In the most painstaking way possible, IU has followed up a successful weekend with another victory.
The first win occurred when the team finished off the season sweep over then 8th-ranked Iowa, winning 67-65 on a mid-range jumper drained by Armaan Franklin with only 1.6 seconds left on the clock.
This time around, it took two extra periods of overtime for IU to finally put Northwestern away, winning the game 79-76.
Throughout the season, the team has seemed unable to score two good wins in a row. While the Big Ten truly is a monster of a conference, IU frequently does not capitalize following a strong win.
"We needed it more"
It's been tough for Indiana to keep it rolling in games following big wins.
On Wednesday night, @aldurham01 knew how important it was to get over the hump. #iubb pic.twitter.com/FpfMNMDSP8
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) February 11, 2021
The last time that IU beat Iowa, IU followed that up with two straight losses, falling by four to both Rutgers and 12th-ranked Illinois.
This same progression happened at the beginning of the season. After opening the Maui Invitational with a convincing win over Providence, they were run out of the gym by Texas. Sure, Texas appears to be an incredible team this year, but with the expectations that many have had for IU long-term, at some point the team needs to win that game, or at least keep it close.
As mentioned during the broadcast, IU head coach Archie Miller holds just a 2-9 record after a win over a ranked opponent. This was a great time to pick up a win.
Standing now at 11-8 overall with a 6-6 conference record, the Hoosiers really needed to capitalize on their momentum from the Iowa win to start to move themselves off of the bubble conversation and work to stand firmly in NCAA tournament contention.
“Right now, in this league, every one of these things counts,” Miller said.
Thanks to a variety of factors, IU was finally able to follow up the ranked win with a second straight victory.
“I think tonight we got a couple key stops, we were able to execute, we made a couple free throws, and we were able to win the game,” Miller said after the game.
While IU started off shooting poorly from the free-throw line, the team ended up with 27 makes off of 38 total attempts from the line.
Trayce Jackson-Davis had an off night scoring the ball, with only 10 points on just 5-for-11 shooting and only two attempts from the line. However, he was able to pull in a game-leading 14 rebounds.
Franklin had another standout performance, banking 23 points, while Al Durham had 24 points. The two also combined for a very reliable 18-for-20 from the free-throw line.
And while this win was certainly an important one to have, Northwestern has been a struggling team as of late. After winning three games to start conference play, they have rattled off 10 straight losses.
In order to continue this momentum, IU will have to get through a tough Ohio State team that is currently ranked fourth in the nation. If IU wants to stand a chance in that game, the team is going to need to start off far better than it did against Northwestern. A win over Ohio State would certainly put IU in a strong position in the Big Ten and in the national picture.
Let’s see if they can make it happen and ride this momentum.
Building momentum on the recruiting trail
IU's wins weren't only on the court this week. The next success after the Iowa win for the team happened while many were watching the Super Bowl halftime show. Dedicated IU fans, however, had their eyes glued to Twitter, where 4-star shooting guard CJ Gunn announced his commitment to Indiana.
— CJ Gunn (@CJ_Gunn22) February 8, 2021
The Indianapolis native is a member of the class of 2022 and is the first member of that class for IU. Gunn currently stands just outside of the top-100 for the 2022 recruiting class.
With Al Durham set to graduate, Gunn would provide increased depth at the guard position. He will also add solid height to the position, standing at 6-foot-5.
With what looks to be a very small 2021 recruiting class, this is a great rebound for Miller, already finding success for the next class.