Indiana was able to break out of its shooting woes with a 66-46 rout of Northwestern on Sunday afternoon at Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers (11-7, 4-2) shot just 9-of-30 (30 percent) in the first half, but a 25-2 second half run began the drubbing of Northwestern.
Here’s our Rapid Reaction:
Important Game, Crucial Win
The Hoosiers will travel to East Lansing for a daunting meeting with Michigan State on Friday. From there, IU returns home to face Maryland with another opportunity to separate itself from the rest of the Big Ten’s mediocre field. A loss to Northwestern would have thrown the Hoosiers into the masses — but a resounding ?? victory has instead given Indiana promise for the foreseeable future.
With three consecutive Big Ten victories over Minnesota, Penn State, and Northwestern, the Hoosiers are now tied for third place in the conference at 4-2. Sunday’s meeting with Northwestern was an opportunity to solidify Indiana in the upper echelon of the Big Ten — and IU capitalized accordingly. Albeit a weaker conference than usual, this stretch has suddenly changed the discourse of Indiana’s season.
Defense Reigns Supreme
Northwestern was unable to click offensively for the entirety of Sunday’s game. At halftime, the Wildcats tallied just 19 points on 6-of-25 shooting. It’s no secret that Northwestern simply didn’t show up offensively on Sunday — however the defensive effort from Indiana deserves a fair share of the credit. All afternoon, clean looks were hard to come by for the Wildcats through challenged interior pressure from IU’s entire roster. The Hoosiers collected four blocks on the evening, including two first-half rejections from freshman forward Clifton Moore.
The first half was certainly not pretty, as the Hoosiers led 24-19 and struggled to find rhythm of their own. It appeared as if both teams would succumb to a low-scoring affair that Sunday’s game dictated, but Indiana was able to respond with a resounding 25-2 second-half run to put the game out of reach — a run that kept Northwestern from scoring for nearly five minutes.
Confident Rob Johnson
Plain and simple, Indiana is a different team when Robert Johnson is shooting well. And a hard one to beat. The senior guard arguably played his most effective game of the season — scoring a game-high 17 points on 5-of-11 3-point shooting. Along with his offensive output, Johnson also collected six rebounds and three assists to pace the Hoosiers on Sunday night. Outside shooting and guard rebounding has been a point of emphasis all season for Archie Miller in his first season — and a confident and aggressive Robert Johnson is the formula for both points of emphasis.