Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Northwestern

  • 01/15/2018 9:34 am in

Indiana won its third straight game on Sunday afternoon as the Hoosiers crushed Northwestern, 66-46, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The victory moved Indiana into a three-way tie for third place in the Big Ten.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Wildcats:

· Defense carries the load: It’s been a while since Indiana basketball has been able to cite defense as its reason for winning games, but that’s exactly how the Hoosiers are earning Big Ten victories this season.

With Juwan Morgan on the bench with two fouls for most of the first half, Indiana was offensively challenged. But the Hoosiers played strong defensively as Northwestern managed just 19 first half points and scored just .57 points per possession.

Through six Big Ten games, Indiana is allowing just .97 points per possession, which is the third best mark in the league behind Purdue and Ohio State. For the game, Indiana limited Northwestern to just .71 points per possession, its worst output of the season.

“We were stagnant against the zone and not having Juwan for a good part of that first half obviously impacted our offense not being able to play through him a little bit,” Archie Miller said postgame. “But the defensive intensity in the first half was excellent.”

· Johnson, Newkirk get hot from perimeter: Indiana still hasn’t had a lights out shooting performance from the perimeter – and it may not happen – but the Hoosiers got strong performances from Robert Johnson and Josh Newkirk on Sunday.

Miller has been looking for more consistency from his senior guards and on Sunday they both delivered.

Johnson scored a team-high 17 points and was 5-of-11 from distance while Newkirk was 2-of-3 from deep and finished with 12 points.

“The better and more consistent we are with our guards — high assists, low turnovers and shooting percentages, especially from behind the line — if we can get those guys to be a little bit more consistent our team is going to be better,” Miller explained. “And I think in this game in particular when your guards were able to make the plays that they made tonight you have an easier time.”

· Turnovers continue to trend downward: Six games into league play, it’s fair to say Indiana has made progress in taking care of the ball.

The Hoosiers had just 11 turnovers on Sunday for a final turnover percentage of 16.9. It was the third straight game Indiana had a turnover percentage below 18 and the fifth time that has happened in league play.

Indiana is currently sixth in the Big Ten in turnover percentage in conference games at 16.9 percent. Last season, Indiana was last in the conference in turnover percentage at 21.3.

· A big recruiting afternoon in Bloomington: A weekend afternoon home game is an excellent time to get visitors on campus to experience a gameday atmosphere at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. And on Sunday, the IU coaching staff assembled a strong list of prospects to watch the Hoosiers crush Northwestern.

The headliner was five-star New Albany guard Romeo Langford, who made his first in-season campus trip to Bloomington. Langford is down to a final three of Indiana, Kansas and Vanderbilt. Class of 2018 point guard signee Robert Phinisee was also in attendance.

Others spotted in attendance include Valparaiso guard Brandon Newman (2019), Cathedral guard Armaan Franklin (2019), New Castle forward Mason Gillis (2019) and Bloomington South guard Anthony Leal (2020).

· Northwestern is the Big Ten’s biggest disappointment: After starting the season in the Associated Press top 25, Northwestern is now 11-8 and 2-4 in the league.

The Wildcats have little chance of returning to the NCAA tournament and may be in jeopardy of missing the postseason altogether if a turnaround doesn’t happen soon.

So what’s happened in Evanston?

Despite returning much of the same cast from last season, Northwestern has regressed defensively. The Wildcats were 32nd last season in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency, but are just 86th this season.

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  • TomEke

    You can’t overstate the difference between a half with Juwan Morgan and a half without him. The same goes for Zach McRoberts.
    Northwestern is a disappointing team, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t a solid team. This was a good win.

  • Ivan Renko

    it was great to see Clifton get some minutes when the game was still tight. his 2 blocks were impressive. he’s still so raw though, and got burned BAD on a pick and roll. he seems only slightly more mobile than DD on defense, and his offense is still about 0 threat at this point. his one jump shot was clearly baited by his NW defender.

    I’m extremely optimistic about his future though. he’s going to learn and develop into a solid contributor I believe. maybe not this year, but in a few years most likely.

    It still never ceases to amaze me just how much of a difference JM and ZMc make on this team. thank goodness for our well executed defense in the first half while they were sitting.

  • Kyl470

    Remember how Richard Pitino won Big 10 coach of the year last year and everyone was suggesting the Chris Collins would soon be getting a bigger job. Boy have both programs failed to live up to expectations this year with both team returning a majority of their roster from the previous year.

  • Mark Bando

    I hope Romeo appreciates good defensive basketball and good ball movement.

  • PBzeer

    Both teams lost their “glue guy” to graduation, and neither has found a replacement yet. NW might find one, but I doubt Minny does.

