Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa – In a game it led nearly throughout, Indiana couldn’t come up with a play when it mattered the most down the stretch on Tuesday night. As a result, the Hoosiers dropped their fifth straight game, falling 96-90 in overtime to Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to the Hawkeyes:

· Indiana has the second worst opponent free throw rate of any power five conference team: Indiana has had trouble keeping opponents off the free throw line all season, but the issue reached new heights on Tuesday night.

Iowa outscored Indiana by 23 at the line and posted a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 83.9 percent. Indiana’s opponent free throw rate in conference play is now 46.3 percent, the second highest of any power five team in league play. Only West Virginia, which plays a full court pressure defense with the objective of creating turnovers, has allowed a higher opponent free throw rate in conference play.

Postgame, Tom Crean didn’t want to discuss the officiating, but it’s clear Indiana’s inability to keep opponents off the line has played a significant factor in Indiana’s collapse. In 10 Big Ten losses, Indiana has been outscored by 76 points at the free throw line.

· The turnover problem continues: As Indiana built a 17-4 lead in Carver-Hawkeye Arena, Iowa looked like the rattled team. The Hawkeyes were turning it over and Indiana was capitalizing early on.

But as the contest moved along, a familiar script returned: Indiana couldn’t take care of the ball. The Hoosiers turned it over 22 times for a turnover percentage of 26.6. It was Indiana’s second worst turnover game from a percentage standpoint in conference play. It’s late February and Indiana’s turnover problem isn’t going away.

The 22 turnovers turned into 25 points for Iowa. In Big Ten losses, Indiana is being outscored by 94 in points off of turnovers. That’s a number too high to overcome, particularly in close games.

· No answer for Peter Jok: Iowa senior guard Peter Jok was benched, along with the rest of the Hawkeye starting lineup, just over two minutes into the game as Indiana sprinted out to a 9-0 lead.

But once Jok returned, Indiana couldn’t keep him off the foul line. Jok finished with a game-high 35 points and hit 22 of his 23 free throw attempts. The 22 made free throws broke an Iowa record set by Don Nelson against Indiana in 1962. And the 23 free throw attempts were a Carver-Hawkeye Arena record.

“He was really good, he was really strong,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “He mixed it up. He posted a little bit. He came up top. He was on the wing. He gave it up a few times. He was really, really special tonight.”

· Indiana’s slim at-large NCAA tournament hopes are now gone: Tuesday’s loss clinched Indiana’s second sub .500 record in Big Ten play in the last four seasons.

It also all but guaranteed that the Hoosiers won’t receive an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament for the second time in four seasons. Indiana’s chances to make the tournament now rest on winning the Big Ten tournament next month in Washington, D.C.

As a likely bottom four seed in the conference tournament, Indiana is likely to play on Wednesday of the event for the first time since the conference expanded to 14 teams.

· Indiana appears to be out of answers: The Hoosiers are now in a downward spiral and with seven losses in its last eight games, this season is beginning to look like Crean’s first three years in Bloomington when the team couldn’t win down the stretch.

Indiana is now 1-5 in February with two games remaining against a likely NCAA tournament team in Northwestern and a definite NCAA tournament team in Purdue. After that, the regular season wraps up in early March with a road game at Ohio State. The Hoosiers have won at Ohio State just once under Crean and that came during the 2012-2013 season.

The frustration on the face of Crean and the IU players in the postgame was evident. The same topics are coming after each game – turnovers, defense and free throws attempts by the opponent. Right now, Indiana has no answer for any of its issues.

(Photo credit: Iowa Hawkeyes)

Notebook: IU’s losing streak grows to five with loss at Iowa

Indiana led Iowa for nearly 38 minutes in regulation on Tuesday night.

All the Hoosiers had to do was hang on for the final two minutes to end a four-game losing streak and win just their second game on the road this season.

But after leading by eight with under five minutes to play, Indiana surrendered its lead for the first time with 2:13 remaining. It was the same story in a close game for IU as things fell apart down the stretch giving Indiana a 96-90 loss in overtime.

