4 things we learned from IU’s loss to Ohio State

1. It was another offensive failure.
Indiana demonstrated signs of improvement during its previous two games against Michigan State and Iowa. The Hoosiers scored more than a point per possession in back-to-back contests for the first time since Jan. 11, moved the ball and tallied 38 assists in that span.

In Sunday’s 55-52 loss to Ohio State, IU took two steps backward.

Instead of building off recent efforts, the Hoosiers reverted to the version of themselves that bottomed out in January. They managed only .88 points per possession, produced only 52 points on 53 shots, looked static in the halfcourt and made only two of their first 14 3-point attempts on the afternoon. IU also finished with a season-low seven free throw attempts.

At this point in the conference season, only two Big Ten teams, Penn State and Northwestern, are operating more inefficiently than Indiana. The Hoosiers rank 13th in 3-point shooting (28.6 percent), 11th in effective field goal percentage (46.1), 11th in free throw percentage (68.1) and 10th in turnover percentage (17.8).

2. Justin Smith has struggled to follow up his performance against Michigan State.
The Hoosiers’ upset of the Spartans on Feb. 2 was the high point of Smith’s young college career. The sophomore was a visible and impactful contributor on both ends of the floor, giving Indiana a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds and providing the energy and results needed from his position.

Since that win in East Lansing, Smith hasn’t come close to recreating that performance.

He was a non-factor in IU’s game against Iowa, and although his eight points were the third-most for a Hoosier against Ohio State, Indiana was also outscored by 12 points during the 24 minutes Smith was on the floor.

3. Romeo Langford’s shooting consistency is improving.
One of the biggest weaknesses to Langford’s game seems to be on the upswing.

Across his past four games, the IU freshman guard is shooting 42 percent (11-for-26) from beyond the arc. Compare that with his first 20 games, when Langford was shooting merely 21 percent from 3-point range, and it’s an encouraging sign of growth.

His shot selection could stand to improve, but right now Langford is connecting at a decent clip. Prior to the Michigan State game on Feb. 2., Langford hadn’t hit multiple 3-pointers in back-to-back games all season. He’s made at least two in each of his past four contests.

Langford, who went 3-for-7 beyond the arc against Ohio State, had a chance for one more on Sunday. With IU trailing 54-52 in the waning seconds, Langford came around a screen and saw an off-balance 3-pointer rim out with 10.4 seconds to play.

“I’ve been in the gym working on it since Day 1, and I feel like my 3 is coming back,” Langford said. “I just missed the shot. It went in and out. You miss some and you make some, so that’s all that happened.”

4. De’Ron Davis is asserting himself as one of IU’s most valuable players.
During the past three games, it’s become clear just how much Indiana needs Davis on the floor.

With the 6-foot-10 junior in the low post, Indiana has a player functioning as both a capable scorer and a willing passer. Davis has 13 assists across the past three games, and once again helped IU from his spot in the paint late in the second half.

His inside-out dish to Devonte Green with 5:36 to play fed into a 3-pointer that got IU within three points. Moments later, Davis shifted up high to set a screen for Langford, who drilled a 3 from atop the key that tied the game at 47-47.

Generally speaking, Davis is doing a lot of good things at the moment, especially on the offensive end. During IU’s three games this month, IU has outscored opponents by a combined 21 points when Davis is in the game.

The only issue is Davis’ conditioning. After battling injuries for the past year, Davis is starting to look like himself again. But asking him to play more than 15-to-20 minutes might be asking too much.

Davis logged 17 minutes against Ohio State. After picking up his fourth foul with 4:33 to play, Davis was pulled from the game and did not return.

“De’Ron, I thought, was a big added bonus for us in the game,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “Again, he continues to play good minutes for us, so to have him in the game there maybe in those last two or three minutes with Juwan could have potentially helped us in a couple of those situations, but we didn’t have him in there.”