Hoosiers tasked with recreating energy at Iowa

It was a physical and emotional back-and-forth, the kind of rivalry atmosphere that coaxed a better effort from Indiana.

Tuesday’s showdown with Purdue didn’t yield the winning result the Hoosiers have been so desperate to achieve during these past seven weeks, but the 48-46 loss did provide a look at what Indiana can achieve by simply playing hard.

Now, with a trip to No. 21 Iowa on deck Friday night, the Hoosiers’ primary challenge is clear. For Indiana to have any shot of securing another upset victory on the road, it must start with recreating the effort level it sustained against the Boilermakers.

At this point, doing so feels easier said than done for a team that has dropped 11 of its last 12 games, tumbling into the Big Ten cellar in the process. With Indiana, there’s no guarantee what the Hoosiers will look — or play — like on a given night.

But even with a misfiring offense and a roster battling waning confidence levels, the Hoosiers saw on Tuesday how simply sustaining energy and emotion can propel them through these late-February conference contests.

Indiana’s objective now is turning that energy into a winning effort.

“We’re going to have to be that way in every game,” Miller said. “And if we’re not, then we know that we’re not gonna be good enough to win. That effort level right there is something, hopefully, you can build on and hang your hat on.”

That’s Miller’s hope, at least, especially on the defensive end of the floor.

Although Purdue did Indiana a favor with its questionable early shot selection, missing nine of its first 12 shots of the game, the Hoosiers also authored one of their best defensive efforts of the season earlier this week.

Considered the fifth-most efficient offense in the country, per KenPom.com, Purdue was held 26 points below its season scoring average. The Boilermakers also posted their third-worst shooting effort (31.7 percent) and their lowest percentage from beyond the arc (20.0). Purdue’s four made free throws also tied a season low.

Indiana also took pride in holding Carsen Edwards, the Big Ten’s leading scorer, to a 4-for-24 night from the field and a 0-for-10 effort from 3-point range.

Against an Iowa team ranked third in the Big Ten in adjusted offensive efficiency, compiling similar results on Friday is IU’s next mission.

“I think it’s maybe our best defensive performance of the season against a really good offensive team,” Miller said. “I’m sure Purdue felt like they could have made more shots, as well, but it was definitely a game that as you look at it and you hang your hat on what can you control. Our effort level was right there for 40 minutes. We had very little lapses at times during the game, lockouts, we had balls come off the rim and hit the floor. Guys were really dialed in and doing that, and without question, in this league and how we want to do things, that’s the type of identity you want to have, especially in that type of game, the competitiveness.”

The last time Indiana and Iowa squared off, the Hoosiers were coming off their shocking upset victory at then-No. 6 Michigan State. IU played well in the 77-72 loss to the Hawkeyes, but had no answer for the clutch shooting of Jordan Bohannon and Joe Wieskamp.

Several times in that contest, Indiana defended Iowa deep into the shot clock before the Hawkeyes found ways to salvage the possession with last-moment shots.

Staying positive, even when things stack against them, has been an emphasis for the Hoosiers since Saturday’s poor showing at Minnesota.

That’s the first step toward putting forth the effort needed to compete in games down the stretch.

“I feel like we’ve just got to keep locked in on defense,” sophomore guard Al Durham said. “We had a great defensive mindset against Purdue last game, and I feel like if we keep doing that and keep going forward that we can be successful in some of these games.”