“It’s disheartening as hard as we play, we make our mistakes as do the other teams, to not have it go our way,” Tom Crean said postgame. “They’re working their tail off preparation-wise, practice-wise, we were fresh, and we were energetic.”

In the game’s final 20 seconds, it looked like the Hoosiers might not even force overtime. Iowa freshman Tyler Cook missed a point blank look at the end of regulation that would have given the Hawkeyes a win at the buzzer.

But Thomas Bryant wasn’t called for a foul on the play, giving IU another breath of life heading into overtime. But the Hoosiers couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity.

Indiana fell victim yet again to turnovers, foul trouble and poor defense in its fifth straight loss. The Hoosiers committed 22 turnovers, a Big Ten conference season-high.

The lack of awareness and poor decision-making from IU turned into 25 points off of turnovers for Iowa. Up until the overtime period, whenever Iowa scored, IU found a way to match it. But when things got down to the wire, the Hoosiers couldn’t overcome their own mistakes.

“Basketball is a game of runs and we made them run early,” Robert Johnson said. “Any good team is going to respond and that’s what they did. We tried to weather the storm and I think at the end of the game we did a good job doing that, we just fell a little short.”

Lack of discipline proves costly for Hoosiers in OT

IU went more than 11 minutes before it committed its first foul. By the final buzzer, the Hoosiers had collected 35 fouls. Iowa finished 39-of-47 from the free throw line.

Senior Peter Jok took control for the Hawkeyes in overtime, scoring 15 of his game-high 35 points in the final five minutes. Eleven of those points came from the free throw line.

Multiple Hoosiers were called for touch or reaching fouls and were caught out of place on defense.

In overtime, three of IU’s starters, Josh Newkirk, Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. fouled out, along with Juwan Morgan. It seemed as though no one from IU’s starting lineup could defend without fouling in the tight situation.

“You think the rule is one way but you know different referees call it different,” Johnson said. “You just have to read the game and just adjust to how they’re calling it.”

Johnson breaks out of slump

After a scoreless night against Minnesota, Johnson scored in double-digits for the first time since February 5. He finished with 19 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

Johnson, with the help of Newkirk and Blackmon, carried much of the weight early by accounting for 24 of IU’s 33 first half points.

On Johnson’s game-high fifth steal, he found Newkirk on a breakaway that led to a pair of free throws to tie the game at 75.

Tuesday night’s loss guarantees that IU will finish below .500 in conference play for the first time since the 2013-14 season, when it finished 7-11 in Big Ten competition.

With just three games left before the conference tournament, IU returns home to face Northwestern for senior night on Saturday.

(Photo credit: Iowa Athletics)

Video: Tom Crean reacts to loss at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 96-90 overtime loss to Iowa on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Watch his postgame comments below:

Video: IU players react to loss at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr. met with the media following Indiana’s 96-90 overtime loss to Iowa on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Watch their postgame comments below:

Video: Fran McCaffery reacts to win over Indiana

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Fran McCaffery met with the media following Iowa’s 96-90 overtime win over Indiana on Tuesday night at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Watch his postgame comments below:

The Minute After: Iowa

Thoughts on a 96-90 loss to the Hawkeyes:

Another game the Hoosiers seemingly had in control down the stretch on the road, and yet another one they threw away.

Against Minnesota, some failed box outs from the Hoosiers — and some fortuitous movement from the Golden Gophers on their final possession — sunk Indiana in a game they led for nine of the final 10 minutes of the contest. Tonight, the Hoosiers sprinted out to a 17-4 lead as Josh Newkirk and James Blackmon Jr. banged home 3-pointers. Fran McCaffery was so angry with how his team started the contest that he pulled his five starters for five fresh Iowa bench players. The Hawkeyes were able to battle back and make a game of it, but Indiana continued to lead the entire way — and even had an eight-point lead with just under five minutes to go in the contest — until a Tyler Cook dunk and and-1 with 2:10 to go put the Hawkeyes up two at 73-71.

The Hoosiers were able to stick in there and get the game to overtime, as Josh Newkirk sunk two big free throws with 25 seconds to go to tie the game at 75. Thomas Bryant got away with a foul at the buzzer on Cook’s attempt and we went onwards to overtime.

