While the 77-73 loss is a tough pill to swallow for Hoosier fans, they can at least take solace in the fact that they didn't fall to Penn State. The Nittany Lions pulled off a monumental upset of No. 4 Michigan last night, in case you hadn't heard. The same Nittany Lions who until Wednesday night hadn't won a single game in the Big Ten. The same Penn State team that IU beat twice by a combined 46 points.
Suddenly IU's loss to the formerly ranked Golden Gophers doesn't look so bad. And thus is the life on the road in the Big Ten.
The loss still exposed some problems for the Hoosiers, namely their toughness. It was clear from the start of the game that this would be a long night for Indiana. They lacked energy and the will to win.
All the things that have plagued IU in previous losses showed up once again. Indiana was beaten up in the post, and dominated in the paint. The Hoosiers failed to put away a game when they had a solid lead. And they also played a team that was more motivated.
Here's what we took away from the game:
- IU was pitiful rebounding the ball. Minnesota DOMINATED the offensive glass to the tune of 17 rebounds. It seemed like the Hoosiers were allergic to the ball, often times having it well in their grasp only to have it slip out of bounds. IU was simply out worked rebounding the ball and didn't try hard enough to get position in the post. Indiana has been outworked before, but not like this.
- Cody Zeller played like a small child. He was pushed around and beaten up by the much less talented Trevor Mbakwe, who was outstanding for Minnesota. While Mbakwe should have fouled out for his repeated over-the-backs, he was still a force on the low block. Zeller has had issues with more physically aggressive post players and it really brings into question his toughness. Zeller has to find a mean streak or start playing more aggressive if this team wants a deep tournament run (and especially if he wants to go pro).
- The water never found its level. Zeller, Yogi Ferrell, and Christian Watford combined to shoot 7-for-24. That's just 29 percent. For the season, those three collectively have a 48 percent shooting average. Generally over the course of a game, those numbers come more into line with season averages, but that didn't happen Tuesday night. It was simply an off shooting night for a majority of the starters.
The big loss from this game is that the Hoosiers no longer have a buffer in their quest for a Big Ten title. They will need help to win the title out right now. Michigan, by way of the loss to Penn State, is out of the race leaving Michigan State and Wisconsin to fight for a share of the Big Ten title.
Indiana is back in action Saturday night hosting Iowa. It isn't necessarily a must win game, but lets be honest, it really is. It is the easiest game left on the schedule as IU will host No. 16 Ohio State and then finish out the season at No. 4 Michigan. Not an easy end to the regular season.
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