It was supposed to be a special night for one Hoosier, Miller Kopp, who returned to Northwestern for the first time after transferring to Indiana after spending three years with the wildcats.
Instead, things started out about a handful of other Hoosiers, and that is why Indiana notched their second consecutive loss as Northwestern defeated Indiana 59-51.
Things looked much different against Northwestern and for all the wrong reasons. Indiana had five players suspended, including two starters. Parker Stewart, Xavier Johnson, Michael Durr, Tamar Bates and Khristian Lander were all out against the Wildcats due to disciplinary reasons.
“I am building a culture here,” said Mike Woodson. “I am not here to mess around with guys who are not willing to do what is asked of them.”
Anthony Leal and Trey Galloway started in replacement of Xavier Johnson and Parker Stewart. Kopp, Trayce Jackson-Davis, and Race Thompson rounded out the starting five.
In just his second career start Galloway made an impact early. He scored nine of Indiana’s first 14 points and started the game 4-for-4 including a three point make.
At the first media timeout the Hoosiers led 11-8 behind the play of Galloway and Jackson-Davis. Four of Northwestern’s first eight points were second chance baskets. Indiana gave up three offensive rebounds in the first five minutes of play and eight throughout the whole first half.
Indiana’ lack of depth at the point guard position in this game showed early but the Cream and Crimson did not let it waver the effort they gave.
Team captains Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis set the example of the level of intensity that was going to be needed to compete in this game. Even when things were not going the Hoosiers way, like a scoring drought that lasted almost five minutes, the Hoosiers never topping giving their full effort.
Did we mention it was Miller Kopps return to the school he spent three years at?
The Northwestern transfer received more cheers than boos when he hit his first three with 10:50 remaining in the first half but that was more due to the large attendance of IU fans in Evanston, IL.
The Hoosier led 24-21 with 5:07 remaining in the first half.
Despite picking up three first half fouls Jordan Geronimo gave the Hoosiers a much-needed spark off the bench. Geronimo finished the half with three points, two rebounds, and a block in ten minutes.
With the lack of depth head coach Mike Woodson was forced to go far down his bench. In fact, so far that a walk on saw minutes in the first half. Walk on Junior Nathan Childress checked in for the Hoosiers after Geronimo picked up his third foul of the half.
At held the Hoosiers had a four-point lead. 30-26. Jackson-Davis led the way for IU with nine points and six rebounds while Anthony Leal led the way in the assist column with two.
The second half started, and just as IU has done throughout the year, they struggled to get anything going early.
The Wildcats went on a 13-0 run in the second half and were able to force Indiana star Jackson-Davis into a shooting slump that saw him miss seven of his previous nine shots.
With 12:56 remaining Indiana trailed 41-35. IU started the second half just 2-of-9 from the field.
After starting 1-for-13 from long distance in the first half the Wildcats opened the second half shooting 3-of-7 from range, helping curate their largest lead of the night.
TJD scored on a thunderous dunk that ended an IU scoring drought of 5:51. Race Thompson then followed that up with an and-one layup but was unable to knock down the free throw and the deficit sat at five with 10:34 remaining in the game.
There was a lot of bad in this game but there was also some good. Trey Galloway is the perfect example of that. Galloway fouled out after playing the first 37 minutes of the game and Coach Woodson had high praise for “Gallo” after being thrown in at point guard due to the suspension of both Lander and Johnson.
“I thought he played well while he was out on the floor,” Woodson said.
The game was never in question after Galloway fouled out. The Hoosiers could never find an offensive rhythm and would go on to lose to the Wildcats 59-51. TJD picked up his 31st career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds but only shot 4-of-13 from the field. In the end it was not enough to overcome the lack of depth caused by the five suspensions.
This game is going to be a tough one to look back on knowing hat Northwestern shot just 32% (22-of-69) from the field and 19% (5-of-27) from long distance but coach Woodson knows they must shift their focus to Michigan State.
When asked about their play today moving forward Woodson said, “We gotta go back home and regroup and get ready for Michigan State.”
Indiana will look to snap their two-game losing streak as they travel to East Lansing, MI to face off against No. 17 Michigan State on Saturday Feb. 12 at 3:30 PM EST.
Photo by Indiana Athletics