Turnovers doom Indiana as the Hoosiers fall short to the Wildcats at Home. (Postgame thoughts)

Indiana desperately needed a get right game to get their Big Ten campaign on course. Unfortunately despite two large offensive performances by Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis, the Hoosiers’ lack of execution and effort on the defensive end would end up costing them another tally in the win column. The Wildcats out executed the Hoosiers and with the turnover differential being as drastic as it was, Indiana didn’t have much of a chance despite their desperate late game run.

Turnovers killed the Indiana Hoosiers. Unable to handle the pressure with the necessary poise, the Hoosiers gave the Northwestern Wildcats a total of 16 turnovers. The Wildcats took full advantage of the opportunity to score a total of 25 points off of turnovers. The turnovers came due to a lack of attention and finishing plays out. The most frustrating aspect of these turnovers, for this fan at least, is just the lack of interest surrounding them. Not just the lack of interest and intention to complete passes, but the lack of interest to commit to defending in transition following said turnover. Whatever it is, it needs addressed by Mike Woodson and company.

Jalen Hood-Schifino was finding his shot at a rapid rate in this game, scoring 33 points and recording his career high. While the impressive shot making was nice to see, the six turnovers at the hands of the Wildcat defense were not. Jalen showed a lot of scoring ability in this game against the Northwestern Wildcats, but also displayed a lack of execution that I hope can be addressed. While that lack of execution was painful to see, it was not all on Jalen, as the Hoosiers 16 total turnovers took a team effort to accumulate. Despite the impressive shooting numbers, you wish we could have seen our young phenom find a victory in tandem with such a performance.

Anyway you cut it, 24 rebounds is effort. It is a monstrous stat.

Trayce played equally as impressive. Trayce played hard on the offensive end and on the boards. He was able to work for 18 points and an astounding, jaw dropping 24 rebounds. 24 rebounds set a new career high for Trayce Jackson-Davis. Even with two career performances, the turnover differential between the Northwestern Wildcats and the Indiana Hoosiers would ultimately prove to large to make up for.

While Miller Kopp and Tamar Bates have both been reliable options for the Hoosiers on the offensive end for much of this season, neither was able to contribute much in this one. 5 points for Miller. 9 for Tamar. Neither was able to find the open spots that they’ve been knocking down reliably this season. These guys are often times responsible for the large momentum adjusting 3 pointers that can spark a run. I have to hope that both can find a way to get back to finding their opportunities on the wing. Their presence on the perimeter and the threat of them popping a game-changing 3 pointer, is crucial to opening up defenses on the interior.

Indiana’s inability to shoot free throws looks to be a consistent issue for the Hoosiers lately. While the percentage was alright, in this one it was the Hoosiers’ inability to get to the line that stood out. As the Wildcats got to the line 28 times, the Hoosiers took a total of 14 free throw. The free throw division really shows Northwestern’s priority of working the ball into the interior to damage the Hoosiers, even with the influx provided by late game fouling.

Wildcats came. Wildcats conquered.

The Indiana defense did themselves no favors in this matchup. Allowing a season high against a power 5 opponent for the Wildcats, 84 points, the Hoosiers defense was porous throughout this matchup. Indiana’s interior defense was abhorrent, allowing the Wildcats 40 points on the interior. Despite sprinkling in a few zone looks against the Wildcat offense, Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers were unable to slow down the Wildcats’ interior cutters. Boo Buie scored 26 for the Wildcats, while Chase Audige dropped 19. The Northwestern guards were able to position themselves in the paint and made the most of their chances. They were also heavily involved in the defensive effort that immediately paid off offensively in the form of points off of turnovers.

The Indiana Hoosiers are playing some of the most heartbreaking ball to watch. Seeming to never get a break, while also never taking advantage of the few we are given, the Indiana Hoosiers’ top brass have to find something to inspire this team. I do feel bad critiquing these guys too harshly, but I’m starting to lose hope with each tired and emotionless performance this team is putting together. While by every measure the Hoosiers should be one of the most dangerous teams in College basketball their play has been uninspired and unmotivated. I’m not a head coach, never claim to be, but something must be done. Nothing has worked to get a consistent performance out of the Hoosiers. If the Hoosiers look to compete moving forward, with plenty of time left to do so, Mike will have to figure some way to light a fire in a team playing well below what they could be.

Mike Woodson said he would be looking to tinker the rotation in order to get this team on tack. But, I don’t know how much more tinkering we could do. With the current injuries on this roster, it may take one of these key role players stepping up and delivering more than we could fairly expect from them. With Trayce getting 40 minutes in this one, both Jordan Geronimo and Malik Reneau will be tasked to step up to the occasion. Without Race, this team loses valuable minutes in the front court. If the Hoosiers are to find any front court production, other than the reliable production of Trayce, Malik will have to muscle through these current growing pains as soon as possible.

I have to believe that we can still get on course.

Even with this loss at home, I can’t help but think this team is one “come to Jesus” speech from playing to the potential of this roster. I still have faith in these Indiana Hoosiers. Still a lot of time to figure it out, but Mike Woodson really needs to show signs that this squad is figuring it out. These small lapses in effort and falling short in execution are a coach’s problem to solve. Whatever the case, the time for resolution is now. And while I say there’s plenty of ball still left to play, if the Hoosiers don’t show signs of improvement here shortly, I’m afraid of the hole the Hoosiers could be digging for themselves.

But think about how close Indiana has been in some of these games in spite of glaring, yet seemingly fixable inadequacies. They are still competing. A few balls bouncing the other way and our Big Ten record looks different. Don’t give up on these Hoosiers just yet.

That being said, this is Big Ten Basketball. Everyone’s beating everyone, this year more than ever it seems. That Northwestern team finds themselves 2nd in the standings while the Hoosiers find themselves 2nd from last. There is still plenty of time to flip the table.

Thanks for taking the time to read these short thoughts of a Hoosier fan. Just writing about the team to pass the time in between tips. I released a new episode of the OFTEN DAUNTED podcast with this, so if you’d like to give me a listen, give it one wherever you get your podcasts.

It’s always darkest before the dawn Hoosier fans, this squad can still turn it around. On to Jalen Pic… I mean Penn State.

LUX ET VERITAS!

-Burke

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