The Indiana men's basketball team plummeted in the national rankings and the court of public opinion after a shocking loss to Fort Wayne two weeks ago. But giving the Hoosiers up for dead would have been a huge mistake.
Indiana rebounded from the ignominy of that loss with four wins in eight days, including a victory over No. 3 ranked North Carolina. Just like that, the all is well in Hoosier Land once again.
The Hoosiers fell ten spots in the Associated Press rankings following the loss to Fort Wayne but now find themselves back at No. 9. Indiana is still the highest-ranked Big Ten Conference team. Indiana won three games in five days last week, including an 83-55 rout of Southeast Missouri State on Sunday, and will take a well-deserved break until it hosts Houston Baptist on Saturday at Assembly Hall.
How have the Hoosiers battled back after the loss to Fort Wayne? Let us count the ways:
Poor defense plagued Indiana each of the past two seasons but has been at the foundation of the Hoosiers' success so far this year. The Hoosiers rank 32nd in the country in defensive efficiency, and they held powerhouses Kansas and North Carolina to under their season averages in points per possession. They also ranked 12th in field goal percentage defense; they were 168th in the country last season.
Few teams attack the offensive boards as well as Indiana, which is fifth in the country in offensive rebounding percentage. It goes without saying that rebounding and sound defense go hand-in-hand.
Robert Johnson's strong start
Junior guard Robert Johnson has been a huge contributor on both ends of the floor for the Hoosiers. Johnson had 17 points, seven rebounds, and two assists in the win over Southeast Missouri.
Morgan has helped fill the vacancy left by injured starter OG Anunoby and has made his last 12 field goal attempts. He had 11 points and three rebounds in 22 minutes against Southeast Missouri and had his first career double-double in last Friday's win over Southern Illinois-Edwardsville.
Anunoby was the best player on the floor against North Carolina before leaving the game with a sprained ankle. The promising sophomore had 16 points and five rebounds against the Tar Heels while providing strong defense against Tar Heel standouts Justin Jackson, Joel Berry II, and Isaiah Hicks. The good news for the Hoosiers is that Anunoby's injury isn't serious and he isn't expected to be out of the lineup for long.
It is also important to note that the Fort Wayne loss came on the road, while every other game has been a home game for Indiana. They have a huge road test coming up when they play the undefeated Butler on December 17th. While the loss to Fort Wayne sent shock waves across the country, it may end up being a mere speed bump for the Hoosiers. That is, at least if their last four games are any indication.