commit turnovers?”

They answered that question on Saturday when IU committed only four turnovers as they beat archrival Purdue 77-73 to break a three-game losing streak in the series.

The Hoosiers went the first 17:06 of the first half without committing a turnover and only had one at half while the Boilermakers had eight. The four total turnovers for the game ties for the fewest by the Hoosiers in the last three seasons.

“We want to play fast, we just don’t want to play reckless,” said Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean about how the team’s mindset led the way for there being so few turnovers. “I think (our players) have a lot of respect for Purdue. They know how good that defense is. They put a lot of pressure on you. So to me, we needed to make the simple play.”

Indiana (22-6, 12-3) also showed it has multiple players who can take a game over at a moment’s notice. The first half featured Troy Williams and Kevin “Yogi” Ferrell ripping apart Purdue’s defense as the duo accounted for 28 of IU’s 35 first half points. In the second half, Thomas Bryant scored the Hoosiers’ first seven points of the second half while Max Bielfeldt had all of his 10 points and 6 rebounds after halftime, including a stretch where he was responsible for eight points during a 12-0 IU run.

Williams led all scorers with 19 points and in the process became the 49th Hoosier to score 1,000 career points. Ferrell also broke out of his shooting slump as he went 7 of 13 from the floor to score 18 points.

The Boilermakers (21-7, 9-6) were led by freshman big man Caleb Swanigan, who had 14 points and eight rebounds. He was also a key player behind Purdue’s 21-9 rally during the final seven minutes of the game, in which he scored half of his points.

Purdue almost had a shot to tie or take the lead when A.J. Hammons blocked Ferrell’s drive to the basket with 7.1 seconds left but was called for goaltending. Despite looking like a questionable call in the moment, replay showed that Hammons touched the rim during the block attempt which by rules certifies a goaltend. Indiana was able to hang on from there.

The Hoosiers won’t play until this Thursday when they travel to face Illinois. The game will be at 9pm eastern time and will be on ESPN.

From The Boxscore:

  • For those of you who want proof that Indiana only turned the ball over four times (and I don’t really blame the skepticism), here is a list of the four turnovers and what happened during those possessions:
    1. The first one didn’t come until the 2:54 mark of the first half and it came on a Robert Johnson offensive foul, which technically counts as a turnover because you did something that gave the ball to the opponent without the reason being a missed shot.
    2. The second one came with 9:07 left in the second half and was credited to Yogi Ferrell.
    3. Max Bielfeldt committed the third one with 7:36 left in the second half.
    4. It wasn’t until the fourth and final turnover that Purdue made Indiana pay for a mistake. Ferrell’s second turnover of the game with 44 seconds left was a result of a Purdue player poking out the ball from behind while Ferrell was dealing with the press in front of him. P.J. Thompson got the steal and assisted on a Dakota Mathias three-pointer that made it a one-possession game.
  • This is the third time in the last 20 years that the Hoosiers have won 12 of their first 15 Big Ten games. The other times were 2008 and 2013.
  • Ferrell, after shooting 10 of 40 his last four games, ended his slump when he made 7 of 13 on Saturday.
  • This was Ferrell’s 130th career start at IU which ties him with Christian Watford for the most career starts by a Hoosier.
  • Troy Williams becomes the 49th Hoosier with 1,000 career points and the eighth player to do it under IU head coach Tom Crean.
  • Having only 4 turnovers to Purdue’s 13 is great, but what’s even better is that IU had 20 points off turnovers compared to Purdue’s 3 points off turnovers.