Brian Spurlock / USA TODAY

Hoosiers pounding Big Ten opponents at home

Saturday is the first time since the 1987-88 season Indiana has won three straight conference games by at least 25 points. Read on to find out what's been behind that confident Big Ten play at home.

As the win streak grows, so does Indiana's confidence, especially at home. 

The Hoosiers' 89-57 win over Northwestern Saturday marked the third straight home game Indiana defeated its Big Ten opponent by 25 or more points. That hasn't happened since the 1987-88 season, when they beat Minnesota by 29, Northwestern by 29, and Michigan State by 37. 

"I feel like on the court we have a lot of confidence," Indiana senior guard Yogi Ferrell said. 

The current string of blowouts began with an 85-60 win over Ohio State on Jan. 10. Nine days later, Indiana handed Illinois a 34-point loss. Saturday, the margin of victory was 32 against Northwestern. 

Against Ohio State, the Hoosiers led by 30 at halftime and as many as 36. Illinois trailed by 17 at halftime and as many as 38. Northwestern faced the same halftime deficit as Illinois, but trailed by as many as 32 points. 

A prominent factor in those major leads and large margins of victory have been the 3-point shooting. In each of those home wins, Indiana shot an average of 45.7 percent from beyond the arc. They've also had 67 assists on 98 made baskets. 

Grad transfer forward Max Bielfeldt attributed that ball movement, as well as making the simple play, to the Hoosiers' recent success.

"We're finding shooters," Bielfeldt said. "With that movement, gusy are getting open a little better and we're just knocking them down." 

The movement comes from taking good care of the ball and valuing each possession. The baseline for Indiana's single-game season-low for turnovers is nine, a feat which it has accomplished twice - once against Duke and once against Kennesaw State.

In the three blowout Big Ten home wins, the Hoosiers have averaged just 11 a game. 

However, the Hoosiers' efforts on the defensive side of the ball and forcing opponents' mistakes shouldn't be overlooked either. 

Between the three home games collectively, Indiana has forced its opponents to commit a total of 41 turnovers per game. In each of the home conference wins, Indiana has committed fewer turnovers than its opponent. 

"For us to play loose out there, it's us getting down and getting stops," Ferrell said. "I think even as a team we probably don't even think this is our best defensive game. Not one of our worst, but we definitely had stretches in there where we know we can get better." 

The simplicity in which Ferrell assessed Indiana's play is the same simplicity which has allowed them to be so succesful in these blowout wins. 

"The more simple we can make our passing and the more active we can be in our cutting, the better we are," Crean said. "We're moving the ball, there is no question about that... But really the last week we've been really good about being on time, on target, and that's so crucial." 


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