Indiana's offense has played like a well-oiled machine this season, ranking fifth in the country in scoring at more than 90 points per game.
Key to that offensive onslaught has been an ability to create turnovers on defense and avoid them on offense.
Through five games, the Hoosiers are plus-20 in turnover margin and have accomplished coach Archie Miller's goal of fewer than 12 turnovers in each game four times in five contests.
“Nothing's more important for this team than not turning the ball over, especially the live-ball turnovers,” Miller said. “(We can't have) the turnovers that are after-thought plays where 'I really didn't know what to do with it, so I just gave to it this guy,' rather than having real purpose to what we're doing.”
Tonight at Assembly Hall, Indiana will take on a team that will try to flip the script on the Hoosiers. Louisiana Tech, a member of Conference USA, has put together a 4-1 record with suffocating defense, giving up just 57.4 points per game and forcing nearly 19 turnovers per contest.
In their most recent matchup, the Bulldogs gave the ball away just five times, while forcing 17 turnovers in an 82-61 win over North Alabama. For comparison, the Hoosiers (5-0) committed 13 turnovers in their matchup against North Alabama.
“Winning the turnover margin is a huge part of what we want to do,” Louisiana Tech coach Eric Konkol said after his team's win over the Lions. “Taking care of the basketball is better for our defense and if we can turn somebody over, it is great for our offense in getting more shots like we did tonight.”
The Bulldogs have used their ability to create turnovers to build the 19th-ranked scoring defense in the country. It hasn't all been about takeaways, however. Even when opposing teams do manage to get a shot off, Louisiana Tech is holding them to 34.9% shooting, the 17th best rate in the country.
That lockdown defense has helped the Bulldogs put together easily the best résumé of any team Indiana has faced so far, with four easy victories over smaller schools and their only loss coming by 10 to a Creighton team that won 20 games last season.
After being pressed in the first half against Princeton and leading by only four at halftime, Indiana will have to be much sharper to start tonight's game. It would help if the Hoosiers forced some turnovers of their own, which has been a significant source of offense for Indiana this season.
Indiana has gotten a large handful of easy baskets by harassing passing lanes and getting steals that lead to run-outs. That will be more difficult against a strong offensive team like Louisiana Tech, but it will be a good test for the Hoosiers defense with much better opponents on the horizon.
The Hoosiers have been helped on both ends with the return of projected starting guards Robert Phinisee and Devonte Green, both of whom battled injuries early in the season. They played their first game together this season against Princeton and combined for six assists against only three turnovers.
“I think we're just being smarter this year with the ball,” Green said. “And I think we just are making more shots. So it's not that many turnovers to go around anymore.”
Indiana was without big man De'Ron Davis against Princeton as he battled a sore back. He is questionable to return against Louisiana Tech.
See a video
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vs. Louisiana Tech
Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington
When: 8:30 p.m. today
Records: Indiana (5-0), Louisiana Tech (4-1)
TV: Big Ten Network
Radio: 1250 AM