For all of this team’s flaws, the Hoosiers have been competitive in five of seven Big Ten games, but still don’t have a win to show for it. Wednesday night’s loss in Evanston didn’t have the sting of the blown 20 point lead against Michigan, but would have been much easier to take if IU had at least been able to take a potential tying or winning shot instead of committing the 22nd turnover of the night. Here’s the box score
. This was a 69 possession game, practically frenetic for Northwestern, but the two teams combined for 41 turnovers, which shortened quite a few possessions for each team. That is a positive. As I noted in the preview, NU takes care of the ball very well, so it is to IU's credit that the Wildcats struggled to take care of the ball. NU's turnover percentage of 27.7% was its worst of the Big Ten season. Unfortunately, IU's 32% was its worst of the Big Ten season. Ultimately, it was a very evenly matched game. Both teams shot 12-23 from behind the arc. NU made three more field goals than IU. IU turned the ball over a touch more. IU made a few more free throws and won the rebounding battle (as does everyone against Northwestern). Northwestern played great defense on the final inbounds play, IU panicked a bit, and that was that.
While Tom Crean and his team don't want to consider moral victories, it is to Crean's immense credit that this team continues to fight, both in every game and when games seem out of reach, such as when Northwestern took a 9 point lead in the second half. Although obviously disappointed to lose, Crean offered his team a round of applause as they came off the court Wednesday night.
- Devan Dumes was great. 26 points on 16 attempts, 6-10 from behind the arc. Yes, he probably should have been ejected for the forearm to the head of Craig Moore. I don't really understand how the officials saw enough for a technical but not enough for the flagrant, but I won't complain. This has been the week of the cheap shot. Michigan's Zack Novak was ejected Wednesday night for an elbow to the head of an OSU player, and Wisconsin's Joe Krabbenhoft somehow didn't even get called for a foul when he added an obvious (and unnecessary) forearm to what should have been a beautiful screen.
- Matt Roth had his biggest impact of the season, scoring 12 points on 4-7 from behind the arc.
- Verdell Jones is progressing. He scored 14 points on 7 attempts, but gave back some of that efficiency by turning the ball over 7 times.
- Malik Story managed 6 points on 0-2 from the field, thanks to a 6-6 performance from the line.
- Tom Pritchard scored only 7 points, but had 10 rebounds, four offensive.
Again, IU fans can take some solace in the ability of this team to compete with 5 of 7 Big Ten foes to this point. Still, with two games against MSU, road trips to Purdue, Minnesota, and Penn State, a home game against Illinois, and two games against Wisconsin, the opportunities for wins are dwindling. Just one, to avoid heading into the offseason with a 21 game losing streak, would be nice, although this team's reward isn't going to come in 2008-09. We are going to have one seasoned group of sophomores next year, at least.
Be sure to check out postgame discussion here
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