But the final five minutes were a microcosm of all the plagued the Hoosiers in this one. Indiana simply had no answer for Peter Jok all game long. It was a masterful performance from the Iowa senior. When Jok wasn’t hitting shots when he was freed off the baseline to the perimeter (6-of-12), he was living at the line drawing fouls against the Hoosiers. Jok capped off his evening by scoring a ridiculous 15 points in the overtime frame — with 11 of those coming from the line. The senior ended the night 22-of-23 from the charity stripe, setting an Iowa record in the process. He finished with a game-high 35 points.

Late turnovers in the second half helped Iowa get it to overtime and Indiana continued with its carelessness in the overtime period, as it turned the ball over three times. McCaffery had his Hawkeyes pick up the Hoosiers in the backcourt and employ a trap at halfcourt for long stretches of the contest. The Hoosiers are already turnover prone and this defense made them even more so, as their turnover percentage of 25.9 was above their season average. And even when Indiana broke the trap line of the defense and got the ball deep into the frontcourt, the Hoosiers sometimes made bad decisions on the baseline for turnovers. And as Zach Osterman noted on Twitter, this defense also just completely wore down the Hoosiers by the extra frame as they limped to their fifth straight loss.

The numbers are now starting to look pretty ugly. Indiana is tied for 12th in conference with Ohio State, just one spot ahead of Rutgers in the Big Ten cellar. It’s now impossible to finish conference play with a winning record. And at just two games above .500 overall, there’s evidence to support the fact that an invite to the NIT is far from a guarantee.

Northwestern has struggled of late and the Hoosiers get the Wildcats at home on Saturday night. Can they stop the bleeding or is a sixth straight loss on the way?

(Photo credit: Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports)

At the Buzzer: Iowa 96, Indiana 90

IOWA CITY, Iowa – Quick thoughts on a 96-90 overtime loss to Iowa:

How it happened: Another close game, another opportunity missed for Indiana. The Hoosiers led this game by as many as 13 in the first half and the Hawkeyes didn’t lead until the 2:13 mark of the second half. But as has been the case several times this season, Indiana couldn’t get over the hump when it mattered most. After the Hoosiers got a key defensive stop in the final 20 seconds to force overtime, it was all Iowa in the extra five minutes. So what was the difference in this one? Another poor defensive effort as the Hoosiers allowed the Hawkeyes to score 1.16 points per possession. Turnovers. Indiana had 22 for a turnover percentage of 26.6. And a huge differential at the free throw line. It was Indiana’s fifth straight loss and eighth in its last nine games. The Hoosiers, now 5-10 in the Big Ten, are tied with Ohio State at 12th in the conference standings heading into the home finale on Saturday against Northwestern.

Standout performer: Robert Johnson, mired in a slump coming into Tuesday, had a bounce back effort. The junior guard finished with a team-high 19 points and also had seven assists and six rebounds before fouling out.

Statistic that stands out: Indiana was once again outscored from the foul line and on points off of turnovers. Iowa outscored Indiana by 23 at the free throw line and by seven on points off of turnovers. In 10 Big Ten losses, the Hoosiers have now been outscored by 94 on points off of turnovers and by 76 at the free throw line.

Final IU individual stats:

Final tempo-free stats:

Video: IU players, Rob Judson preview Iowa

Josh Newkirk, De’Ron Davis and assistant coach Rob Judson met with the media on Monday afternoon to preview Indiana’s matchup on Tuesday against Iowa at Carver Hawkeye Arena.

Watch their comments below: (Video courtesy of IU athletics)

What to Expect: Iowa

With just four games to play, we’re in the home stretch of the Big Ten regular season. Indiana continues a two-game roadtrip on Tuesday night in Iowa City as the Hoosiers take on Iowa. 

The game will be broadcast at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN with Jason Benetti, Dan Dakich and Molly McGrath on the call:

Indiana is running out of chances to salvage the 2016-17 season. The Hoosiers have dropped four straight games and are no longer considered a bubble team for the NCAA tournament.

After starting the season 10-2, Indiana is 5-10 since Dec. 28. Nearly everything that could go wrong has gone wrong: Injuries, turnovers, defense and most recently, inconsistent perimeter shooting.

