BLOOMINGTON – Indiana has struggled at times this season with long offensive droughts that lead to significant runs for opposing teams.
The Hoosiers helpfully emphasized that point tonight by having one of those Sahara-dry droughts right at the beginning of the game. From the 15:50 mark of the opening half until 10:32 remained, Indiana missed eight consecutive shots from the field and visiting Maryland opened up a 10-point lead. Then, after coming all the way back to tie the game, the Hoosiers did it again, going without a point for 4:23 near the end of the half. At halftime, the Terrapins lead 27-21.
Even worse for Indiana, guard Armaan Franklin, one of the team's best scorers in recent weeks and often the Hoosiers' only outside shooting threat went down on the fast break early in the game, losing the ball and clutching at his foot or ankle as he went to the ground. He tried to walk it off on the sideline, but eventually had to take his shoe off and get a tape job. He didn't return in the first half, but he did put his shoe back on so hopefully this isn't too serious and he can come back after halftime.
The Hoosiers eventually recovered from their bleak early start and it was in large part thanks to the energy of forward Race Thompson. The redshirt junior was all over the floor, scoring nine points on 4 for 5 from the field and grabbing seven rebounds in the opening half, to go along with a blocked shot. Three of his rebounds came on the offensive end to give the Hoosiers some extra chances and his effort seeped into the whole team, getting everybody playing at a higher level and helping Indiana escape its doldrums. When he spun to the rim for a basket with six minutes left, it completed a 12-2 Indiana run and knotted the score at 18.
Just as important was the continued ability of Trayce Jackson-Davis to get to the basket whenever he wanted. In the opening minutes, the Indiana forward attacked the hoop aggressively, but couldn't get anything to fall. He stuck with his game plan, however, and kept giving himself opportunities against smaller defenders around the rim. He eventually got a couple to fall and has five points and six rebounds at the break. He's only 2 for 9 from the field, but Indiana needs him not to get passive. The shots will eventually fall for one of the best players in the conference. If not, the Hoosiers are in big trouble.
Defensively, Indiana has been pretty good, outside of a couple of times that Jerome Hunter got badly beaten one on one. The Terps are shooting 38% from the field and 4 for 13 from beyond the 3-point line. The biggest problem for Indiana is that it's looking like last season when it shoots from the outside. The Hoosiers are generating some decent looks with at-times solid ball movement and cutting, but they're 0 for 9 from 3-point range and shooting only 30% overall. You're not going to win many games that way and the only reason they're in the game at all is Thompson's heroics. Outside of him, Indiana is hitting 24% from the field.
The Hoosiers have rotated in some more players tonight – Khristian Lander, Anthony Leal and Jordan Geronimo have all played and Leal in particular did some good things – in an effort to keep their stars from getting tired late in the game. Whether that works remains to be seen, but this is a game Indiana is playing well enough to win. Some shots are just going to need to fall and they haven't to this point. Getting Franklin back in the second half would help, but if he's out, Jackson-Davis might have to take over and go supernova.