Hoosiers fall 74-67 to Northwestern in Big Ten opener

In the end, the celebratory moments were Northwestern’s.

It was Wildcat forward Miller Kopp who could shake his fist with pride, having just placed a hand firmly over Race Thompson’s shot attempt in the post, forcing a jump ball and change of possession.

It was the Northwestern bench that could come off the sideline with swagger, swarming Chase Audige, after the Wildcat guard hit multiple big shots down the stretch in a 74-67 win at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

The Hoosiers (5-3, 0-1 Big Ten) had moments of their own. Trayce Jackson-Davis, who scored 15 of his 22 points in the final 20 minutes, was pumping both hands toward the sky, trying to “raise the roof,” after dunks that pushed IU to the lead. Armaan Franklin was burying 3s again. So was freshman Trey Galloway.

But in defeat, after a 12-0 run pushed Northwestern ahead for good, it was the lingering shadows of a poor first half, and the haunting images of Northwestern celebrating amid IU’s faultering, that conspired to reveal a harsh truth.

“Today, I thought we stunk on both ends of the floor,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “A lot of breakdowns, a lot of sloppiness, and it got us beat.”

There were the 16 turnovers, one of which came down the stretch, down by five with 30 seconds left, when IU guard Al Durham bounced a dribble off his foot. There was faulty defense on the perimeter, which allowed Northwestern to hit 21-of-31 on 2-point shots. At times, particularly at the end of the first half, IU had little clue on how to operate versus the Wildcats’ zone. 

There was a change in the Hoosiers’ energy level between the first and second halves, which was a positive, as they erased a nine-point halftime deficit and charged to the lead, 50-47, with just over 11 minutes left in the game. But then the Hoosiers crashed again.

“Disappointed for our guys and how we played, because I don’t think our team embraces playing that way,” Miller said. “I think we’ve shown we’ve played hard, we’ve played together. But tonight, for some odd reason, we were off-balance.

“Northwestern had a little bit to do with it, but I don’t think we did a good job on our end.”

Miller took full blame for the Hoosiers’ turnover issues, specifically. He also pointed to his somewhat shallow rotation, wondering if IU may have gotten somewhat fatigued late, thinking he maybe has to force more players onto the floor.

Whatever the issues, Miller knows the Hoosiers have to fix them, because a road trip to No. 18 Illinois is next up on the schedule.

IU flashed promise in the second half, but there were moments throughout the first half where IU’s shortcomings were exposed. Defensive rebounding — one of Miller’s biggest early-season concerns — reared its head as Ryan Young deposited a third-chance, and-1 bucket to give Northwestern (5-1, 2-0) an early 19-12 edge. IU had opportunities at the free throw line, too, but the Hoosiers hit just 3-of-8 in the first half.

A 3-pointer from freshman Khristian Lander cut it to 19-15, but the Wildcats went on a 14-3 run to up their edge to 33-18.

IU showed signs of life for a brief stretch, as Jackson-Davis pulled in a second-chance bucket, Galloway hit a zone-busting 3, and Armaan Franklin sank a runner in the lane, closing the deficit to 35-28 with under two minutes remaining in the half.

But especially late in the first half, IU seemed lost versus the Northwestern’s zone defense. Unable to do much more than pass around the perimeter, the Hoosiers came up empty on a couple of possessions, falling behind 37-28 at the break.

There were frustrating moments in that first half, including one where Jackson-Davis was beating his chest, pleading with him teammates to get him the ball more after a bucket.

“I thought I came out sluggish. I was getting frustrated,” Jackson-Davis said. “I let my emotions get the best of me early in the game.”

IU was hitting just 44 percent from the field going into halftime, while the Wildcats were a robust 55 percent from the floor. The Hoosiers also had just five assists to seven turnovers, and Franklin, a reliable source of offense as of late, was just 3-of-9 from the floor and 0-of-3 from 3.

A switch was flipped as the Hoosiers came out for the second half. IU played tough, sticky defense to force a shot-clock violation on Northwestern’s first possession, and Jackson-Davis followed up a missed layup by Franklin with a two-handed, putback dunk. For the second time in as many possessions, Jackson-Davis was signaling to “raise the roof” as he flushed another dunk, cutting the Northwestern lead to 37-36 with just under 18 minutes left.

Following some empty possessions for IU, Galloway became a catalyst. The Hoosiers figured out the Northwestern zone, finding Galloway in the corner again for a 3. He then found Franklin, who finished with 16 points, in transition for a layup to tie it at 47-all.

Franklin then followed that up with a 3 of his own, and IU finally had a lead, 50-47, with 11:23 remaining.

