IU take-aways: Ohio State 68, Indiana 59

IU has to rediscover its identity.

Through most of this season, the Hoosiers have done two things really well.

They rebound, and they get to the free throw line.

As far as the glass is concerned, Indiana hit a new low in Saturday’s loss at Ohio State. The Hoosiers collected 24 rebounds, four below their previous season-worst versus Wisconsin and North Alabama.

Just on the offensive end, the Hoosiers’ season-low on the boards was seven apiece versus Princeton and North Alabama. They had just four offensive rebounds versus the Buckeyes. This was just the sixth game where IU failed to reach double figures in offensive boards.

“I’m sure they were blocking out, but they’ve tried to block us out before, every other game we’ve played, too. We’ve found a way to get on the boards,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “A definite problem.”

At the free throw line, IU was able to log 18 attempts, better than consecutive games of 10 versus Maryland and Penn State. But it’s still well below the average of nearly 26 free throws per game the Hoosiers were getting before this recent three-game stretch.

If the Hoosiers are going to find their best form, they have to get back on track in those two phases.

Even with this dip in production, IU still ranks 15th in the country in rebounding margin (plus-7.7 per game), 16th in free throw attempts (527), and 26th in free throws makes (361). Those are the only categories where the Hoosiers rank in the country’s top 50.

“Rebounding has been a staple for this team,” Miller said. “We are one of the better rebounding teams in the country and we are one of the better rebounding teams in the league. Our physicality and just the energy level, getting after balls, just isn’t there right now.”

The frontcourt struggled to score, too. 

Along with a lack of rebounding, the Hoosier frontcourt had its struggles finding baskets, as well.

Trayce Jackson-Davis was 2-of-6 from the floor. Justin Smith was 1-of-4. Joey Brunk hit 1-of-3.

That led to a 26-20 disadvantage as far as points in the paint. It’s a stat that has been something of a bellwether for the Hoosiers’ success, because they outproduced Nebraska, Maryland, and Michigan State by an average of 10.7 paint points per contest in a three-game stretch.

At Penn State, IU was in the red again, 36-28.

Another solid performance from forward Jerome Hunter, notching a 2-of-4 effort from 3 on his way to nine points, was an encouraging sign. This team could use outside shooting wherever it can find it. But the Hoosiers have to reestablish themselves, inside-out, to have success.

This is why it’s important to win at home.

Immediately after a one-point loss to Maryland, Miller talked about the “sick” feeling it gave him.

It was, undoubtedly, a missed opportunity.

And the reason why it was such a missed opportunity just transpired. A close loss at home preceded two subpar performances on the road, which have become all too common for the Hoosiers and their Big Ten counterparts.

IU is now 1-5 in its road games. On the other hand, the Hoosiers are 12-2 at home, and both of those losses came in gut-wrenching fashion.

If the road is going to be this difficult of a place to win, this places even more emphasis on cleaning up at home. Two opportunities are coming up, starting with Purdue this Saturday and No. 18 Iowa the following Thursday.

What’s next?

Purdue, 2 p.m. Saturday, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall

First, the Hoosiers get a much-needed break.

IU hasn’t had more than five days between games since a Sunday contest versus Arkansas led to a Saturday road contest at Maryland. That’s eight games in a row where a midweek outing rolled into a weekend contest.

Purdue, on the other hand, will match up with Iowa midweek at Mackey Arena before heading south to face the in-state rival Hoosiers. After a big home win over Michigan State, the Boilermakers dropped three out of their next four. They rebounded slightly with a three-point win over Northwestern.

It’s been a struggling season overall for Purdue (12-10, 5-6 Big Ten). The Boilermakers rank 11th in the country in scoring defense (60.4 ppg), but they sit at just 286th in scoring offense (67.2).

18 comments

  1. Purdue meets Iowa in midweek….Iowa will likely do us no favors by going into Mackey and winning. Purdue will have more fire in the belly after just getting knocked off at home…

    I don’t see anything happening “easy” with our bunch. Purdue games always seem to be dogfights.

    I’m also a bit superstitious and the fact we have very flat performances every time Rock predicts victories and our Hoosiers manhandling a “moronic” coach or taking advantage of an opposition’s flat crowd, etc. makes me concerned. I would have been less superstitious if Rock would have predicted a barnburner against Purdue.
    At least he’s cooled on frisée.

    1. I don’t know H4H,
      We do know that PU is not without some fight at home and we certainly saw that in their game with MSU. Wondering if Iowa will still be hung over from beating IL and maybe ripe for the taking by PU. No way to know until the game has been played. With a few exceptions, the road on the B1G has been brutal this year. Neb & NW seem to be about the most vulnerable road locations for the home team.

      1. You are probably right…Just seems like Iowa is always a gritty bunch. I have no statistical research to back it up. Everyone is fighting to stay in that top 2/3 tier in hopes for NCAA bids. All games going forward will be wars. Mentally tough from “mental midgets” will begin to separate out those who finish in 5th, 6th, or 7th place …from those who will put their fate in Joe Lunardi’s bubble.

        Our last two-three games have proven our bubble worthiness….I don’t expect Saturday to be much different. Would love to be more optimistic. Not to mention, my high hopes invested Brunk are making me look foolish. It appears he is in a bad condition/funk (confidence has dropped off)…since the MSU game.

