The Iowa Hawkeyes (12-16, 3-12) face the Indiana Hoosiers (15-12, 8-7) in the penultimate home game of the 2017-18 season. The Hawkeyes look to flip the script from an early season loss which helped send this campaign into a tailspin.
In the second conference game, the Hoosiers took advantage of first half foul trouble from Tyler Cook. After he notched his second foul, Indiana finished the half 24-7 and took a 15-point lead into halftime.
They were the aggressors throughout much of the game and forced the action inside. Juwan Morgan, De’ron Davis, and Colin Hartman combined for 41 points and 21 rebounds, eight offensive. Iowa continued their trend of being loose with the ball and turned it over 18 times on 11 Hoosier steals. It was a script we’ve known well.
It was the singular time Fran McCaffery sent a message with wholesale changes to the lineup in the second half. Maishe Dailey, Brady Ellingson, Nicholas Baer, Jack Nunge, and Tyler Cook were able to spur the Hawkeyes to within a single point on two separate occasions but could never get the requisite stop to allow them a chance at taking the lead.
Ellingson had his best game that evening and shot 6/9 for 16 points. He was never able to rekindle that magic.
Since then, Indiana was able to brighten a rebuilding year and sit in the top half of the conference standings. They’ve been led by Juwan Morgan in scoring at 16.8 points a game and he’s joined in double figures by Robert Johnson at 13.4. Davis has since been sidelined with an Achilles tear and Archie Miller has opted to go small, as wings Justin Smith and Freddie McSwain have filled in for the 6’10 Davis.
The Hoosiers won’t play anyone over Morgan’s 6’7”, though it hasn’t stopped them from becoming one of the better defenses in the Big Ten. Morgan averages over a block per game and McSwain will also help protect the rim. Their swarming defense also forces opponents into a bevy of turnovers as they average over five steals per game.
If Iowa is going to take advantage of their size down low, it’s important they don’t fall victim to the same ills which took them out against Michigan earlier this week. It’s easy to hyper-focus on such a stark “on paper” advantage and being stagnant while forcing it down low are an easy way to turn the ball over.
Can Luka Garza and Cook hit the offensive boards? Despite their size disadvantage nearly every night, the Hoosiers have successfully kept opens off the glass with a defensive rebounding rate which ranks fourth in conference.
Iowa’s girth down low might also be able to force Indiana into foul trouble, as only Colin Hartman sits behind Morgan as a nominal center.
Indiana also allows opponents to take plenty of three pointers, often at a high clip. Jordan Bohannon should be able to get free but can Isaiah Moss or Maishe Dailey add to it? Maybe Brady Ellingson shows more of where the early season matchup came from.
Like most other games, though, this one will come down to some semblance of defense for the Hawkeyes. The size advantage they’ve toted nearly every game this season has often left them slower on defense. Indiana has the skill off the dribble to take advantage of Iowa in this area.
After Wisconsin’s unforeseen victory over Purdue, Iowa is pretty much locked into a bottom four spot in the Big Ten tournament. That doesn’t mean they can’t take advantage of a bad situation. If history is any guide, being home offers the Hawkeyes a chance to do just that.