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COLUMN: Michigan State wasn’t a fluke

When Indiana forward Juwan Morgan and guard Romeo Langford walked into the press room following the 77-72 loss against No. 20 Iowa, they didn’t hold their heads low. When asked about the game, they were responsive and engaged. They were positive. There is a reason for that.

On Thursday, we learned that Michigan State wasn’t a fluke.

“This game right here, it’s going to be evaluated just like Michigan State,” Archie Miller said. “Are we in check with our attitude; did we come together; did we play hard, and did we play unselfish, and I think we did a lot of those things.”

The narrative that fueled the anticipation for Thursday’s game against Iowa was one that asked a simple question.

Was Indiana’s win over Michigan State a blip in an all but over season or did it actually mean something?

As cliché and unnecessary as it is to utilize moral victories to quantify a game, Indiana can confidently understand that this was another step in the right direction.

“I wasn’t terribly disappointed in our team tonight,” Miller said. “I thought we were really together again offensively, whether it was the man or the zone we continued to be able to get 17 assists in the game, which is something we’ve got to keep doing and we shot a good percentage.”

The Hoosiers took the confidence that fueled them in East Lansing and quite clearly brought it with them to Assembly Hall.

After starting the season shooting an abysmal clip from three-point range, the Hoosiers were a modest 7-for-21 against the Hawkeyes. In addition, the Hoosiers found a go-to option from three in sophomore guard Al Durham who was 2-for-5.

The confidence that fueled the Hoosiers also facilitated a team effort that looked more cohesive than ever before. Indiana played smarter and worked harder.

Part of the fuel behind the Hoosiers shift in play has been the emergence of a healthy De’Ron Davis. A year ago, Davis addressed the media about his Achilles injury. He emphasized that the play he had shown in his career was not the play to expect from him when he recovered. Davis wanted to get back to what made him successful in high school, and Thursday night showed that. With seven assists, five rebounds and not a single turnover, Davis displayed just how much better he makes those around him.

“He just has a great feel for the game,” Morgan said about Davis. “He knows where guys are and he doesn’t really force anything. He just takes his time in there, he finds open guys, and he makes the right pass.”

In the end, what killed Indiana was the 20th best team in the country and their lethal shooters.

“We closed out soft and we — what I mean by that, is we closed out short,” Miller said. “We were short on a lot of close-outs and they got range, and you know, Weiskamp got going early in the game. I think he made all four of his threes in the first half.”

The Hawkeyes shot 10-for-25 from behind the arc and any team that does that is rarely going to lose. Defensively, Indiana lacked an answer for Iowa forward Tyler Cook and for the plethora of shooting talent on the Hawkeyes.

In the pack-line defense, defending the perimeter is always going to be the most difficult part. Thursday it was, and that’s okay.

In a five-point loss, Indiana took another step in the right direction. A step that has come right at the buzzer of Indiana’s season.

With wins against Marquette, Louisville, and Michigan State, the Hoosiers have just enough on their resume to stay alive moving forward. Now, it’s just about taking one more step forward against Ohio State on Sunday.

Eddie Cotton

I am a senior from Long Island, New York. I’m currently studying Marketing in the Kelley School of Business along with Journalism in The Media School at Indiana University. I want to tell stories and help others tell their own. I want to provide a unique perspective. Most importantly, I want to entertain. The Hoosier Network is the ideal place to do that. Follow me on twitter @EdwardKoton15 Email me at ekoton@umail.iu.edu. Please, pretty please, venmo me at @EdwardKoton

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