The month of January doomed IU men’s basketball’s season last year. The Hoosiers survived the first month of 2020 this time around, but February has started to look similar to the last season's downfall.
IU is on a four-game losing streak and is now missing from some NCAA Tournament projections. But Thursday night offers an opportunity to pick up a marquee win as No. 21 Iowa comes to Bloomington.
The Hoosiers have won three of the last five matchups with the Hawkeyes, but IU head coach Archie Miller said he understands the difficulties his team is facing right now with the end of the regular season looming.
“At some point, you have to draw the line,” Miller said. “If you don’t want to be a part of winning, you have to not be a part of what we are doing.”
One problem IU has seen in the losing streak is the lack of scoring from almost everyone outside of freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis. Miller used to praise his team’s ability to have multiple players in double digits, but recently it’s been difficult to find someone who can consistently provide a scoring presence.
Senior guard Devonte Green has been an offensive spark in multiple games, but he’s scored four or fewer points in six of the last 10 games. Over the 10 games, he shot 32.5% from the field.
“We need some guys out there that really want it,” Miller said. “That will help our team respond when we see some guys really giving max effort, doing some things we’ve seen our team do a few times this season.”
As IU finds itself in the midst of a downfall, Iowa has become one of the best teams in the conference. The Hawkeyes come into the game with an 8-5 Big Ten record and a chance at a conference regular season title.
The emergence of junior center Luka Garza as a Big Ten Player of the Year candidate has played a major part in Iowa's success. He's averaging 23.1 points and 9.9 rebounds this season. Miller said on his radio show Monday he believes Garza should be the national player of the year.
But just like most Big Ten teams this season, Iowa has struggled on the road. The Hawkeyes have only won a single conference game away from Iowa City, Iowa, which was against Northwestern on Jan. 14. Iowa has lost four Big Ten road games by a combined 67 points. That number inflated due to the historic offensive performance Purdue put up in Mackey Arena during its last road game when Iowa lost by a score of 104-68.
It's been difficult for most Big Ten teams to win on the road this season, but IU lost back-to-back games in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. With the four-game losing streak, the Hoosiers are now just focusing on trying to get themselves back together.
“You just have to play hard, play together, just get everyone on the right page,” sophomore guard Rob Phinisee said.
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