This season, the Hoosiers have been even better at home, winning 12 of their 13 games. They’ve won all three of their games against ranked opponents this season, including a 19-point thumping of then-No. 13 Maryland last week. They’re outscoring opponents by an average of 17 points per game this season.
Assembly Hall is consistently ranked as one of the country’s most difficult places to play. It’s often the crowd — 17,472 strong — that rattles opponents.
“The fans of Indiana are always great. Even when we were losing last year they were always great,” junior guard Yogi Ferrell said. “They were always loud for us.”
IU is remarkably tough to beat at home. And that might be its biggest flaw.
The Hoosiers are a different team away from Assembly Hall, winning just three of eight games outside of Bloomington this season. They’re being outscored by an average of almost seven points in those contests.
Part of that comes from being a young team — IU’s roster features no seniors and just three healthy juniors — but the Hoosiers’ style of play might be the biggest reason for their struggles.
IU relies heavily on the 3-point shot to win games. Shooting its way to wins is almost IU’s only option, especially after starting center Hanner Mosquera-Perea was knocked out of the lineup with a knee injury.
When long-distance shots are falling, IU’s been deadly efficient offensively, like when it made 15 3-pointers to beat Maryland. When the Hoosiers can’t get 3-pointers to fall, though, that’s when trouble starts.
Where IU’s taking those shots has a direct effect on how often they go in. The Hoosiers make just more than two more 3-pointers per game at home than on the road. That’s an automatic six additional points IU picks up in Assembly Hall.
Luckily for IU, six of its final 10 regular-season games are at home. The first of those comes Saturday against Rutgers, which is by most measures the Big Ten’s worst team. The Scarlet Knights rank last in the conference in scoring, field goal percentage, 3-point field goal percentage and scoring margin and are a bottom-half team in every other statistical category.
In its first Big Ten season, Rutgers is 2-6, including a win against Wisconsin that looks more like a fluke with each Scarlet Knight loss. It’s the perfect situation — the conference’s worst team and a return to Assembly Hall — for IU to recover from back-to-back losses on the road.
In those two losses, IU averaged just 68.5 points per game. IU Coach Tom Crean said he’ll look to simplify the offense going forward.
“We don’t need to be complicated,” he said. “We don’t have guys that are good enough to play a complicated game ... We just didn’t simplify the game enough.”