There have been highly competitive games so far in the 2021-22 season from the Big Ten conference. The intensity of this season lately has been filled with tough close games, passionate emotion and big upsets with teams battling for a spot in college basketball’s AP Top 25.
Indiana men’s basketball went to Iowa City looking to make a statement, and it had an impressive start against the Hawkeyes. The offense was locked in, getting easy shots around the basket and creating space for each other to get high quality shots.
The big-man duo of junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and senior forward Race Thompson handled business, making excellent decisions to get high quality shots, with shooting 50% from the field. Jackson-Davis and Thompson combined for 31 points in the game, while Indiana’s backcourt struggled to create game-changing plays.
The defensive presence of Indiana was strong early, shutting down the top-leading scorer in the Big Ten conference, Iowa’s sophomore forward Keegan Murray. Indiana held Murray to six points in the first half, forcing Iowa to find other options while Murray was struggling with costly foul trouble.
Watching Indiana play aggressively on the defensive end makes them fun to watch when playing a well-crafted team like Iowa. It is always great to see the intensity of both teams, leading to the five ties and four lead changes in the first half alone.
The disaster began in the second half, once Indiana started to crumble against Iowa’s dominating zone defense and a breakout performance from Iowa sophomore forward Kris Murray. One half of the Murray twins ended with career-highs in both points and rebounds, scoring 29 points and 11 rebounds, as well as three blocks and steals each.
Murray took on the challenge to carry the load for Iowa, doing everything he could to help his brother and teammates produce the way he did. He found his rhythm and proved he could produce when his brother could not after failing to reach 20 points for the first time in six games.
Indiana simply lost the game with guards making the wrong decisions, leading to 23 turnovers. That cannot happen if you expect to be one of the best teams in college basketball. 40.9% of Iowa’s points came off Indiana’s turnovers, which is exhausting when Indiana throws away close games such as this one.
Everything matters when you're in close game situations, especially when the opposing team can come back and go on a run. Indiana let Iowa off easy, letting up on the defensive pressure and focus, unable to finish what they started in the first half.
Indiana is still having a hard time getting it done on the road, and it is starting to become a problem considering they're halfway through the season without a win on the road. It feels as if they are never ready to play and end up losing the intensity coming back from halftime.
Iowa out-hustled Indiana, being the team that wanted to win more. That mindset is very important in order to be successful in close-game situations. No matter what, it is all about heart. Indiana must remain dialed in for the whole 40 minutes to be a dominant team come tournament time.