3 keys for Indiana Basketball against No. 6 Louisville

Dec 28, 2016; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward De
Dec 28, 2016; Bloomington, IN, USA; Indiana Hoosiers forward De /

The Indiana Hoosiers take on Louisville on Saturday at Banker’s Life Fieldhouse in the Countdown Classic.

The No. 16 Indiana Hoosiers had its 26-game home winning streak snapped on Wednesday night as they fell 87-83 to Nebraska. IU will look to rebound and close out 2016 on a high note as they take on an extremely tough Louisville team. Here are three keys to victory for the Hoosiers as they attempt to hand Louisville its second straight loss.

Value every possession

Cardinals head coach Rick Pitino is one of the best coaches in all of college basketball. Why? The emphasis on defense he puts on defense on his teams every single year. That is the case again this season. Louisville ranks No. 15 in the country in scoring defense holding its opponents to just 60.3 points per game.

The hard-nosed defense of the Cardinals is the backbone of Pitino’s team and how much success it will have this year. Indiana is coming off a loss in which it turned the ball over 19 times. If the Hoosiers continue to turn the ball over, they are going to have a long day against Louisville.

The Cardinals are +3.8 in turnover margin this season. They force their opponents to turn the ball over 15.7 times per game. Indiana must take care of the basketball. Like Indiana, Louisville is a team that wants to get up and down the court and run. They do so in different fashion though.

The Cardinals create turnovers and score in transition. If Indiana turns the ball over, Louisville will score the basketball. But if Indiana takes extra care of the ball and values every single possession as if it were its last, expect this to be an extremely competitive game in Indianapolis.

Play through the bigs

Coach Tom Crean and Indiana operate in a system that emphasizes ball movement and three pointers. Louisville comes into Saturday’s contest holding its opponents to shooting just 28% from beyond the arc. That’s the 7th best in the country.

One major adjustment that Indiana must make moving forward, especially on Saturday, is playing more through its big men. Indiana has incredible size, strength, and athleticism in its front court with Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby and De’Ron Davis.

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The Hoosiers did a better job in Wednesday’s game of getting their bigs involved. True freshman De’Ron Davis had an immediate impact off the bench as he caused so much attention on the low block. The Cornhuskers had no answer for Bryant as he went for 17-10-and-4 in Wednesday’s loss.

Indiana’s front court does not have to score of all its points on the block or in the paint because that is not how the Hoosiers operate in their system. Getting the IU bigs more touches on the block, though, will open up so much for the Indiana offense.

Bryant and Davis will draw double teams that will open up the threes that Indiana wants to shoot. Future NBA first-round draft pick OG Anunoby has to be more aggressive in getting to the hoop and causing havoc for opposing defenses with his lateral quickness. If the Hoosiers can play through their bigs on Saturday, they will be in a great position to walk away with a victory.


The Hoosiers cannot continue to allow teams to shoot lights out against them. When this happens, Indiana is in trouble. Louisville is not a team that is going to light up the scoreboard. In the Cards’ 13 games this season, the only player to record 20 points in a game is junior guard Quentin Snyder. The Louisville native scored 22 in the team’s win over Kentucky on December 21.

Louisville is a team, as previously mentioned, that wants to create turnovers and score in transition. Louisville has to work hard for its baskets in the half-court offense. Indiana must play tough defense and continue to make the Cardinals work hard for their baskets.

The Hoosier defense has been under much scrutiny during the Crean era. Indiana has played mostly man-to-man defense this season while mixing in a 2-3 zone from time to time. The Hoosiers cannot be lazy on the defensive end as they have been multiple times this season. If they allow guys to penetrate and get in the lane, once again, they are in trouble. While in the 2-3 zone, if they do not close out on shooters, guess what? They are in trouble.

It is time that this team starts to wake up on the defensive end. If they don’t, the Hoosiers are going to struggle on Saturday against Louisville.