Thursday night wasn’t the return to Big Ten play Hoosier fans were hoping for, as Indiana fell to the Iowa Hawkeyes on the road 91-89. The Hoosiers will get a couple days of rest before returning to Assembly Hall to take on the Northwestern Wildcats.
Especially considering how Indiana started the game, this was definitely the most disappointing loss of the season thus far. It almost felt awfully similar to last year’s game against Wisconsin in the Kohl Center, where the Hoosiers blew another 20+ point on the road early in Big Ten play. Here are three other things I took away from Thursday night’s game.
50/50 balls killed IU
A huge reason Iowa managed to come back the way it did was winning the 50/50 balls. The Hawkeyes didn’t shoot the ball particularly well in the first half, or even overall. However when push came to shove, it felt like whenever a ball was up for grabs, an Iowa player managed to find the ball and give the Hawkeyes a second chance to score.
Building off that, Iowa also seemed to make more timely shots than Indiana did. When they needed a 3-pointer, guys like Kris Murray would hit a big 3 or get a basket plus a foul to put more pressure on the Hoosiers. Especially considering the crowd at Carver Hawkeye Arena certainly came out, IU got rattled a couple of times by the pressure, leading to the eventual loss.
This game had felt like the opposite of past games
I’ve written it in past, but I felt like every game prior to Friday night had been an effort from Indiana to avenge its slow start in the first half. Whether this be missing open shots, turning the ball over, or showing minimal energy, the second half was almost the complete opposite as the first in games prior to this past one.
In this one, the Hoosiers shot the 3-ball really well to start out the game, as well as showing great effort on the defensive end. But Race Thompson’s injury really killed the momentum Indiana had, resorting to a complete opposite second half that we had seen in the first. Indiana could now be without two of its starters for the foreseeable future.
Xavier Johnson and Thompson’s defense are missed heavily
Just one of IU’s best defenders went down a little less than a month ago in Xavier Johnson against Kansas, the Hoosiers lost another key defender in Thompson on Thursday. A huge reason that the Iowa Hawkeyes were able to score 91 points on an Indiana defense that started out the year so strong was Johnson and Thompson’s absence, as both are so talented at turning their opponents over.
Now there are a number of guys who we could see Mike Woodson give the assignment of filling in for Thompson for the foreseeable future. Malik Reneau and Jordan Geronimo are two names that come to mind because they have been a big part of Woodson’s rotation. However, I think this opens the door for Logan Duncomb to prove himself on a bigger stage. Duncomb played well against Elon when his number was called, and I could very well see Woodson doing the same thing with the thin frontcourt depth he has.