After a win the first time around against Northwestern in December, Indiana paid a visit to Evanston Tuesday for a rematch with the Wildcats in what turned into a 73-66 loss for the Hoosiers.
Indiana’s fifth straight loss drops the Hoosiers’ record to 12-7 and 3-5 in the Big Ten.
Tuesday’s game was a roller coaster in Evanston with the Hoosiers starting off strong, up 20-12 early, before the offense went stagnant and found themselves down 28-24.
The second half was all Northwestern getting, as the Wildcats got the lead up to 15 points around the midpoint of the half before Indiana made a last ditch effort to come back, but it was too little, too late.
Here are my three takeaways from Indiana’s fifth straight loss.
Dererk Pardon exposes Indiana (again)
A consistent struggle throughout the game was the dominating presence of Northwestern senior center Dererk Pardon. Pardon was all over the Hoosiers as he dropped 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting along with six rebounds and two blocks.
This isn’t new for Pardon and the Hoosiers though. During the last meeting between the two programs Pardon accounted for 10 points over his average, totaling 24 points on 11-of-15 shooting in Bloomington.
— ???????????? ?????????? (@NUMensBball) January 23, 2019
Pardon isn’t the biggest center around, only 6-foot-8, and only having an inch on Indiana senior forward, Juwan Morgan. But he sure does cause issues for Indiana. It’s tough for Morgan to consistently have to play defense on guys bigger than him both in height and in frame, and Pardon has had his number twice now.
We’ve seen similar episodes with big guys like Daniel Gafford of Arkansas and Bruno Fernando of Maryland. While Pardon played well, the Hoosiers only allowed 14 points in the paint.
Indiana will have to better adjust to guarding post players before Friday when they’ll host talented big men, Ignas Brazdeikis and Jon Teske of No. 5 ranked Michigan.
Romeo Langford is in a slump
After having his worst game as an Indiana Hoosier in a 70-55 Purdue loss where he had four points on Saturday, Indiana freshman guard Romeo Langford was due for a bounce back.
However, Langford proceeded to have 12 points on four-of-10 shooting with six rebounds and two assists. The 12 points are six below his season average of 18 and almost all of them came in the second half when Indiana was rallying in desperation to come back.
The shooting guard only had three points and three shot attempts at the half. Throughout the game Langford went through stretches where he was very active on offense and there were times where he was nonexistent.
— Indiana On BTN (@IndianaOnBTN) January 23, 2019
For Indiana’s sake, Langford needs to be far more aggressive. Him and Morgan are its top two offensive options and carry the load for this team. If either of them aren’t producing, the Hoosiers aren’t winning.
In addition, the best way to break a slump is to see the ball go through the hoop and score. If Langford’s shot volume increases a ton when trying to find his rhythm, then so be it. Langford needs to get the ball in the bucket for the Hoosiers to have success.
The freshman needs to get more looks, settle into games and score the ball more. It’s the best thing for both him and his team.
IU’s three-point shooting slump
The Hoosiers have had their fair share of consistent struggles this year. Free throw shooting, turnovers and most specifically, three-point shooting are three areas where they have struggled.
Shooting from beyond the arc was the stark difference between the teams tonight.
The Hoosiers shot a measly four-of-21 (19 percent) from three. Two of those came within the last three minutes, three of them came from freshman point guard Rob Phinisee, and one from sophomore guard Al Durham.
The last time Indiana made 4 or fewer 3-pointers in three straight games was January 2014:
54-47 L vs N’western (4-18)
71-66 L vs Mich St. (4-10)
56-46 W vs ILL (3-12)
Hoosiers are currently in the midst of a 10-for-55 3-point stretch over the past three games. #iubb
— Zain Pyarali (@ZainPyarali) January 23, 2019
When comparing that to Northwestern’s shooting from the perimeter, the Wildcats went 10-of-24 (41.7 percent). Nothing insane, but nothing that the Hoosiers have showed to be capable of matching.
The team on the season is shooting the deep ball at 34.3 percent. Only three Hoosiers who have more than five shot attempts on the year are at 40 percent or above: Durham, Morgan, and Phinisee. Durham leads the team in shooting from distance with a 40.8 percent clip.
The team is going to need to step it up from the three-point line if they want a shot a win on Friday when they host the fifth ranked and 18-1 Michigan Wolverines.