The Journal Gazette
Wednesday, January 26, 2022 1:00 am

IU working to limit emotional swings

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Indiana was riding a high coming off its win over then-No. 4 Purdue on Thursday and the court-storming that followed the victory. An 80-62 loss to Michigan on Sunday sent the Hoosiers crashing back to earth.

Indiana forward Race Thompson admitted his team “laid an egg” against the Wolverines and emphasized much of the Hoosiers' internal discussion in recent days has been about the need to maintain the same mindset throughout the long grind of a Big Ten season.

“We got a little bit too high, feeling ourselves a little bit too much,” Thompson said. “(Sunday's loss) was a little reality check for us, so when it comes around next time when we're feeling good about ourselves, we just have to understand that next team is coming to win the game. There's no handouts.”

The next team for the Hoosiers (14-5, 5-4 Big Ten) is Penn State, which comes to Assembly Hall tonight for the final leg of Indiana's three-game homestand. The Nittany Lions (8-8, 3-5 Big Ten) have lost three of their last four, but beat the Hoosiers 61-58 in University Park, Pennsylvania, on Jan. 2.

Finding a way to avenge that loss to one of the teams from the bottom half of the conference is crucial for the Hoosiers as they try to right the wrongs of recent years.

“It's what we've been talking about the whole season, we're trying to break a door down,” Thompson said. “We made a dent in that door in the Purdue game, but ... it's just really about not getting too low about that loss (to Michigan). We didn't show up ready to play and we really need to find a way to break through that door and string a couple (wins) together. ... We can't drop two in a row.”

A common problem for the Hoosiers in their first game against the Nittany Lions and Sunday against the Wolverines was 3-point defense. Indiana is holding opponents to just 31.1% shooting from beyond the arc, but Penn State had one of its best shooting performances of the season when it played Indiana, going 11 for 22 from deep. Michigan hit 11 of 17.

“(Michigan) honestly played harder than us, and we didn't defend the line well at all, and that's something that we usually hang our hats on,” Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said. “It's something that we're going to have to watch on film and obviously get better at it for Penn State.”

Penn State and Michigan each dissected Indiana's defense with ball screens at the top of the key. The Hoosiers did not do a good enough job communicating when those screens occurred and often a shooter was left wide open. Indiana has spent much its practice time since the loss to the Wolverines working to fix that issue.

“As bigs we have to do a better job of impacting the ball when it's coming off (a screen) and guards have to get into the ball and refuse to get screened,” Thompson said. “That's one of our weaknesses on defense ...but maybe we can make that weakness a strength.”


vs. Penn State

When: 8:30 p.m. today

Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington

Records: Indiana (14-5, 5-4 Big Ten), Penn State (8-8, 3-5 Big Ten)

TV: Big Ten Network

Radio: 92.3 FM

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