The recent tailspin has just about guaranteed a sub. 500 record in Big Ten play for the second time in four seasons.

But as daunting as the close of the schedule looked at one point, three of the four remaining games are very winnable. Tuesday’s opponent, Iowa, is coming off a home loss to Illinois. Saturday’s opponent, Northwestern, lost at home last week to Maryland and needed late heroics from Bryant McIntosh to hold off Rutgers at home. And the final regular season opponent, Ohio State, is the second worst team in the league at this point. The Buckeyes have dropped three straight.

If Indiana can’t figure out a way to stack up some wins, the season may end with not only an NCAA tournament miss, but a NIT miss as well.

MEET THE HAWKEYES

It’s been a season of transition for Iowa. The Hawkeyes lost Mike Gesell, Anthony Clemmons, Jarrod Uthoff and Adam Woodbury to graduation and have one of the least experienced teams in Division I.

The significant holdover from last season’s NCAA tournament team is senior guard Peter Jok, who averages a team-high 20.4 points. Jok is using 29.5 percent of Iowa’s possessions in Big Ten play and is shooting 48.4 percent on 2s and 30.4 percent on 3s.

Since returning from a back injury on Feb. 5, Jok is just 5-of-20 on 3-pointers.

Freshman point guard Jordan Bohannon is an Iowa native and took over the reigns on day one from Gesell, who started for four years. Bohannon has the ninth best assist rate in the Big Ten and is the team’s third leading scorer at 9.2 points per game. He’s hitting close to 37 percent of his 3s in conference play.

Redshirt sophomore guard Brady Ellingson is a 3-point specialist that can fill it up. The 6-foot-4 sharpshooter is hitting 52.8 percent of his 3s on the season and 48.4 percent in league play.

Freshman guard Isaiah Moss, a Chicago native, has been turnover prone and inefficient in league play. Moss is turning it over on close to 22 percent of his possessions in Big Ten games and has an effective field goal percentage of 43.6. He’s fifth on the team in scoring at 6.8 points per game.

Sophomore Christian Williams is logging the majority of his minutes as the backup point guard. Williams is making just 32.4 percent of his 2s and hasn’t made a 3-pointer in conference play. He also has a turnover rate of 26.3 percent.

Freshman forward Tyler Cook is the anchor up front and one of the league’s best newcomers. Cook’s 11.7 points per game are second on the team. The 6-foot-9 St. Louis native is excellent at drawing fouls and has a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 50 percent in league games.

Another freshman, Cordell Pemsl, is 6-foot-8 and 250 pounds and has been productive off the bench. He’s the Big Ten’s 14th best offensive rebounder. Sophomore Ahmad Wagner starts at the four and is making close to 52 percent of his 2s in Big Ten play. He’s been dreadful from the free throw line (43.3 percent).

Sophomore Nicolas Baer, a former walk-on, is a solid defensive player who has struggled offensively this season. The 6-foot-7 Baer is ninth in the league in block percentage and sixth in steal percentage but is hitting just 33.3 percent of his 3s in Big Ten games.

Junior Dom Uhl was expected to take on a much larger role this season, but that never materialized. Fran McCaffery has opted to go young in the frontcourt and Uhl has been one of the odd men out. He’s averaging just 4.4 points and 3.8 rebounds per game.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

Iowa ranks in the bottom five of the Big Ten in both offensive and defensive efficiency, but has some nice wins this season, particularly at home. The Hawkeyes beat Iowa State at Carver Hawkeye in early December and also own Big Ten home wins over Michigan and Purdue.

The Hawkeyes do a solid job of forcing turnovers (19.7 defensive turnover rate), but don’t defend 2s well or block many shots. Settling for 3s in this game, especially with the recent shooting woes, would be a bad strategy for the Hoosiers. Iowa also has a lot of problems keeping teams off of the offensive glass as Big Ten opponents are grabbing 34 percent of their misses against the Hawkeyes.

