The Minute After: Northwestern

  • 01/14/2018 7:06 pm in

Thoughts on a 66-46 win against the Wildcats:

What a difference Juwan Morgan makes.

Saddled on the bench for the final 17:46 of the first half due to two quick fouls, Morgan was no factor in the first half as Indiana plodded along on offense. Without Morgan to work the middle of Northwestern’s zone, Indiana settled for too many 3-pointers over the top of the defense and too much freelancing instead of ball movement. Devonte Green was launching up air balls. So despite the fact that the Hoosiers held the Wildcats to a paltry .56 points per possession in the first half — some due to solid defense, some due to Northwestern’s woeful shooting — Indiana only carried a five-point lead into the break (25-19). The Hoosiers scored just .72 points per possession over the first 20 minutes in a half with some seriously ugly offense.

But with Morgan back on the court to start the second half, the game changed in a big way. Morgan set up in the middle of Northwestern’s zone and dished two assists to a cutting Justin Smith along the baseline. He scored eight points of his own in the first 8:29 of the half. With the Hoosiers still shutting down the likes of Scottie Lindsey (1-of-15) and Northwestern not getting much else from the rest of the team, Indiana threw down a serious hammer, using an 18-0 run to push the lead out to 27 at the 10:07 mark on a Josh Newkirk 3-pointer.

By game’s end, the Hoosiers jumped up to 1.02 points per possession after their strong second half. They held Northwestern to just .72 PPP, a season-low for the Wildcats.

We’ve talked about if the Hoosiers could just shoot a little better from 3-point range — say, in the mid-30s percentage wise — it could really help their cause. It wasn’t the deciding factor in this contest by any means, but they were able to do just that against the Wildcats. Indiana made 8-of-23 (34.8 percent) from distance, aided by Newkirk’s 2-of-3 performance and 5-of-11 from Robert Johnson. Johnson ripped through a couple during Indiana’s scoring barrage to start the second half. It helped him lead all scorers with 17 points.

While Indiana shot respectable from distance, this should have been even bigger than a 20-point win as it shot just 12-of-22 (54.5 percent) from the line. In a tighter game, this could have come back to bite the Hoosiers hard.

We saw the likes of Clifton Moore for the first time in Big Ten play in the first half, something Archie Miller said was coming. Moore’s presence was felt most on the defensive end thanks to two blocks. He missed his only shot attempt of the contest.

The Hoosiers have now busted out for three straight Big Ten wins, including one on the road, after the Wisconsin debacle. They sit in a tie for third with Michigan and Michigan State at 4-2 after today’s win. Friday’s trip to East Lansing will be a tough one, especially against a Michigan State team, one of the best on the country, looking to rebound after recent losses against Ohio State and Michigan — the latter of which was at home.

But regardless, Indiana is sitting well so far in conference play, today another encouraging sign of growth.

Filed to:

  • NC Hoosier

    After losing to Indiana State and Fort Wayne, I never thought they’d roll off three consecutive B1G wins. Best I’ve felt about the team all year. Now on to the tough portion of the conference schedule.

  • inLinE6

    After a silly turnover, Green was immediately pulled out, and Archie had some word with him. I liked the way Archie is building. If you can’t play under control, you won’t see the floor.

  • KingofKentucky

    I’m really excited to see the team and players responding to difficult situations. Since the Wisconsin game the team and players have responded positively to foul trouble, shots not going in and injuries. There appears to have been a mental shift that problems presented during the game can be overcome with defense, continued implementation of the game plan and trusting the coaching staffs decisions.

  • Colt

    This team is progessing. I like how you are not seeing anyone hanging their heads. The effort on D was impressive.

  • iubase

    Last yr we were in a free fall, 1-3 to start big ten and not much improvement over the rest of the season . Conversely Archie’s team is clearly ascending. The defense is working well and the players are in sync JM is playing at a high level. More shots will fall as the players continue to acclimate to Archie’s system – which works

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    Total team effort tonight. Great guard play. Good hustle. 8 threes! (Felt like 15). Totally different team when the three ball is falling.

    Archie must have the best half time speeches. Multiple times this year the team has come out the second half a totally different team always for the better. He knows what to emphasize on and I think he really connects with his guys and they respect him.

    Proud of these guys. Keep getting better!

  • inCMitrust

    I have moved my completely non scientific chance of Romeo going to IU up a couple of percentage points. He was at the game today and anybody can see any SG guard will have a ton of shots next year. Lots of shots equal good opportunity for Romeo.

  • myrddin

    This stretch since New Year’s has really been against the bottom of the conference (and, yes, feels good to be 4-2). Let’s see how we feel after the next 6 tho.

  • myrddin

    Need to go at least 2-4 over next 6, most likely wins being Maryland at home and Ill on the road. Anything more would be gravy, like catching Purdue or MSU at our house like OSU put it to MSU. Even so, I think we’d have to be satisfied with 2-4, 6-6 overall in conference, heading into the stretch.

  • kurk81

    Let’s just follow Archie’s lead and focus on our next opportunity in East Lansing Friday. Any talk of hopefully winning a couple of our next half dozen games sounds like acceptance of the mediocrity that’s poisoned our program for the last decade +. How ’bout beating MSU, then moving on from there?

  • MrNobody

    Thought heard crowd chanting his name. So for people saying he is just getting thru season to not have IU fans heckling him at games… seems if there is no shot he wouldn’t have wasted time at game today. Now only if Arch held him on campus until he got a commit from him 😉

  • yaman22

    At the press conference after the Wisconsin game you could tell Coach Miller was not happy. The energy and effort the last 3 games is encouraging. Well done guys, keep it going. Go Hoosiers !

  • bleeding crimson

    I have to agree. He has to know he will see more playing time at IU right now than any other school. With our returning group and what we have coming in could be a really special year. Being close to home should be a factor as well.
    I think he is ours to lose at this point. Seal the deal Archie.

  • bleeding crimson

    Great win, a little ugly, glad I missed the first half but it sounds like our D was still pretty good. I really like Justin Smith in the game and starting to see more minutes. It he could just contain himself he will be a special player. Reminds me of how Victor was before his transformation. He is so athletic. Go Hoosiers.

  • Lance76

    My first thought that if there was no shot then why would he be there. Perhaps just thinking and that is great. It would be hard to turn your back on that atmosphere and people chanting your name. We will see what plays out.

  • dennis powell

    First half was ugly but second half was pretty good. The energy of late has been encouraging. Go Hoosiers!!

  • iubase

    Agree. It feels good to be where we are. Last yr the schedule was about the same. This team HOWEVER is trending up. This is the best defense I’ve seen since RMK