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The Journal Gazette

Thursday, February 07, 2019 10:10 pm

Halftime: No. 20 Iowa 46, Indiana 36

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – For a brief moment, we saw is the Indiana team we expected to see most of the season.

Early in the first half against Iowa, the Hoosiers flew all around the court on defense, partially stifling the Hawkeyes' powerful offense. After falling behind 9-2 in the first minutes, Indiana began pushing the ball up the court on every Iowa miss and got several easy baskets off of nice passes. The finishes at the rim, coming in rapid-fire fashion, got the crowd into the game and helped push Indiana in front with a 13-2 run.

As the half wore on, Indiana kept pushing the ball, but was a little sloppy with it, causing several turnovers. The Hawkeyes took advantage and went back in front with some solid ball movement on the offensive end. They hold a 16-5 lead in points off TOs at halftime. Iowa went into a zone for a good portion of the first half and Indiana moved the ball as well as it has in more than a month. Between the two offenses, this is basically the opposite of Indiana's rock fight against Rutgers last week. It's impressive to see the drastic improvement offensively.

Where the Hoosiers have struggled is inside against the Hawkeyes' size. Indiana is at its best when De'Ron Davis and Juwan Morgan share the court defensively, giving the Hoosiers a chance to match up against Iowa's 6-foot-9 Tyler Cook and 6-11 Luke Garza, both of whom have played well tonight. The pair has combined for 17 points and nine rebounds. That super-big Indiana lineup can't be out there all the time, though, and when it's not the Hawkeyes have a decided size advantage. Evan Fitzner and Justin Smith can't hope to guard Cook and so Indiana is sending a double-team at him when he catches the ball inside. That wouldn't be the worst idea, except Cook is a talented passer out of the post and Indiana's rotations have often been subpar, giving the Hawkeyes plenty of open shots. Either Davis has to play more minutes, or the Hoosiers really have to tighten up. Iowa is 7 of 16 from beyond the 3-point line and Joe Wieskamp is 4 for 5.

One player from whom Indiana needs more is Romeo Langford. Langford was aggressive in the early going, taking the ball to the hoop twice in the first few minutes. Since then, however, he's been active on the boards, but has mostly floated around the perimeter offensively. The Hoosiers need him to be more creative and move better without the ball. He's such a talented passer he should be able to make some plays against the zone if he gets to the middle.

This game will probably come down to which team shoots better from the outside in the second half. If Indiana can hit a few 3s and limit Iowa's open looks off of passes out of the post from Garza and Cook, it will have a chance to win. The best news is the Hoosiers have brought the necessary energy for a second straight game.

dsinn@jg.net