Indiana basketball managed to squeak by with another victory Saturday improving to an 8-2 record on the year. At Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the Hoosiers topped the Louisville Cardinals with a 68-67 win. This is the third victory in a row that Indiana has won by two points or fewer. Although their last several games were decided at the buzzer, here are some reasons why the team has been able to come out victorious.
On Tuesday, senior forward Juwan Morgan appeared to exit the game with a rather serious injury but somehow managed to start in Saturday’s contest. If the team were unable to have Morgan back in their lineup, then they would have had to rely on sophomore Justin Smith. Smith is an exceptional athlete, recording the university’s best vertical jump, but lacks the experience of Morgan. In games that are decided by just a couple of points, experience can be the difference maker. By having Morgan back to starting status, the Hoosiers can continue utilizing his strengths in the post.
At the beginning of the season, there were not many fans or analysts, who believed freshman Rob Phinisee would make a significant impact for Indiana. Phinisee used that as motivation, and all that work is starting to pay off. He is nailing open shots from behind the arc and dishing out assists at crucial moments in the game. Although Romeo Langford will remain in the spotlight for the duration of the season, there are plenty of essential roles supporting him in the background. Indiana’s freshman talent is going to keep them in games and will ultimately result in deciding factors as the season progresses.
On the other side of the ball, Indiana has struggled to keep turnovers to a minimum, especially in their crushing defeat to the Duke Blue Devils. The Hoosiers have used that game as a point of reference to reflect on their mistakes and improve their defensive scheme. As conference play draws near, the Hoosiers will need to buckle down and take care of the basketball. The Big Ten conference is far too talented to be turning the ball over 12+ times per game. If the team is going to have a legitimate shot at a Big Ten title, then they will need to focus on making crisp passes while committing minimal turnovers.
Indiana is on a three-game winning streak and appears to be red-hot after defeating the Cardinals on Saturday. The team will face another difficult matchup in the Crossroads Classic against a talented Butler Bulldog squad. Be sure to tune in Saturday to see if Indiana can extend their winning streak.