After winning two consecutive conference games, IU looks to continue that momentum at home against Northwestern Sunday at 4:30 p.m. It will be IU’s third-straight game without sophomore forward De’Ron Davis, who suffered a torn Achilles tendon and is out for the season.
Here are five things to know about the Wildcats:
Senior point guard Bryant McIntosh’s passing
The Indiana-native has the 22nd-best assist rate in the country and is the conductor of Northwestern’s offense, which is ranked 60th in the country in terms of efficiency per Kenpom.com. His passing makes this offense work.
“They run a ton of stuff to get guys good looks, and everything kind of goes through Bryant McIntosh, who with 16 assists, zero turnovers in his last game is pretty impressive," IU Coach Archie Miller said. "We have our work cut out for us.”
Northwestern has a lot of experience
After making the NCAA Tournament for the first time ever last season, the Wildcats brought back nearly everyone from that team. While they have been inconsistent this season, Northwestern is led by an experienced core.
Along with McIntosh, all four of Northwestern’s main lineup are upperclassman with three out of five being seniors. Senior guard Scottie Lindsey is McIntosh’s backcourt partner and he is shooting 46.4-percent on two-point shots. Northwestern’s main frontcourt is led by senior Gavin Skelly and juniors Vic Law and Derek Pardon.
Law can shoot it well from outside and currently has a three-point percentage of 42.5-percent.
Pardon and Skelly are solid defenders
Northwestern’s defense hasn’t been top-50 level defense, but its interior defense has been its strongest point this season. The Wildcats’ block percentage of 14.1-percent is 30th in the country, per Kenpom. Pardon has a block percentage of 7.1-percent and Skelly also has a solid block percentage. He also is good at getting steals.
Northwestern doesn’t give up many offensive rebounds
Without Davis, IU have had great success rebounding the ball offensively. In a victory over Minnesota, the Hoosiers had 17 offensive rebounds, with junior forward Juwan Morgan nabbing five of them. Against Penn State Tuesday, IU had 12 offensive rebounds in the victory.
“We rebounded really well in the last couple games, and from an offensive rebounding perspective, that's given us as much of an added punch as anything,” Miller said. “Guys just continuing to work with great motor, different guys contributing on the glass, and one of the big reasons why we beat Penn State was the second opportunities we had, the amount of second-chance baskets. I thought it was good against Minnesota.”
With IU struggling to shoot from three-point range this season, the Hoosiers have relied heavily on second-chance opportunities. However, Northwestern does not allow its opponents to get many offensive rebounds. According to Kenpom, Northwestern’s only allows opponents to get offensive rebounds at a rate of 25.2, good for 46th in the nation.
Northwestern has struggled away from home
Four of Northwestern’s seven losses have come away from home for the Wildcats with their only road victory this season coming over DePaul by two on Dec. 16. The Wildcats have not won a Big Ten road game yet this season as they lost at Purdue and Penn State.