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    proud of this team!
    knight tight D in the first half
    this team is learning how to play together
    JM does so much other than score
    IU will continue to get better as the year goes along
    love coach Miller

  • just a fan

    Anyone else note that play where ZMR streaked down court on the elbow of the Northwestern player, the ball handler kept shooting glances over at him with a “What’s he going to do?”…well, he, Zach, promptly took the ball away. The kid has a defensive mindset I’ve not seen since watching Victor staring into the eyes of the player he was about to strip of the ball. Cool !

  • VOXAC30

    Clifton Moore is deserving of the minutes he got. I know there was a lot of talk about him working hard in practice and with DD out the dynamic of the team has changed. CM is not a 6′ 10′ monster but gets to his spots quicker, and as much as I like DD, it seems CM has a higher ceiling. Credit to Archie he limited his minutes for more confidence. Towards the end of the season I think he will average around 10 – 12 and could be higher.

  • dwdkc

    Have to disagree with #5; Minnesota which received some top 10 votes early in the year lost by 23 at Northwestern and by 34 at Purdue in their last two games. They are disintegrating. I don’t think Pitino jr. knows what he is doing

  • Colt

    You can see the confidence growing with IU. This is huge. They have a tough stretch ahead but I am looking forward to it.

  • Ivan Renko

    Both NW and Minn have been massive disappointments, that is for sure.

    But NW has been getting blown out all season by every quality team they’ve played (besides Purdue, funny enough), and barely squeaking by below average teams.

    Minnesota played tough until just the past 2 games… getting blown out ironically by NW and completely dismantled by PU. but part of that can be attributed to losing 2 starters, so the “disappointment” can be a little tempered since they haven’t been at full strength for their recent 3 game skid.

  • Koko

    Great to see CM on the floor. He did fine….a good gradient. I hope it
    continues as the season goes on.

  • Guyton25

    Loved the Guyton acknowledgment during the game. That game was everything I’ve been waiting for. The players seemed to have finally finished downloading and installing Archie’s D system, RJ & Newkirk finally found their stroke from 3, and we finaly got a commanding victory over a (supposedly) pretty good team. All while (and due to) limiting TOs and rebounding the ball all around. I never would have thought we could have this kind of game without Morgan (1/2) or DeRon.

    Perfect time to click too.. because half of the remaining schedule is against ranked teams.

  • Kyl470

    The offense creates plenty of open looks. Just need a guy like Romeo to make the shots.

  • vicbert caladipo

    1. I am now starting to see the improvement a lot of you were talking about in having Coach Miller over Coach Crean. We are winning games we would have choked under Crean.

    2. Piggybacking on Miller. I like his rotations and substitution patterns and pulling players making dumb mistakes. FOOTNOTE: CBS decided I needed to hear from their cast of merrymen analyzing the NFL game not broadcasting IU until the 17 min mark. Why was Zach benched the first half? And apparently Juwan picked up 2 quick ones. Legit??

    3. Our lineup with all the vets is finally showing the leadership and execution I had hoped and expected. Juwan, Collin, Zach, RJ and JN is a tough lineup especially defensively.

    4. The freshmen played key reserve roles. Smith although a starter sometimes seems to excel better off the bench and is a freakish athlete. Al is a tough defender and smart kid who works his butt off. Cliff’s blocked shots were sweeeeet. Glad he got a little action.

    5. Call me a pessimist but even as well as we are playing, we still will probably lose 5 out of the next 6. Keep proving me wrong Hoosiers, but having a small lineup is going to show coming up with 2 with MSU and 1 with Peeyoo. At least now it looks like we have a chance but are going to have to catch these teams having off nights.

  • vicbert caladipo

    You won’t find class as long as Nick Ward is on your team. I took great pleasure watching Mo Wagner and Livers school him. Plan on a lot of posing and flexing and elbows in the head and back this Friday of which 99% won’t be called. I find it virtually impossible for Juwan to stay on the court in this one as well as most all our other bigs.

  • marcusgresham

    I asked the same about McRoberts. He also had two fouls.

  • marcusgresham

    I was thinking about the people who suggested IU should go after Collins.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I thought that too, but the scoreboard showed 2 team fouls and JM had the 2??

  • David

    I’m pretty sure the scoreboard showed 5 fouls at that point, but the number was small and it looked a little like 2.

  • cbags05

    CBS is terrible. Not only did they make us watch those clowns, they had like 5 minutes of commercials before switching….while IU was in action.

  • Ms hoosier

    Nick Ward will get away with absolute murder and IU won’t be able to touch Bridges!!!

  • vicbert caladipo

    That’s a lot of fouls in 2 mins. Thanks. CBS always seems to botch the start of all IU games unless we follow an infomercial. I watch games like a fan scoring a baseball game and I hate missing stuff

  • Outoftheloop

    This win was a great example of Archie Ball: tough defense, lots of assists, good use of personnel, good team communication, great hustle; but still lots to improve on. Hit some FT’s, take your good shots, make the simple pass, etc. A fun work in progress!

  • Parker Gabhart

    No one is gonna talk about Josh Newkirk throwing down the dunk!!!