Indiana Basketball vs. Iowa: Game info, preview, and prediction

BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 19: Juwan Morgan #13 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers at Assembly Hall on February 19, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
BLOOMINGTON, INDIANA - FEBRUARY 19: Juwan Morgan #13 of the Indiana Hoosiers shoots the ball against the Purdue Boilermakers at Assembly Hall on February 19, 2019 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Indiana travels to Iowa City Friday, February 22, to take on the No. 21 Iowa Hawkeyes. It is a must-win game for the Hoosiers to have any hope for discussion of an NCAA tournament bid.

Iowa features an offense with two elite back-to-the-basket scorers in junior forward Tyler Cook (15.9 PPG) and sophomore forward Luka Garza (13.1 PPG). The Hawkeyes lost a heartbreaker to Maryland by one point Tuesday, snapping a four game winning streak. They sit at a very respectable 20-6 and are sixth in the Big Ten standings.

Although their big men are their two best players, Iowa has been led in scoring by either guard Jordan Bohannon or Joe Wieskamp over the past four games, as the skill of Cook and Garza close to the basket sucks the defense in and makes it easy for shooters to find open space.

Indiana was previously the victim of this on February 7th, when Bohannon had 25 points on 5-of-8 3pt shooting. This was one of many incidents where a hot three point shooter on the opposing team torched Indiana.

Indiana was able to completely take away Luka Garza on the offensive end last game, allowing only four points and five rebounds. Every time Garza caught the ball, Justin Smith came over for the double team, which forced several bad decisions from the big man.

Tyler Cook, however, had a very good game, scoring 21 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists. Indiana will need to find a way to repeat their success against Garza without giving up points to Cook and Bohannon instead.

Keys to the game

  • As I said, the double team was crucial in shutting down Luka Garza, so Indiana should stick with that strategy despite the fact that Iowa will definitely scout it. Even though Iowa will likely be better prepared for double teams, Garza looked so out of sorts during the first game that it is worth trying to repeat the same strategy.
  • De’Ron Davis was the best player for Indiana in the last game versus Iowa, and he’ll need to be superb again on Friday. Davis finished with seven assists in 22 minutes, and his ability to find cutters fueled the Indiana offense. Davis will most likely start for the third straight game in order to negate the strength and skill of Tyler Cook offensively.
  • Indiana needs to keep the same effort level as last game. It is extremely rare to lose a game after holding a team to just 48 points on 32 percent shooting like IU did against Purdue on Tuesday. If they can repeat the same kind of energy on defense, then they give themselves a chance to win every game no matter how bad the offense is.
  • Speaking of offense, there is no excuse– it has to be better. Way better. Archie Miller can certainly coach defense and effort, but this team can be so much better offensively than it is at this stage of the season. At the very least, the Hoosiers have a reliable fallback option (which they rarely use) in pick and rolls/pops with Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan. This gives the two best players on the team a chance to touch the ball and it keeps Iowa’s big men from clogging the paint. Unfortunately, I doubt that the offense will suddenly be fixed. There needs to be some serious reflection and analysis by the Indiana coaching staff this offseason to determine what went wrong on offense this season. A team that formerly boasted the 2nd-best field goal percentage in the country now has a complete inability to generate the slightest inkling of a functional offense. A good offense should leave fans confident that their team can execute well enough to put the ball in the hole on close to 40-50 percent of their attempts. A made basket should never feel like a surprise, but with this team, it feels exactly that way. Every time Indiana scores I get a sense of relief, like they got a gift they didn’t deserve in the form of points on the board. Until this is fixed, it doesn’t matter how good the effort on defense is. They will lose.

Ultimately, I think Indiana will lose this game by allowing too many threes, turning it over too much, and failing to generate any type of offense: the downfalls that have plagued Indiana all year.

What you need to know

What? Indiana 13-13 (4-11) at No. 21 Iowa 20-6 (9-6)
When? Friday, February 22 — 9pm EST
Where? Carver Hawkeye Arena — Iowa City, IA
Radio? Indiana Radio Network, Sirius XM 84
All-Time Series? Indiana leads series 67- 57
Prediction? Iowa 72, Indiana 55

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