Free throws are also likely to be a major factor as Iowa has the lowest opponent free throw rate in the league and Indiana has the highest.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The KenPom projection is Indiana by one and Sagarin likes the Hoosiers by 2.5. Both teams come in struggling as the Hawkeyes have dropped three straight and Indiana has lost six of seven.

This game has a much different feel than last year’s meeting late in the regular season in Iowa City. At that point, Iowa was fighting to hold on for a chance at a share of the Big Ten regular season and Indiana went into Carver Hawkeye Arena and won a drama filled battle to claim its second outright league crown in four seasons.

This year, both teams are fighting to avoid playing on the opening day of the Big Ten tournament.

Indiana is coming off a hard fought, heartbreaking loss on Wednesday at Minnesota, but has had some time off to try and regroup. With Northwestern looming at home this weekend and then a trip to Purdue, this is a game the Hoosiers desperately need to have.

(Photo credit: Matthew Holst/Getty Images North America)

Big Ten Power Rankings: February 20

Two weeks of regular season play remain, and there is still plenty at stake in the Big Ten.

The race for the regular season crown is likely down to just Wisconsin and Purdue, while the middle of the conference remains a mess. Just 3.5 games separate fifth place (Minnesota, 8-6) from thirteenth (Ohio State, 5-10).

Here’s a look at where each team stands after eight weeks of conference play:

14. Rutgers (13-15, 2-13; 0.87 points per possession, 1.04 points per possession allowed; KenPom – 126, Sagarin – 124, RPI – 153) (Last Week: 14)

Once again, the Scarlet Knights came close to an upset win. On Saturday, Rutgers led Northwestern in Evanston for most of the second half. But a Bryant McIntosh three with one minute remaining gave the Wildcats the lead for good. Rutgers is now a lock to finish last in the conference, but the foundation is being built for future success.

13. Ohio State (15-13, 5-10; 1.03 PPP, 1.08 PPP allowed; KenPom – 65, Sagarin – 59, RPI – 81) (Last Week: 11)

The Buckeyes tumultuous campaign has sunk to a new low. After falling at home to Nebraska, the Buckeyes will finish the conference schedule below .500 for the first time in 13 seasons under Thad Matta.

12. Illinois (15-12, 5-9; 1.00 PPP, 1.08 PPP allowed; KenPom – 72, Sagarin – 70, RPI – 67) (Last Week: 13)

Behind a monster effort from senior Malcolm Hill (21 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists and 2 steals) the Fighting Illini picked up their second consecutive road win with a victory at Iowa. On Tuesday, Illinois will host Northwestern, where a win would give them the season sweep over the Wildcats.

11. Indiana (15-12, 5-9; 1.07 PPP, 1.10 PPP allowed; KenPom – 45, Sagarin – 31, RPI – 90) (Last Week: 10)

Indiana nearly ended their losing streak last Wednesday, but an inability to grab a loose ball in the waning seconds in Minneapolis doomed the Hoosiers. The Hoosiers now are not only on the outside of the NCAA Tournament picture, but find themselves needing wins just to avoid playing in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.

10. Iowa (14-13, 6-8; 1.02 PPP, 1.07 PPP allowed; KenPom – 78, Sagarin – 71, RPI – 119) (Last Week: 9)

The Hawkeyes again lost to Illinois, giving the Illini their first sweep of the series since 2011. Iowa has now lost three straight and six of their last nine. Desperation will be in the air when the Hawkeyes host Indiana on Tuesday, with each needing a win to stop the bleeding.

9. Penn State (14-13, 6-8; 0.97 PPP, 1.02 PPP allowed; KenPom – 80, Sagarin – 77, RPI – 74) (Last Week: 8)

The Nittany Lions’ two-game winning streak came to an abrupt end in Lincoln on Tuesday. Penn State allowed Nebraska to score at a rate of 1.15 PPP and never led in the contest. Penn State will be the underdog in three of their final four. That includes their upcoming contest in State College Tuesday, where KenPom gives them just a 22 percent chance at pulling off an upset over Purdue.

8. Nebraska (12-14, 6-8; 1.03 PPP, 1.06 PPP allowed; KenPom – 79, Sagarin – 80, RPI – 75) (Last Week: 12)

Ever since the return of big man Ed Morrow on Feb. 9, the Cornhuskers have been playing with a renewed spirit. Nebraska had a 2-0 week for the first time since the beginning of the conference season. On Saturday the Cornhuskers downed Ohio State in Columbus for the first time in program history.