  2. I always read his “optimism” as a little bit tongue-in-cheek….

    We’re gonna be up 20 before halftime!
    Green will become the leader we all know he wants to be!
    Justin Smith will hit six three-pointers.
    Joey Brunk will be hit with a foul while on the bench!….for shoving Archie inappropriately with two hands to the back. It’s the right thing to do.
    Our Assembly Hall smorgasbord of home cooking from the refs will get us this highly needed win for our rabid fan base….They love smorgasbords.
    I really like Matt Haarms…Unlike our Hoosiers, he plays the game with class and style. But that hair…

  3. It is a truism that I’ve been wrong with predictive efforts this season; but I truly believe that our crowd is going to be loud and righteously angry about how our team has been treated by the referees these past 2 games. And our team IS ascending and defining victories like a Win against Purdue is on the horizon. Oh, it will be a barnburner, but in the end it will be remembered as a turning point as our team and fans celebrate.

  4. Oh, it will be a barnburner, but in the end it will be remembered as a turning point as our team and fans celebrate.

    Wait…In approx. 12 hours you’ve gone from beating Purdue “easily” to “barnburner?”

    Do I convince you so easily? Stand immovable like a rock, Rock. Nothing wrong with being optimistic with your easy win version.

  5. I love the optimism, but it reminds me of the old story with the punch line, “and the boy responded, ‘with all this manure, there must be a pony in there somewhere!’ “

  6. I U Basketball has 9 games remaining, 5 home, 4 on the road this season is growing too short for any miracle adjustments to be accomplished by our players to transform this team for this season, personally I have hit the reset button for next season and hope there’s better results in year four of AM’s leadership. Next season’s roster still needs a huge impact recruit.

  7. IU #55 now in the NET, definitely becoming bubble worthy.

    Purdue is #37

    IU’s worst loss vs. #34, Arkansas.

  8. I’m steady as a ROCK in my support for I.U. But honest along the way.

    Your “list” of my (erroneous) predictions contained some fiction, H4h, but one of your fictive additions rings very, very true indeed:

    Green will become the Leader he wants to be. Look, this season is going nowhere, fast, and our biggest wins came when Devonte was given free rein to play his game without having to double-think.

    I believe it’s long past time to hand the team over to Devonte and the free-flowing style that will ENERGIZE our talented group and have them play with ENTHUSIASM.

    Against Purdue is EXACTLY the game to do it, our crowd (by FAR the BEST in College Basketball) will go absolutely nuts if our team plays with enthusiasm, and it just might, Harv, carry us to a Final 4 in the Big Ten Tournament!!!!!!

    We’ll see on Saturday (and, by the way, I think Purdue will win at home against Iowa).

  9. Yes, they were exaggerations…but really not that far off.

    Giving Green “free rein”….? Yup, we are definitely on opposite sides of the fence concerning what will fix this downward spiral. I’ll leave it at that…

    I see the basic problem being many on this team not respecting their coach…and maybe not respecting themselves to a degree. Not an easy problem to fix. Ups and downs hinge more on individual performances (Green is plenty capable to have a couple during his ICY HOT behaviors). I want camaraderie and guys behaving as if they actually enjoy being around each other. I want discipline on defense…and closing out on shooters. I want to see some basic signs of a team …rather than five individual parts always playing like individual parts.
    I simply don’t think Green is capable of bringing the parts into a collective…It’s not a sole criticism of Green. I don’t see much in the way of leadership traits in any of our Hoosiers (brief glimpses from Smith and Brunk…and Durham).
    And I’m not convinced this problem goes away after we’re through with the “holdovers.”

    Hope all your dreams come true for plenty of Devonte ‘Big D’ Green….

  10. H4h, I am in complete agreement with your statement:

    I want camaraderie and guys behaving as if they actually enjoy being around each other. I want discipline on defense…and closing out on shooters. I want to see some basic signs of a team …rather than five individual parts always playing like individual parts.

  11. Cool…

    Seems so long ago that our banners got off the beaten highway….And where in the hell are we hiding Bobby?

  12. H4h, I could care less if Bobby Knight made an appearance, but think that there is the Possibility (mark my words) that he shows up in Simon-Skojdt on Saturday. Again, “mark my words”.

    Tickets are going for $100 MINIMUM (so far) on one.iu.edu, and that’s a good harbinger that “something is up”.

    Having stated that, let me REVISE my post about “agreeing” with you “completely”. I copied and pasted too much.

    Here is the snipped, H4h, that I think you expressed with eloquence. Thank you for putting it so succinctly regarding what I believe that we ALL hope to see out of IU Men’s Basketball (and have NOT seen for far, far, far, too long):

    I want camaraderie and guys behaving as if they actually enjoy being around each other

  13. I don’t care either…Just had fun making a doctored photo.

    In case you need explanation:

    Archie = Norman Bates. Now like a caged bird; a victim of circumstance.
    Knight = Mrs. Bates (a.k.a. “Mother Hoosier).
    Beaten Highway = Frequent deep trips in March Madness.
    Broken down Bates Motel = Our lost heyday. Now you only stumble upon us if you get off the main Final Four lane thoroughfare.
    Bates home perched high above motel = A symbolic Knight forever staring down in domineering judgment.
    Tom Crean = Mrs. Bates lover.
    Shower scene = Hoosier Football. Swamp …swamp…and more swamp.

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