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Indiana basketball’s defense will have to slow down No. 20 Iowa

Justin Smith and Clifton Moore celebrate after a bucket against Nebraska on Jan. 14. Indiana will need key production from its interior in order to slow down Iowa Thursday (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Indiana pulled off its biggest win under Archie Miller last Saturday when the Hoosiers upset No. 6 Michigan State on the road.

The Hoosier defense contained the fire powered Spartan offense just enough and also had their best offensive output in over a month in the 79-75 in overtime win.

Thursday night, Indiana will have to shutdown another lethal offense when No. 20 Iowa comes to Bloomington. The Hawkeyes are currently 10thnationally in adjusted offense efficiency according to KenPom and second in the Big Ten in points per game (81.9), right behind Michigan State.

“Iowa coming in is as good as advertised, they have a great one-two punch inside with (Luka) Garza and (Tyler) Cook and they also have tremendous shooting and depth,” Archie Miller said. “They’re one of the best offensive teams we’ll see all season and mixing up their defenses and what not will give us some different looks and that’s our concern coming in.”

Iowa is also coming off a major win after beating No. 5 Michigan last Friday. Predominately known for their offense, the Hawkeyes had their best defensive performance in a conference game this year, holding the Wolverines to 59 points.

They pulled off the upset thanks to an 8-for-33 Michigan 3-point shooting night caused by Iowa switching up zone defenses effectively to keep the opponent off balance and out of sync.

“They’ll extend their defense after free throws and makes, which slows you down and obviously when they drop back you’re going to have to recognize the sort of zone they’re playing,” Miller said. “Whether its traditional or more of an odd front matchup. They can keep you off balance with that and take away the rhythm and they’ve done a nice job of that.”

Miller harped on Iowa’s size on the interior with Garza and Cook standing out the most as the Hawkeye big men combine for 31 points per game. Luckily for Indiana, Juwan Morgan will play Thursday after leaving the game with a shoulder injury against Michigan State.

A long with Morgan on the interior, Justin Smith is coming off a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds against the Spartans and De’Ron Davis contributed 12 points and six rebounds in a season high 25 minutes on Saturday.

Indiana’s new found depth down low is going to be beneficial if they want to stop Iowa’s interior game.

“Coach McCaffery and those guys do a tremendous job with their big guys in terms of them running and being physical,” Miller said. “(Garza) played a lot as a freshman and now he’s a sophomore but he’s a really good offensive player, they do a great job of being able to pound the ball inside, they force you to run, he’s got tremendous size and he’s got a really good game in terms of being able to score around the basket and also bring you away from the basket at times.”

The final key to beating Iowa on Thursday will come at the free throw line. Indiana lucked out on Saturday as Michigan State shot just 8-for-22 from the charity stripe.

The Hoosiers will have to stay out of foul trouble, especially with their big men, as Iowa is currently best in the Big Ten at 75-percent from the stripe and make nearly 20 free throws per game.

“We’ve been a pretty good team just in general of trying to play hard without fouling,” Miller said. “Trying to keep guys off the line, especially the Michigan State game and their inside guys really put it on us a little bit and got to the line, they just didn’t make them.”

Zain Pyarali

I am a junior from Edwardsville, Illinois majoring in Sports Media. I formerly worked for the Indiana Daily Student for two years serving as the Sports Editor and beat reporters for Men’s Basketball, Men’s Soccer, Baseball and Field Hockey during my time with the student newspaper. Currently I am the Men’s Basketball beat reporter for IU Student Television while I also broadcast games for BTN Student U. Email me: zpyarali@thehoosiernetwork.com and follow me on Twitter: @ZainPyarali

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