7. Michigan State (16-11, 8-6; 1.03 PPP, 1.02 PPP allowed; KenPom – 53, Sagarin – 44, RPI – 43) (Last Week: 6)

It was a rough week for the Spartans. After a home win over Ohio State on Tuesday, MSU was crushed by Purdue in West Lafayette. The Spartans were dealt a huge blow in the loss when senior Eron Harris was carted off the floor after going down with a knee injury. Harris, the most consistent contributor of the three seniors in MSU’s rotation, will miss the remainder of the season.

6. Michigan (17-10, 7-7; 1.14 PPP, 1.09 PPP allowed; KenPom – 27, Sagarin – 27, RPI – 55) (Last Week: 5)

Michigan had a rollercoaster week on the bubble. It started on Thursday with a resume-building home win over Wisconsin and ended Sunday in Minneapolis, where the Wolverines fell in overtime. One of the best teams in the country at avoiding foul trouble, the Wolverines were called for 28 fouls in the loss (27 personals, one technical), the most in the John Beilein era. Of legitimate cause for concern, though, is that Michigan was manhandled inside. The Wolverines allowed Minnesota to grab 10 more offensive rebounds and score 19 more second chance points.

5. Minnesota (20-7, 8-6; 1.02 PPP, 1.00 PPP allowed; KenPom – 39, Sagarin – 38, RPI – 23) (Last Week: 7)

For the first time in Richard Pitino’s four seasons in Minnesota, the Gophers will finish the regular season with at least 20 wins. The suddenly red-hot Gophers have won five straight and are undefeated in February. Next up, Minnesota heads to College Park, where they’ll have a chance to down the last team to beat them.

4. Northwestern (20-7, 9-5; 1.05 PPP, 1.00 PPP allowed) (KenPom – 33, Sagarin – 34, RPI – 37) (Last Week: 4)

The Wildcats were grateful to see the return of Scottie Lindsey (mononucleosis) over the weekend, as they posted a dreadful 1-3 record in his absence. The junior didn’t do anything special in his first game back (6 points and 4 assists in 24 minutes), but he’ll be crucial for Northwestern as they begin a two-game road trip needing victories to solidify a double-bye in the Big Ten Tournament.

3. Maryland (22-5, 10-4; 1.08 PPP, 1.01 PPP allowed; KenPom – 31, Sagarin – 33, RPI – 19) (Last Week: 3)

Melo Trimble played his part on Sunday, scoring 27 points and adding five rebounds, but the Terrapins were unable to hang with the Badgers in Wisconsin. Besides Trimble, not a single Terrapin scored more than ten points, and only two made at least two field goals (Kevin Huerter and Michal Cekovsky). Maryland is now on the outside of the title hunt, but a favorable schedule for the final stretch should give them momentum going into the postseason.

2. Wisconsin (22-5, 11-3; 1.06 PPP, 0.95 PPP allowed; KenPom – 15, Sagarin – 13, RPI– 24) (Last Week: 2)

After enduring their first losing streak in over a calendar year, the Badgers managed to keep pace in the race for the Big Ten title by holding off the Terrapins on Sunday. Bronson Koenig, who missed the Michigan loss with a strained calf, scored nine points in 31 minutes in the win. But the catalyst, as always, was Ethan Happ. The sophomore leads the Badgers in all five major statistical categories, and on Sunday, posted a ludicrous line of 20 points, seven rebounds, five steals, three assists and two blocks.

1. Purdue (22-5, 11-3; 1.11 PPP, 0.97 PPP allowed; KenPom – 11, Sagarin – 11, RPI – 21) (Last Week: 1)

The Boilermakers took care of business this past week, dispatching Rutgers and Michigan State by a combined 36 points. Purdue will go into each of their final four contests as the favorite, with their toughest test likely coming in Ann Arbor next Saturday. Make it through that game unscathed, and a share of the Big Ten crown is one step closer to becoming reality.