In Indiana Basketball’s previous five games, it has genuinely been a story of ups and downs. The Hoosiers (14-12, 7-7) have been the testament of a team trying to find itself, and they are looking to break through that testament.
The first game on this list was a heartbreaking 74-67 loss to No. 3 Purdue, a game in which Indiana had the lead and stayed within two points up until the final four minutes of the game. Indiana’s Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson both played their hearts out in this battle and came very close to knocking off one of the top teams in the nation.
The next two games were against No. 17 Ohio State and No. 5 Michigan State. The Hoosiers’ night against Ohio State was a rough one, where they lost 71-56 to the Buckeyes. The Hoosiers were playing their fourth game in just eight days against the Buckeyes, and the fatigue showed, with 36 percent shooting from the floor. The Hoosiers seemed to have their legs back against Michigan State, where they put up a fight the Spartans were not expecting. Indiana dropped the game 63-60 in the end. Michigan State is the national leader in rebounding margin and wound up getting outrebounded 53-29 and 25-3 on the offensive end by the Hoosiers.
Indiana took this momentum into the next two matchups with Rutgers and Minnesota. The Hoosiers looked dominant in both of these games, winning the two by a combined 46 points. Neither Minnesota nor Rutgers was projected to win either of those games, but both are a good sign that Indiana may be better off than anyone thought before. The Hoosiers showed fantastic defensive prowess in the two games, holding Rutgers and Minnesota to a combined 29 percent shooting from the field. If they can keep this level of defensive play up, the Hoosiers have nothing to worry about. Here are three things to look for in Indiana’s game against Illinois on Wednesday.
IU’s strong work on the boards.
As of late, Indiana’s rebounding numbers have become much more respectable. In the previous three
games, the Hoosiers have outrebounded opponents 120-93. This is an excellent statistic for Indiana, who were outrebounded 87-71 in the last three games before this.
One significant attribution for the rise in rebounding numbers is the addition of Freddie McSwain to the starting lineup. Since starting for Indiana, McSwain has posted insane rebounding numbers; he posted 16 rebounds against the Spartans, which were the most recorded rebounds in almost a decade by an Indiana player.
The Hoosiers aren’t exactly known for being a lockdown defensive team, but their numbers lately go against this belief. As stated earlier, the last two games have shown the true defensive potential for Indiana, holding Rutgers and Minnesota to a combined 29 percent from the field.
More fantastic play by Juwan Morgan
Juwan Morgan has been keeping up his consistently solid play this season. He has ended nights with 20 or more points in the last six out of seven Indiana games. If Morgan can continue to be consistent with his all-around game, the Hoosiers should be looking to win big against the Fighting Illini on Wednesday.