Feeling confident after a strong win against Butler in the Crossroads Classic, the Hoosiers began their Big Ten gauntlet on Wednesday afternoon with a showdown against Northwestern. The Wildcats, who have not won at Assembly Hall since the 2014 season, rode a high wave into Bloomington after their thrilling victory over No. 4 Michigan State.
When Indiana had defensive challenges, they buckled down and improved. Each time they filled one hole, another crept up. When Indiana had offensive challenges, they played more actively and drove in to the center of the zone for open perimeter shots. Again, the defense seemed to fall apart again.
“For the first time all season, probably in 8 games, our defense did not do the job for us tonight,” said Indiana head coach Archie Miller.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, who scored a game high 22 points, pointed out after the game the gaps in Indiana’s performance.
As one of the leaders of the team, Jackson-Davis also took responsibility for his own play at the beginning of the game, “Yeah, obviously it is really tough to play with no fans, but I think still the bench was a big role, they were still amping us up a little bit. At the same time, I thought that I came out sluggish and I was getting frustrated. I let me emotions get the best of me early in the game.”
The Hoosiers got into a 15-point deficit, but slowly clawed back into the game, and they were down just by single digits as both teams entered the locker rooms for halftime.
“Second half, started the second half much, much better… and got ourselves right back in contention to play to win the game, and have a lead,” Miller said after the game.
Despite making adjustments, erasing the deficit and taking the lead, the Hoosiers were unable to sustain that lead.
“Yeah I thought our execution there at the end of the game, we took the lead with over five minutes left but down the stretch after that I thought we were sloppy. You do that against a good team, you get beat,” Jackson-Davis said.
Archie Miller also talked about the relentless of the Wildcats who would not go away even though they had lost a significant lead. “There with about 8 minutes, 7 minutes, 6 minutes… I thought Northwestern just kept coming. They kept executing… [I] thought we got fatigued, [and had] bad possessions.”
Starting guard Armaan Franklin ended the game with 16 points and 5 defensive rebounds.
Franklin, who has shown significant improvement in his own defensive performance, said that it was defensive effort at the final stretch that ultimately gave Northwestern the win.
“I mean give them credit. The biggest thing is they made shots down the stretch. I think they went on a nice little run at the end of the game and we did not execute our defense to the best of our ability. I think that played a major part towards the end.”
The Hoosiers won’t have much time as they prepare for No. 18 Illinois on Saturday.
Featured Photo: Indiana University Athletics