For the second game in a row, Northwestern played well enough to challenge a ranked conference foe. Except, Sunday against Indiana did not work out as well as Northwestern’s upset win over Illinois on Thursday. Northwestern fell to the Hoosiers by a score of 67-59.
After Indiana dominated the first half, Northwestern made a nice run in the second half, to make this a close game.
The Hoosiers had full control, and it appeared they would simply roll over the inferior Wildcats, until Northwestern picked up the defensive pressure in the second half. They went to a 1-3-1 press- very similar to what John Beilein loves to use- to disrupt the Indiana offense. Indiana went on an eight minute drought between field goals, midway through the second half, opening the door for Northwestern to get back in the game. They repeatedly cut the double digit lead down to five or six, but could never erase it entirely.
For Indiana, this was another example of the the Hoosiers allowing the opposition to dictate how the game would be played. When they were upset at home to Wisconsin earlier in the week, the Hoosiers let Wisconsin control the pace. Wisconsin pressured Indiana defensively, and the Hoosiers had no answer. When it could not run their sets or get easy buckets, Indiana’s offense came to a halt. That is what happened in Evanston, allowing Northwestern to within five points of Indiana, in what should have been a blowout.
Indiana’s stars did play well, especially Cody Zeller, who scored 21 points and collected 13 rebounds. Victor Oladipo hit a big three late in the game, but was generally quiet in this contest. He did have his face bandaged up, after receiving a blow above his eye, but should be just fine moving forward.
From Northwestern’s perspective, this was not a horrible loss. They stuck with the second ranked team in the country, after getting blasted in the first half. It was clear they were at a huge talent disadvantage, but for the second game in a row, put themselves in position to win. Every loss is obviously tough, because wins are so hard to come by in the Big Ten, but the fact this was so close has to make it a little bit better for Bill Carmody’s crew.
A fun fact about this result is that this was the first Northwestern final score of Big Ten play that was within single digits. They have either been blown out, or blown out their opponents in all six of their games.