Thursday, February 07, 2019 1:00 am
Hoosiers' schedule turns in their favor
After road struggles, IU to play 5 of next 7 at Assembly Hall
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington
When: 9 p.m. today
Records: Indiana (13-9, 4-7 Big Ten), Iowa (17-5, 6-5)
Radio: 1250 AM, 102.9 FM
The worst of Indiana's Big Ten schedule is over. The Hoosiers stumbled through a string of six out of eight games on the road, but finished the stretch with a huge win over then-No. 6 Michigan State in East Lansing.
“It felt good,” guard Aljami Durham said of that victory. “To finally see our hard work in practice, the long stretch that we went on and just us bonding and staying together really finally paid off in that one win at Michigan State in that environment.”
With that grueling stretch in the rear-view mirror, the Hoosiers' hopes for an NCAA Tournament bid are still afloat, but they will need to take advantage of this upcoming stretch of five home matchups out of seven games. That run begins tonight, when Indiana welcomes No. 20 Iowa to Assembly Hall, one of just two games the Hoosiers will play from Feb. 3 to 15.
One of the keys for Indiana (13-9, 4-7 Big Ten) tonight will be the availability of senior forward Juwan Morgan. After suffering a left shoulder injury and missing the second half and overtime against Michigan State, coach Archie Miller said Morgan is likely to play.
“As far as I know, (he'll play),” Miller said. “He's been back at practice the last couple days and doesn't see any setbacks. I think we avoided maybe a bigger problem.”
Morgan, who averages 15.9 points and 8 rebounds, had surgery on the same shoulder after his freshman season and was worried the injury was more serious than it turned out to be.
“I think (Morgan) was really, really scared at the time,” Miller said. “But I think as it got calmed down and he got home and got some therapy and some treatment he's feeling good, and he hasn't missed a practice.”
With Morgan likely back, Indiana is as close to full strength as it's been all season. With De'Ron Davis' ankle almost 100 percent and Devonte Green back from his suspension, the Hoosiers are missing only Zach McRoberts (foot) in practice.
With only two games in this two-week span, Indiana can focus more on getting healthy and being ready to go for the stretch run, which includes home games against No. 9 Michigan State, No. 15 Purdue and No. 19 Wisconsin.
“A big deal for us all year is to be able to have some time to work with them and get the guys that aren't either feeling well or need rest,” Miller said. “So we're in a unique situation here.”
“You travel that much, it's inevitable guys will get sick. You'll have some guys in and out, so this is a time where hopefully we can continue to recover and play with as many bodies as we have had.”
Though this is a comparatively light portion of the schedule, IU will still need to be ready for Iowa. The Hawkeyes (17-5, 6-5) average nearly 82 points and are coming off a 74-59 upset over then-No. 5 Michigan.
Junior forward Tyler Cook leads Iowa with 16 points and eight rebounds per game, while 6-foot-11 sophomore Luke Garza scores 15 points per game.