Indiana basketball dropped its second consecutive game Sunday, as the Hoosiers fell 84-83 in the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats. IU now falls to 1-3 in the Big Ten, as the team stands tied for second to last in the conference only ahead of 0-4 Minnesota.
The score of this game was quite misleading, as Northwestern played a much better and more complete game than the Hoosiers. In the Big Ten, it is essential to win home games and try and steal a couple on the road, and Indiana missed a big opportunity with a loss against the Wildcats. Here’s what else I took away from Sunday afternoon.
Turnovers cost IU this game
The Hoosiers tallied up 16 total turnovers on the day, well above their season average of 12.8 turnovers per game. A big part of this was the defensive pressure that Northwestern applied throughout the game, which forced Indiana into some poor decision making and resulted in baskets on the other end for the Wildcats.
It also surely didn’t help that Northwestern only turned the ball over seven times this game. This almost reminded me of the Kansas game in a sense, where the Hoosiers buried themselves early with giving up too many points off turnovers and made it hard to come back. Being the gritty conference the Big Ten is, this won’t be the last time that IU faces the defensive pressure that Northwestern presented on Sunday.
Is offense no longer the problem?
In the beginning of the year, IU’s defense was playing at an extremely high level, forcing teams such as Xavier and North Carolina into double digit turnovers. However, many had questioned if Indiana could score the ball at a high level consistently, as this group has a track record of being inconsistent offensively. But as the Hoosiers have let up an average of 87.5 points per game in their past two games, the question now becomes is the defense problem that IU faces?
Surely, a big part of this was the absence of Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson, who were essential parts to this Indiana defense. And because of this, it seems as though offense has become more of this team’s identity, especially considering the team has averaged 86 points in its past two contests. However, as the old adage goes, “defense wins championships” and the Hoosiers have some things to figure out of the defensive end.
A chance to respond to adversity is right there on Wednesday
Surely it's been a bit of a disappointing resumption to Big Ten play for this Indiana team, and there are lots of questions surrounding the team considering IU will face much more challenges as the season progresses. But as crazy as it sounds, this team has a great opportunity to wipe away some of that doubt this Wednesday.
The Hoosiers will travel to take on Penn State on Wednesday, and it would be enormous for the Hoosiers to pick up a road conference win after missing their chance to get one last Friday against Iowa. Indiana took a loss against Micah Shrewsberry’s team last year on the road, so there’s also a little revenge aspect for the Hoosiers in this one as well.