The Indiana basketball team has hit a tough stretch of inconsistent play recently. They must solve their second-half troubles if they want to win many more games.
The Hoosiers have gone just 2-2 in their last four games and they are lucky to have come away with those two wins. They could have just as easily gone 0-4 in those games, but if a couple of things would have broken the other way against Arkansas they could have been 3-1.
In the other game against Maryland, they got down late in the first half and never really recovered. But even then they were very competitive with the Terrapins early in that game and at times looked like they were the better team.
There have been lots of different reasons why the Hoosiers have struggled to win those games, but the biggest has been their baffling quality of play in the second half.
It started with their game against Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic. The Hoosiers were coming into the game after a gritty overtime win against Nebraska and looked well on their way to cruising past the Fighting Irish. The Hoosiers lead by 11 at halftime and led by 12 with just under 12 minutes to play. Over the next eight minutes, though, Notre Dame would outscore the Hoosiers by 17 to take a five-point lead. Luckily Indiana figured it out just in time to come away with the win.
Another eight minute stretch of bad play hit the Hoosiers against Arkansas the very next game. This time, though, it cost them the game. Indiana led the Razorbacks by nine with just over eight minutes to play. They would only score three more points the rest of the way and lose by seven.
The Hoosiers would travel to Maryland for their next game, and while overmatched they were only down eight with 10:51 left in the game. But yet again the second half bit them in the butt as they would get outscored by 22 points over the next seven minutes as the lead ballooned to 30. A semi-close game turned into a rout as the Hoosiers could never recover.
The start of the second half against Northwestern looked like much of the same as the Wildcats built what seemed like an insurmountable 10 point lead halfway through. Fortunately for the Hoosiers, they were able to recover and pull out the win, but against a better team, that stretch in the second half would have killed them.
Our own Trevor Gersmehl outlined the lack of playmakers for the Hoosiers and that is part of the reason why they are struggling, but why has it been in the second half?
It has been almost unbelievable the troubles the Hoosiers have had over the last four games in the second half. Yes, they have had some trouble in the first, but it doesn’t seem like much changes in the second half except for the play of Hoosiers.
They have gotten away with it twice and still nearly beat Arkansas also. But as they start to play some of the better teams in the Big Ten, this formula isn’t going to work. Archie Miller has to have seen the same thing and maybe a change in the rotation will do it.
Whatever the answers may be, they need to find it fast. Because if they don’t start playing better in the second half the Hoosiers are going to be playing in the NIT or worse.