Just one week ago, the IU men’s basketball team rejuvenated its season with an upset win at Michigan State, but a midweek home loss to No. 20 Iowa brought the Hoosiers back down to Earth.
IU has now lost eight of its last nine games and has a 2-8 record in 2019. With eight games left in the regular season, IU – 13-10 overall and 4-8 in conference games – can’t afford to pass up many more opportunities to bolster its NCAA Tournament profile.
Next for IU is a 1 p.m. game Sunday against Ohio State, a team that has also struggled in conference play.
Here are three things to know before the game.
1. Ohio State had its own Big Ten losing streak before turning things around.
Just like IU, Ohio State had a forgettable January.
After starting Big Ten play with two wins in early December, Ohio State lost five straight conference games to start the new year. Like the Hoosiers, the Buckeyes slipped up at home and on the road, including double-digit home losses to Maryland and Purdue.
But Ohio State has won three of its last four games since the Purdue game Jan. 23., although two of those wins were at home against Rutgers and Penn State.
2. Balanced scoring paves the way for the Buckeyes.
A trio of Buckeyes average double-digit points per game, with sophomore forward Kaleb Wesson averaging 14.9 points, senior guard C.J. Jackson averaging 13 points and freshman guard Luther Muhammad averaging 10.2 points.
The scoring outputs for each player fluctuate wildly, though. Wesson had 12 games in which he has scored 15 or more points, but also six games scoring single-digit points, including just two in Ohio State’s January loss at Iowa.
Jackson has recently had more consistency with his scoring habits, scoring 10 or more points in 12 of his last 13 games. Meanwhile, Muhammad represents the proverbial X-factor for Ohio State.
His rebounding numbers have increased over the course of the season, while his scoring has varied from 20-plus point showings in recent wins against Nebraska and Penn State to just three points scored in a blowout loss at Michigan.
The performance of these three Buckeyes, both in unison and individually, will help determine the outcome of Sunday’s game.
3. IU will be wearing “Harlem Renaissance Collection” uniforms for the game.
Just as the IU women’s team did for its home game last Wednesday against Minnesota, the men’s team will be sporting new uniforms for Sunday’s game.
IU is one of the Adidas schools wearing special "Harlem Renaissance Collection" uniforms to celebrate Black History Month. The uniforms feature new details such as the word “Ballroom” on the inner waistband of the shorts and a “CBC” patch near the shoulder featuring the phrase “Celebrating Black Culture.”
IU will also have a silhouette logo of former player Bill Garrett, who broke the Big Ten color barrier in 1948, on the shooting shirts worn during pregame warmups.
IU and Ohio State are scheduled to play 1 p.m. Sunday at Assembly Hall, with the game broadcast nationally on CBS.
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