The Hoosiers were almost as bad as the ‘Cats in the first half. The teams combined to shoot 27 percent as Lindsey shot 0-8, including 5 shots from behind the arc. On Lindsey’s performance, Collins said, “He’s a key guy for us, so the last thing in the world I’m going to tell him to do is stop shooting. We just got to make sure he takes the right shots.” Toward the end of the half, Northwestern trimmed their deficit to 18-15 but a pair of 3-pointers from Collin Hartman and Robert Johnson strengthened the Hoosiers’ lead. Indiana led 24-19 heading into the break in a brutal half of basketball. Dererk Pardon’s three blocks was one (and maybe the only) positive for Northwestern.
The second half defined the game, as Northwestern failed to improve their shooting while Indiana put in bucket after bucket. Senior Robert Johnson led all second-half scorers with 11 points, and the Hoosiers shot over twice as well as the Wildcats, posting a 61 percent shooting percentage. The first 10 minutes were abysmal for the ‘Cats, as they surrendered a 25-2 Indiana run where the Northwestern offense was colder than the temperature (with wind chill) in Evanston. Indiana led in points off turnovers, bench points, points in the paint and fast break points. A particularly bad part of Indiana’s run was a highlight dunk from Josh Newkirk.
The Wildcats failed to build off their convincing Minnesota win and instead make that game look like an outlier. Three losses of 15+ points to mediocre Big Ten teams in Nebraska, Penn State and Indiana have erased Northwestern tournament hopes and put into question whether they will qualify for the NIT tournament. They have lacked energy and looked flat out confused for long stretches on the court. Additionally, they only shot nine free throws compared to Indiana’s 22. While the loss of Sanjay Lumpkin is easy to point to, this year’s squad has been more negatively affected by the mediocre play of last year’s leader, Bryant McIntosh. McIntosh shot 2-8 on Sunday, recorded just 2 assists and played just 24 minutes. When McIntosh plays well, the offense has flow and can do serious damage, best exemplified by his 16-assist performance against Minnesota. However, he has not stepped up and made big shots like he did last year, and thus despite similar peripheral stats he has not had the same impact.
“Our defense gave us a chance in the first half, but we could never get any rhythm,” Collins said. “Frustrating game, but we’ve got to go back to the drawing board, get home and get ourselves ready for the next one.
Northwestern will next face Ohio State (15-4, 6-0 B1G) at Allstate Arena on Wednesday.