Hoosier defense recipe for Wildcat blowout, 66-46

Photo Courtesy of IU Athletics

That same Indiana team that was blown out of its own house by Indiana State and Fort Wayne is now tied for 3rd in the Big Ten Conference. A three-game winning streak has the Hoosiers steered down a different path– one that could very well extend the season for Archie Miller in his first year as head coach at Indiana. Coach Miller’s signature pack-line defense showed its first true success when it shut the Wildcats down Sunday evening. Archie’s 150th career win over Northwestern was a total blowout– 66-46.

Indiana’s leading scorer Juwan Morgan sat out in foul trouble just 2 minutes into the game Sunday night. With Morgan on the bench, the rest of the team had to pick up slack. Coach Miller was very satisfied with their defensive efforts that held Northwestern to 24% from the field and 27.3% from the three in the first half.

That same defensive hustle in the second half paired with defensive rebounding and upperclassmen point contributions was a recipe for a blowout in the second half. Indiana froze the Wildcats in their tracks– not a single player scored in the double digits. Hoosier defense completely shutdown Northwestern’s leading scorer. Scottie Lindsey was 1-15 from the field and 0-7 behind the arc. Two points was a far cry from his team-leading 14.7 point average.

“It was our best (defensive) game,” senior guard Robert Johnson said after leading the team with 17 points and 6 rebounds. Johnson’s shooting struggles have taken a toll on his confidence this season. Sunday night was different, though. Johnson was 5-11 from the 3, even better than his 5-12 from the field. “If we continue to tighten things up at the offensive end, we’ll be in a good spot,” Johnson said turning a page in his senior season.

One man down

Without De’Ron Davis, Indiana’s defense seems to be doing better. But it’s not because of a lacking on Davis’ end– Davis was a key big man up until his season-ending Achilles injury. “I think one of the things that we knew once De’Ron went out was we were going to be smaller so we’re going to have to pick up our intensity and our ball pressure,” Johnson explained, “And I think we’ve caused a little more turnovers, guys are putting that much more effort towards defense and I think it’s been good for us.” Indiana had 11 turnovers to Northwestern’s 17 on Sunday.

“It’s fun playing defense, getting turnovers because it leads to easy offense,” senior guard Josh Newkirk said after his 12 point performance, “So we want to keep getting stops, want to keep getting easy transition points because it makes the offensive end so much easier.” It did indeed make all the difference for the Hoosiers when they pocketed 18 points off of Northwestern’s turnovers.

“I think when you get into league play you’ll only be as good as your guards,” Coach Miller claims. If Sunday night’s performance becomes the new way of play for the guards, no doubt things will look up for Indiana.

Looking Ahead

The 20-point victory over Northwestern was a much-needed confidence boost for Indiana (11-7, 4-2) as they hit the road to face off No. 9 Michigan State (16-3, 4-2). The Spartans will be hungry for a win after being upset by Michigan. Tip-off is set for Friday, December 19th at 8:00pm EST at the Breslin Center in East Lansing, Michigan.