Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over Illinois

  • 02/15/2018 10:21 am in

Indiana won its third straight game as the Hoosiers beat Illinois 78-68 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Wednesday night. The win improved Indiana to 15-12 overall and 8-7 in conference play.

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

· Bench comes up big: Offensively, Wednesday’s performance was one of Indiana’s most balanced efforts of the season.

The Hoosiers had five players finish in double figures and Freddie McSwain wasn’t far behind with nine points. Three of the five double figure scorers were reserves as 38 of the team’s 78 points came from bench.

Al Durham Jr. tied for a team-high with 14 points, Justin Smith added 13 and Josh Newkirk had 11.

“Our coaches always tell us to be ready,” Smith said postgame. “When our number was called, we were able to get in the game and make something happen, trying to get the juices flowing.”

It was the first time Durham has scored in double figures in league play and just the third double figure effort in Big Ten play by Smith.

· Morgan dominates again: Although his 14 points were well below his scoring average in Big Ten play, Juwan Morgan was still dominant in the win over the Illini.

Beyond the scoring, Morgan stuffed the stat sheet with 10 rebounds, five blocked shots, four steals and three assists in 37 minutes. He was 4-of-8 from the field and 6-of-7 from the free throw line.

“He’s doing it almost every game,” Archie Miller said. “Doesn’t get as much notice but blocks a lot of shots and defensive rebounds and steals the ball. He’s a very good defender, a valuable defender on our team, not the biggest at times guarding in the post, but I think what he’s done for our team on both ends of the floor has been really good.”

· Indiana’s turnaround defensively has been remarkable: Indiana has just three Big Ten games remaining, but has already surpassed its conference win total for last season.

The catalyst for Indiana’s improve play in recent weeks has been evident: defense.

The Hoosiers are now ranked 50th nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted defensive efficiency metric and have the second best defense in conference play at .98 points per possession allowed. Indiana had the league’s worst defense last season in conference play.

In Wednesday’s win, Indiana held a third straight Big Ten opponent below a point per possession as Illinois managed just .95 points per trip.

· Hoosiers make life harder for Trent Frazier: Illinois freshman guard Trent Frazier scored 19 points in the first meeting between the two teams last month in Champaign.

Indiana did a much better job on Frazier in the rematch as the 6-foot-1 guard finished with 12 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field.

“I thought the defensive effort for the most part on Trent Frazier was pretty good,” Miller said postgame. “He had really hurt us in the first one, and when he gets going they’re hard to deal with.”

· Free throw shooting didn’t derail IU’s chances for a win: Indiana lost the first meeting between the two teams in large part because it couldn’t make free throws.

The Hoosiers went just 16-of-29 from the line in Champaign in a 73-71 loss on Jan. 24.

Illinois committed 24 fouls in Wednesday’s game and Indiana again went to the line 29 times. But the Hoosiers knocked down 20 of their attempts in the win for 69 percent. While not a great percentage, it was significantly better than Indiana’s numbers to date in Big Ten play (63.7 percent).

“I feel a lot of our struggles have been because one person wasn’t making free throws and that escalated into everything,” Smith said. “We’re still working on it in practice, looking to get better.”

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  • John D Murphy

    What a strange comment. Referring to the conference by the conference’s created and endorsed abbreviation (which i also just saw on btn) is not only ok….it is proper.

  • Yeah, no fourth ref, please.

  • John D Murphy

    No one is teaching AD how to release a basketball. You can’t work on that during the season. There isnt enough time to build muscle memory. There were too many other things to work on last summer. AD will be a case study this summer to see if Archie and staff take on the challenge of changing shot mechanics. That is actually something I think TC and staff did really well except for the disaster that was Stan.

  • John D Murphy

    Maybe the 3rd. Not the first. Although getting 6 wins out of that team was remarkable. Truthfully TC’s best coaching job

  • John D Murphy

    Exactly.. DG is making strides but they are coming in fits and starts. I think DG will be better next yr and all B1G his senior year.

  • I really, really, really hope JM returns next season.

  • I just don’t think we’ll go 0-3 in these final games. I’m guessing 2-1, because winning at Nebraska will be tough. But I think we can handle Iowa at their place, assuming the defense holds up (and at this point, there’s no reason to think it won’t). And I’m expecting a rowdy crowd for senior night against OSU, and a great performance. We started slow against OSU, but played them even the rest of the way — I expect a much better start in the next game.

  • Arch Puddington

    “B1G” is not only technically correct nomenclature, it wouldn’t matter if it weren’t. Abbreviations and shorthand are useful expressions on a blog such as this, and just part of the idiosyncrasies of an online community.

  • iugradmark

    I found that interesting. I guess I assumed that DG was hurt and that is why he did not return against Illinois. Now it seems that it was how he was playing v. Josh that Archie decided to stay with the Senior. Illinois clearly had a plan to disrupt our guards and their coach mentioned Devonte by name. Unfortunately it was pretty effective. I am hoping for a bounce back against Iowa. I also think Al may be given some more minutes to see if he can continue his positive play from the Illinois game.

  • coachv

    i will be glad when in a few years they decide on a new logo and no will will use B1G again. maybe the big fourteen

  • coachv

    i guess you can call a logo a form of abbreviation as that is its intended purpose. still a logo

  • dennis powell

    Good win against Illini but not very pretty. Who was the guy playing in AD’s body. I kind of liked that guy. JS keeps making strides. JM is a stud.

  • It’s interesting: against Illinois, we needed guards who would dribble drive against their defense and exploit gaps for layups. Illinois commits to jumping the passing lanes, which is part of why we had so many turnovers, but that tends to leave the inside of the defense open. Josh and Al haven’t been as quick to pick up Archie’s motion offense but have more maintained their tendency to dribble (particularly Josh), and so their tendencies were actually preferable in this game. One day we’ll have guards who can do both — move the ball with passing but also maintain the ability to dribble drive when needed against a team like Illinois. I think DG will be that guard one day, but I think he’s been focusing so much on fitting into Archie’s offense that maybe he wasn’t prepared for this particular style. I expect him to be back in form against Iowa.

  • stavrogin44

    Thank you for pedantically pointing out this mistake. After reading your incoherent post, it’s evident you have the literacy level of a fifth grader, which makes sense given that intelligence and overconfidence tend to be inversely correlated. Please let me know how else I can improve.

  • aniceguy

    Also, it was Valentine’s Day! Bars and restaurants in town were all packed. Still sad.

  • gokartmozart89

    I’d argue that B1G is better if only because there have been more than 10 schools in this conference for most of my life at this point. I’d rather go with a stylized “BIG” instead of continuing to live in the past while signaling to the rest of the conferences that our academic institutions are collectively incapable of counting. Leave that chicanery to the Big 12.