IU hit nine of its first 12 shots coming out of the locker room, just more energetic and active than in the first half. But then the tide changed as the Hoosiers missed seven of their next eight attempts from the floor, allowing the Wildcats to go on a 12-0 run, reclaiming a 62-54 edge with 5:32 left.

“We took the lead … but down the stretch, after that, I thought we were sloppy,” Jackson-Davis said. “When you do that against a good team, you get beat. That’s what happened.”

Jackson-Davis was able to break IU’s field goal drought with a drive and a one-handed slam, which was followed by Franklin’s second 3 in as many tries to cut it to 63-61.

But Audige buried a step-back 3 in Rob Phinisee’s face that pushed it back to 68-63 with just over two minutes left. Audige hit another jumper to push it back to 70-65 with 90 seconds remaining, and Kopp was able to tie up Thompson on a shot attempt underneath the basket, steepening the climb.

Phinisee hit two free throws with 30 seconds left to cut it to 70-67, but in the trading of free throws, a ball bounced off Durham’s foot late, giving Northwestern an extra pair to win by seven.

“I thought Northwestern just kept coming, they kept executing,” Miller said. “I thought we got fatigued, we had some bad possessions. They took advantage of it.”


  1. Wow, what a disappointment! Time to face reality. Anytime your starting guards are Durham and Phinisee, your team is in trouble. These are not guards on any quality team. Other than TJD and Franklin, this is a team needing a lot of help. I applaud Franklin, because you can see how much work he did in the off season to improve his game. He is the second best player on this team. There is no other player, besides those two as well as Galloway that gives me any confidence. Perhaps Lander, Leal and Geronimo develop. IU lacks talented big men and have for a long time. With Miller striking out on almost every recruit this year, it tells me the top high school players are not buying what he is selling. Now he will have to rely on grad transfers. I’m beginning to think the only coach after Knight that could have delivered a top 15 program every year was Kelvin Sampson. Too bad that didn’t work out.

    1. Good observation. I remember Calloway grabbed a rebound, and headed to the rim way too fast. Sampson barked “get the ball to a guard (Basset)”, Calloway said “Coach I am a guard,” Sampson said, “no, a real guard!”

  2. What a poor effort on our home court! Couldn’t stop Audige when it counted. When they needed a basket down the stretch, Audige just went one on one with whoever was guarding him and simply scored at will. I hate to say I told you so but after the first 2 games of the season I said that IU’s free throw shooting was going to cost them in close games. 67% free throw shooting didn’t help tonight. In the postgame Miller said they got beat a lot on dribble drives to the basket. He was very disappointed in their man defense. Said that they turned the ball over way to much. He said that several players played more than 35 minutes and that fatigue may have been a problem down the stretch. Said they need to develop more depth. Said that they are to sloppy with the ball right now! Said 15 or 16 turnovers is to many. Go Hoosiers!

    1. Archie you are responsible for substitutions! Play the “kids: Lander, Leal, Geronimo.” They are as good (or better) than your senior and junior. Lander, Galloway and Race were 4/4 on 3’s!

  3. The Indiana Mediocrities. I haven’t seen anything to believe they are capable of competing as an elite program.

    Please convince me that we are anything beyond mediocre. I don’t see it.

  4. The Big Ten once again will expose a team’s weaknesses in a hurry. The chinks in the armor are now apparent.

    Phinisee & Durham were disasters tonight. And frankly they haven’t impressed me at all this season outside of Durham in the FSU game.

    What I see is a kid like Franklin who buys in, improves himself in his 1st offseason physically & skillfully, & 2 guys at the same position who haven’t improved much at all.

    In this league you can’t take a half off & we’ve done that several times this year already and got away with it. We aren’t good enough to turn it on and off at will. TJD can do it, but most can’t. Where was 2nd half Race Thompson in the 1st half?

    Credit NW. They imposed their will on this game for 40 min. They changed defenses, spread the floor & had the depth to weather all storms we could muster. Then the NW kid just goes off & we had no answers. NW has a really good TEAM with danger at all positions and danger behind them ready to come in.

    I guess my commentary about playing other kids is going to come back to haunt this team. Fact is, outside of Phinisee & Durham, we are still young. (& Brunk isn’t available) When those 2 experienced guards don’t show up, we’re done.

    Also not impressed at all by Jerome Hunter’s defense. I know the kid can shoot, but that’s it.

    Archie’s press conference was pretty straightforward & honest. He tells it like it is.

    1. Correction, Durham’s best game was vs. Providence, not FSU. That said, he’s really more of a 1st back-up G off the bench. I’d start Galloway in his place & yank Phinisee with Lander if he wasn’t bringing it. (Like tonight!)

