In a game that came down to the wire in Evanston, Indiana basketball ended its three-game winning streak in the hands of the Northwestern Wildcats 64-62. The Hoosiers will travel back to Bloomington where they will face the Illinois Fighting Illini for the second time this season.
There are a lot of similarities I could name from the game against Northwestern back in January and this one on Wednesday night. IU turned the ball over way more than the Wildcats, falling behind early, and a pretty good job on the glass. But I wanted to focus on some of the key differences in this one, as I feel like if some of these went the other way, we might see a different result on the scoreboard.
Struggling from 3-point range
Last time around against Northwestern, Indiana shot the ball very well from 3-point land. The team shot an even 50% from beyond the arc and Jalen Hood-Schifino led the way with five 3-pointers of his own. These shots going in were a huge reason why the Hoosiers were able to make a second-half surge and cut the deficit so quickly.
However, IU really struggled from 3-point range in Evanston on Wednesday night. The team shot 27.3% on the night, only making three total shots from beyond the arc. Indiana has struggled from 3-point land when away from Assembly Hall, and that will be an issue IU needs to solve if this team wants to make a run in March.
Foul trouble in the first half hurt Indiana
In the first half of the game back in January, the Hoosiers had only committed four fouls. The story of that first half was Northwestern taking advantage of the Indiana turnovers and being able to go on a run. However, Wednesday night was officiated tighter and it seemed as though the refs were calling everything on both sides.
Where the Hoosiers found themselves in trouble was these calls allowed the Wildcats to get in the bonus with around seven and a half minutes left in the first half. Northwestern did a great job from the line, going 14-for-14 and punishing Indiana for all the fouls. However, a call that really hurt Indiana was a double technical foul on both Mike Woodson and the Indiana bench. This allowed the Wildcats to make four free throws in a row and eventually open up a 21-point lead.
Too much one-on-one basketball in the first half
That technical foul seemed like it sent Indiana into a spiral offensively. Uncharacteristic and forced shots were taken for the rest of that first half, and it seemed as though the Hoosiers became desperate for any sort of basket. IU had really gotten away from what it did so well on that three-game winning streak — moving the ball around and getting open shots.
Even compare the assist totals from the first halves from the two games. In January, the Hoosiers scored 34 points off eight assists, whereas on Wednesday night, the Hoosiers only scored 20 points on three assists. Indiana did a better job establishing its offense in the second half, however I think we’ve learned that constant ball movement is the key to this team making a run down the road.