Hoosiers look to get right on the road

In a win over No. 21 Iowa, Indiana coach Archie Miller saw a team that was about the right things.

They rebounded. They got to the free throw line. They didn’t turn the ball over — or not until the second half, at least, when the lead was large enough to sustain a few errors.

But as this season has shown, the Hoosiers haven’t been a model of consistency. They haven’t always been right, and as they head to Michigan for today’s 1 p.m. tip, Miller knows they haven’t been right in one crucial way.

“We definitely have not been right on the road,” the third-year coach said. “Hopefully down the backstretch, which we have a few to go, we can play better on the road. And got to be more together and tougher to be able to go into Michigan on Sunday and have a chance.”

Down the backstretch, as the Hoosiers’ NCAA tournament prospects become ever more clear, the road will play an outsized role in determining the end result. Four out of the next five will be played away from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, starting with Michigan and Minnesota.

After a return home for No. 13 Penn State, IU heads back to the road to face Purdue and Illinois.

If the Hoosiers (16-8, 6-7 Big Ten) just hold serve at home, including home contests versus Minnesota and Wisconsin to end the season, they can get to 19 victories. Steal a road game, and they have a chance at a 20-win regular season.

But not so far removed from a four-game skid, which included two home losses, the Hoosiers can’t let their struggles on the road knock them off course. That second half versus Iowa — where 11 second-half turnovers brought the total to 17 — was a reminder of how quickly things can shift for this IU team.

“We also can be that team that at times lacks the carefulness of you can lose it,” Miller said. “We have to be mindful here. We have a few weeks to go here in the regular season. And, hopefully, this win can show us that if we’re right and we’re about the right things, which is each other, the good things can happen.”

For a program that has missed the NCAA tournament three years in a row, there is an urgency to play sound.

That is especially the case for a senior like Devonte Green, who took off like a rocket in his last outing. His 27-point performance, including seven 3s, was a reminder of the scoring punch the mercurial guard can provide at any moment.

He’s been mostly ineffective on the road, though. Green was 1-of-10 from the field in a road swing to Rutgers and Nebraska. He hit just 2-of-10 at Penn State before registering a more respectable 4-of-8 showing at Ohio State.

IU needs Green to be effective more often. And considering the Hoosiers’ struggles on the road — they have hit 39.5 percent from the field in six true road games, including five losses — Green’s absence has been most felt there.

“We’re at that time now, like, you can’t wait three more weeks to come back around,” Miller said. “You’ve got to come back around now. The whole key for him is just come back to work tomorrow, be focused and get ready to go.

“It’s not about how many you got tonight. It’s about can you be really good at Michigan on Sunday.”

Defensively, the Wolverines (15-9, 6-7) present a unique challenge because of their scoring balance. All five of Michigan’s starters average double figures. They also have some experience.

At the point, senior Zavier Simpson is one of the best passers in the Big Ten. Along with Jon Teske, a 7-foot-1 senior, they have seen 104 wins during their Michigan careers, which ties for a program record. They are used to winning, especially against the Hoosiers.

IU has lost six straight to Michigan, the program’s last win coming on Feb. 2, 2016, in Ann Arbor.

But the Hoosiers hope this time is different. They hope, as was the case Thursday, they are in the frame of mind to do all of the right things. And just maybe, they can come away with a big win on the road.

“When we’re mentally right and we play as a unit and we’re doing the things that we’re supposed to do, I think that we have a chance to be a good team,” Miller said. “We’ve shown that. Whether you beat Iowa or Michigan State or Florida State or Ohio State, whoever it is.”

One comment

  1. What a disaster….This team has no spine…no grit…no fire….no toughness…no heart….no gonads…no reason to play in the postseason. Adios, Archie. I’ve seen enough of you. This was a game you should have thrown a clipboard across the court and sat every starter. Play the walk-on’s…

    Jerome Hunter? Leader? Riggggggght.

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