In a matchup between the Big Ten’s top defense and offense, offense prevailed as Indiana men’s basketball failed to pick up its first road win this season in an 83-74 defeat to Iowa on Thursday night in Iowa City, Iowa. Indiana moved to 12-4 this season and is an even 3-3 in conference play.
Indiana entered leading the Big Ten in scoring defense by allowing just 60.8 points per game, but all chances of a defensive battle were thrown out the window after the opening few possessions against an Iowa offense that averages a Big Ten-leading 86.7 points per game. Indiana opted to cater toward Iowa’s playstyle and succeeded early in the track meet, but couldn’t maintain the same pace for 40 minutes despite shooting 51% from the field.
“They out-hustled us,” junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said in the postgame press conference. “A big factor was their press and we settled sometimes (on offensive possessions). We should’ve broken (Iowa’s press). We weren’t playing our game, and they sped us up a lot.”
What remained a back-and-forth affair until the six-minute mark in the first half was broken by an 11-0 run in a four-minute span, propelling the Hoosiers into a 48-41 halftime lead. The Hoosiers’ 48 first-half points were the most they’ve recorded in any first half this season. But from there, any ideas on offense were shut down.
In its previous three games in Big Ten play, including wins over then-No. 13 Ohio State and Minnesota, Indiana averaged just seven turnovers, a major improvement from the 16.4 average the team posted over its opening 12 games.
The fast-paced nature of the game forced Indiana’s hand, and it committed nine turnovers by halftime. Indiana ended the night with 23 total compared to Iowa’s 12, and 41% of Iowa’s points came as a result of Indiana’s turnovers. The team wasted opportunities down the stretch at the free-throw line as well, shooting 5-11 in the second half.
“When you’re throwing the ball away, not rebounding and not making your free throws, that’s a bad combination when you’re trying to win on the road,” head coach Mike Woodson said. “We struck out on all three. As good as we were in the first half, we were awful in the second.”
Woodson said a big part of Indiana’s game plan going into Thursday’s game was keeping Iowa sophomore forward Keegan Murray, who leads the Big Ten with 24.7 points per game, from getting comfortable. Murray was held to just 12 points, but that wasn’t the last Indiana saw of his surname.
Murray’s twin brother, sophomore forward Kris Murray, replaced his brother’s scoring output with career-high 29 points on 12-18 shooting to lead all scorers off the bench. He paired it with another career-high mark in rebounds with 11.
17 of Murray’s points came in the first half to keep Iowa within striking distance, but 5 of his 12 second-half points came during a momentum-shifting 15-9 run in the closing six minutes to deliver the final blow against Indiana.
“When you’re on the road in a hostile environment, you’ve got to make the crowd shush up and match their energy,” Jackson-Davis said. “We never matched (Iowa’s energy), and they just kept going and going.”
The Hoosiers lost the battle of the bench units by a 46-17 margin, primarily due to Murray’s star performance. Woodson expressed his concern with his second unit’s inconsistencies after the game.
“Our bench has gotta play a role,” Woodson said. “I’ll play them until their tongues fall out. Our bench is just as important as the guys that start the game. They didn’t fare well.”
Sophomore guard Trey Galloway’s season-high 10 points were the lone bright spot in relief of the starters. Galloway was one of four Hoosiers to score in double digits, and he scored the Hoosiers' only 3 bench points in the second half.
Jackson-Davis and senior forward Race Thompson were efficient in the paint, posting 18 and 13 points, respectively, for a combined 12-18 mark from the floor. Jackson-Davis posted his seventh double-double of the season and second straight with 11 rebounds while also blocking five shots.
“We can’t break up,” Jackson-Davis said. “We’re gonna break this (winless start on the road), we just have to stay together.”
Indiana will have another chance to find success on the road when it takes on Nebraska at 6 p.m. Monday in Lincoln, Nebraska. Indiana came out on top with a 68-55 victory when the two teams met Dec. 4, 2021, for Indiana’s Big Ten opener.