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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, January 29, 2017 10:21 pm

Blackmon-less Hoosiers fall to Wildcats

Chris Goff | The Journal Gazette

EVANSTON, Ill. — Without James Blackmon Jr. in the lineup Sunday night, Indiana's offense devolved into a cesspool of misfires and miscues. Scoring appeared as difficult as it has all season.

The Hoosiers matched a season low with 32 percent shooting in their 68-55 loss at Northwestern, a stinker that included turnovers on seven straight possessions in the first half and 13-for-22 free-throw shooting.

Thomas Bryant produced 23 points and 12 rebounds, one of his best outings as a sophomore, and point guard Josh Newkirk did his part to orchestrate the offense with five points and seven assists. But Indiana otherwise looked shorthanded.

Averaging 18 points per game, Blackmon had powered a successful offense all season until suffering what the team described as a lower leg injury in Thursday's 90-60 loss at Michigan. Blackmon scored just four points that night and Saturday was ruled out indefinitely.

Northwestern (18-4, 7-2 Big Ten) capitalized on his absence and has won six in a row in league play for the first time since the 1930s. The Wildcats shot 41 percent and got 21 points and eight assists from Greensburg native Bryant McIntosh.

Indiana (14-8, 4-5 Big Ten) got out to a 10-1 lead, a successful start that vanished as quickly as it came. The Wildcats went on a 22-5 run and led 35-23 at halftime before seizing a 15-point lead in the early half and eventually going up 18 with 7:28 remaining.