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Iowa 77, Indiana 72: Another tough loss offers some encouragement but raises more questions

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At 4-8 in the Big Ten, Indiana’s postseason hopes are on very thin ice after another loss in Assembly Hall.

NCAA Basketball: Iowa at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
  1. This wasn’t all terrible. In fact, there were some positive takeaways from last night’s 77-72 loss in Bloomington. Let’s start there. Indiana looked really good under the glass and made some impressive shots and dunks, albeit against an Iowa defense that hasn’t been fantastic this season. Romeo Langford wasn’t afraid to shoot the 3. The team was contributing with rebounds across the board. De’Ron Davis continued his strong play from the MSU game and had 7 assists. The free throws, save a really bad Romeo airball, were mostly falling in. The Hoosiers averaged 1.09 PPP. That’s all not bad!
  2. The problem is, it still wasn’t enough at home with a raucous crowd backing them on a Thursday night. Iowa most likely won’t win the B1G, but they’re a talented, veteran team with a core of juniors that has an identity. Iowa wants to shoot the ball from deep or beat you inside. They did both at key times last night, and Indiana didn’t have an answer.
  3. While IU’s offense got going at times, a long stretch in the first half found them unable to get any good shots off against Iowa’s 2-3 zone. Ahh yes, that old defense! Syracuse 2013 got brought up, because time is a flat circle and we are doomed to repeat our mistakes of the past forever and ever. But yeah, IU sucked against a 2-3 zone. Lather,rinse, repeat.
  4. IU’s defense is still a work in progress, and that’s concerning as well. Part of the appeal of Archie Miller was that he would have Indiana playing the type of tenacious pack-line defense that has succeeded at other programs. At times, it works! But it’s hellishly inconsistent, and for the 8th game out of 9, IU allowed a team to average over 1 point per possession.
  5. You can say that Indiana was two clutch late threes from Jordan Bohannon away from making this a totally different game, but the Hawkeyes never let IU get closer to three points in the second half. In fact, Iowa defined this game on both sides of the ball, forcing IU into bad shots by making them at a faster clip than normal, and limiting Juwan Morgan’s impact by getting him into foul trouble early the second half.
  6. This felt almost like an IU football game, which of course isn’t a compliment. You can call this a moral victory. But what good is a moral victory with eight games to play in the season when you’re 13-10 and your two best players are most likely not around next year. A close loss at home to a ranked team is good to build on and all (see: IU football vs. Penn State in mid-October, for example), but time isn’t on Indiana’s side anymore.
  7. This was Indiana’s third straight loss at Assembly Hall. I’ve harped on this before, but this venue was always an advantage and an equalizer for the team. And it hasn’t felt that way for most of the season. It’s strange to see that for any Indiana team.
  8. Sure, Indiana played better than they did against Northwestern or Michigan or Rutgers, but this loss will still count as an L in the stat sheet and in the NET rankings or whatever other metric that Indiana needs to count on in order to hang onto its very tenuous track to get into the field of 68. It’ll likely take a 6-2 finish (or maybe 5-3 with a Big Ten tourney win) for IU to get into the tourney. And right now, that doesn’t feel possible. And that’s a shame — not just for Morgan and Langford, but also for a fanbase that expected more after the Marquette and Louisville victories.