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Hoosiers prepare for Gophers after loss


Sophomore guard Verdell Jones (left) and freshman forward Bobby Capobianco challenge for a rebound during the first half of IU's contest against Michigan Jan. 14 in Ann Arbor, Mich. Peter Stevenson Buy Photos

On Thursday, it was the Wolverines who deserved the song, handily beating the Hoosiers 69-45 and avenging a 71-65 loss on Dec. 31.

The Hoosiers (7-9) will get another chance to earn some respect on Sunday when they take on Minnesota (12-5). After Thursday’s loss, a Sunday home game would seem like a break for the Hoosiers.

But a game against the second-highest scoring team in the Big Ten will just be
another challenge.

Thursday’s 45 points were IU’s fewest this season, as was its 3-point field goal percentage of 6.7 percent. The Hoosiers finished with a 36.5 field goal percentage.

“That just shows what defense can do,” Michigan coach John Beilein said.

His team’s 89.5 free-throw percentage also separated the Wolverines from the Hoosiers, who shot only 50 percent from the charity stripe. The free-throw differences gave Michigan a six-point lead after the first half.

Because Michigan is only ninth in scoring in the Big Ten, IU’s mistakes didn’t seem major until the last few minutes of the second half. As IU continued to turn the ball over, the Wolverines continued to capitalize on their mistakes. 

“A 10-point lead can turn into a 20-point lead very quickly,” Beilein said.

Sunday’s home environment could be a boon to the Hoosiers, who have only lost four times in Assembly Hall this season. But the differences between IU’s two opponents could show on Sunday. 

It wasn’t a blowout, but the game highlighted some problems IU has had this season, especially how it’s coping without injured guards Matt Roth and Maurice Creek. IU’s 19 turnovers led to 21 points for the Wolverines, and sophomore guard Verdell Jones shot 3-of-14, including 0-of-5 3-pointers. Only freshman forward Christian Watford was in double digits, with 16 points.

The Gophers will also be looking for a win after Wednesday’s 60-53 loss to No. 7 Michigan State. 

While IU had 32 points in the paint against Michigan, they might not be able to rely on layups Sunday. Minnesota leads the Big Ten in 6.35 blocks a game. They also love to pass, averaging 17.59 assists per game, second-highest in the conference. 

And since IU has struggled with turnovers almost every game this season – they had 19 on Thursday – Minnesota’s 10.76 steals average will also hurt the Hoosiers. 

“We don’t understand the level of force that you have to play with,” Crean said.

With only three possible days of practice before Minnesota, the Hoosiers will have to quickly figure out how to gain some respect and compete against one of the best teams in the conference.

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