Indiana Lacks Balance in Loss

The Hoosiers need more consistent efforts from their role players if they want to win on the road. Despite an excellent performance by Marshall Strickland and Jeff Newton, few other Hoosiers brought their "A" game to Madison. Wisconsin, on the other hand, played effectively as a team, with each player making a contribution to the win.

Indiana went into halftime with a 29-21 lead. The Hoosiers played tough defense, extending out on Wisconsin's outside shooters. They hustled for loosed balls, rebounded well and contested almost every Wisconsin shot attempt. They looked like the team of old; the same team which started the season 8-0 and had national championship aspirations.

Then the second half began, and the glimpse of Indiana returning to form ended. The Badgers came out on fire, scoring the first 11 points of the half. The Hoosiers played aggressively to start the half, but Wisconsin responded by hitting tough shots and increasing its defensive intensity. The Badgers surprised the Hoosiers by making tough shots against Indiana's pressure. After the 11-0 run, Indiana never matched the defensive intensity it had in the first half.

Still, Indiana kept the game close behind the superb play of Marshall Strickland. Strickland responded to his first start on the road this season by delivering 17 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists. He penetrated inside, repeatedly breaking down Wisconsin's defense, leading to easy scores for Jeff Newton and A.J. Moye. He also shot well from outside and played tough defense all game.

Wisconsin chose to guard Indiana's perimeter shooters tightly rather than doubling down on Newton inside. Again, the strategy paid off as Indiana struggled from outside, shooting 4-for-15 from behind the arc. Newton played well, but he also missed several shots from close range and never took control in the paint. He shot 8-for-18 (44%), but made several of those shots from the perimeter. Newton has to shoot better inside if Indiana can ever break out of its slump. Shooting better will be tough for Newton because he does not have much help inside. A.J. Moye played well today, but he will be a liability on defense when the Hoosiers play bigger frontcourts.

The rest of the team struggled all game. Davis stuck with his starting five for most of the game. Indiana's starting five played 180 of a possible 200 minutes. Kyle Hornsby played only 11 minutes and George Leach did not play all game. Tom Coverdale could not find his stroke, shooting 2-for-8 from the floor for 5 points. Bracey Wright was not much better, adding 6 points on 3-for-10 shooting.

Indiana can win with only a few players playing well offensively if the whole team plays well defensively. The Hoosiers jumped to a 29-21 lead at halftime because they played intense defense. They then allowed Wisconsin to score 50 points in the second half. Indiana should never allow Wisconsin, with its slow, deliberate playing style, to score 50 points in a half.

Wisconsin scored 50 second half points by consistently beating Indiana off the dribble. Throughout the game, Wisconsin's Devin Harris and Freddie Owens penetrated inside and then pulled up for short jumpers while Kirk Penney operated on the perimeter for the Badgers. Indiana missed the offense created by its defense that it utilized in the first half.

While Strickland and Newton carried most of the load for Indiana, Wisconsin received contributions from each of its starters. Alando Tucker was the only Badger who did not score in double figures, and he still played well scoring 9 points with 8 rebounds and 3 assists. The Badger offense was more difficult to defend than Indiana's because each of their players was an offensive threat.

At 5-6 in the Big Ten, Indiana is running out of time to find a solution for its problems. Inserting Strickland and Moye into the starting lineup seemed to help, but Davis will need his seniors to step up if he wants to resemble the team which started the season. Without an established post presence, Indiana might not regain the chemistry it had to start the season.

Next game: Wednesday, February 19th Opponent: Iowa (12-8, 4-5) Location: Carver Hawkeye Arena

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