  5. Same thoughts but different names in the air at E. Lansing after NW thrashed them Sunday. I think it’s just being realized that NWBB is going to be good this year. I’m a strong RMK proponent but the parameters of the B1G and dynamics of CBB of the 21st century are nothing like we watched with him at the helm. I’ll say this any team that can hold that bunch under 75 played pretty fair D. Even without the intervention of the Coroni it’s gonna be a real interesting season.
    Go Hoosiers!!!

    1. You’re spot on…the Big Ten isn’t what it used to be. It is now filled with really good coaches from top to bottom. I don’t see the competitiveness of this league changing any time soon. There’s plenty of young talent out there, as evidenced last night. NW didn’t play a Sr. as I recall.

      The only perennial programs at the top of the league are MSU & Wisc. Back in the peak of our program, Wisc. & NW were 4 very high probability wins.

      I go back to leadership on the floor, & the lack thereof. Phinisee is clearly not a leader. I thought he was but he just isn’t. He’s not good enough. Durham is a “2 TO off my ankle/game” & he appears clueless. How many times did he walk the ball up the floor last night when we were down?!?! We didn’t get into our offense until there were 15 sec on the shot clock.

      We still need a guy to run the offense & do it with pace. The only guy I see that can do that is Lander & he’s 17 & full of a ton of mistakes (this year).

      1. I’ve been high on RP but it wears thinner every game he just doesn’t get the job done offensively but I fear Lander would be trashed playing D against the PG’s in this league his inaugural year. Another 3 point scorer would cover a lot of mistakes.

  6. Coach Miller, this is your roster of players and your excuses are going to wear thin, i.e. no fans in the stands(might still be a problem next year with the no-shows), bad effort on both end of the court your are the COACH. Coach Miller you might want to look at the women’s roster and see how a team is assembled. Coach Knight coached in a generation past, so did Branch McCracken, but both accomplished winning I U Basketball in their time period. I guess Henry Ford’s cars compared to today’s cars would be that Henry’s cars couldn’t compete with today’s cars.

  7. This is last year’s team. And until there is consistent three point scoring from someone, it will remain so. Hitting free throws would be a huge improvement, but a consistent three point threat (more than one player) would be transformative. I hold out hope that the freshman class will provide this (3 for 3 against NW, the rest of the team was 4 for 15.) Maybe Parker Stewart will help.

      1. Yes, they were. But I doubt Race is on the cusp of becoming a reliable three point shot. His 1/1 is mostly impressive in that there was only the one. He was 0/2 from 3 against Butler, both shots that were wrong before he even let the ball go.

        That 1/1 was within the flow of the moment and he was well set to take the shot. It was a thing of beauty before it left his hands. I don’t think such opportunities will present themselves often enough to count on him from 3.

        Hopefully, last years team can keep above water until the Freshmen get up to speed.

  8. The team has the potential to be very strong…

    My most troubling concern is the affirmation of poor play present in the cardboard cutout fans’ frozen state of gleefulness. Should have had rotating cardboard cutouts with booing speech bubbles and ‘WTF’ facial expressions when we start stinking up the place.

    What if you gave a kid a timeout and sent him/her to their room for an hour with gleeful cardboard cutouts of mom and dad plastered on the walls…?

    I think we’re sending some weird form of subliminal defeatism/softness with all the smiling selfie faces and pet pictures surrounding the court.

    Can we just fill the ‘Simon-Skjodt Five Dusty Banner Museum’ with thousands of cutouts of Knight really pissed off? “NO!!! You’re staying in your room until you make a god damn shot!”

    I get it…We all want to send in the happy face cutout to see on TV. But we didn’t think this out. You have to consider the false affirmation and mixed signals this sends an athlete. Coach is completely ticked off and we’ve wallpapered the perimeter of McCracken with ‘The Miller High Life Cardboard Zone’ of faces happier than a toddler glued to Barney & Friends?

    Just seems wrong. Could create some indifference in performances due to the confusion of poor actions/play matched with inappropriate facial/body language of creepy onlooker.

  9. Furthermore, the frozen home court smiles probably has a bigger effect than a boo for pissing off a visiting opponent, too.

    Chase Audige: “I’ll show you what you can do with your smart-ass, happy-go-lucky smirk and laughter you’re throwing at me,, Mr. Converted Mayflower Shipping Box. Keep smiling while I drop another impossible bomb, jerk…We’re now up a dozen on your candy cane stripes. Like that one I made, too? Consider it one of many stocking stuffers I’m gone to deliver through all your twinkly smiling night.”

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