February 25, 2009

Northwestern shoots down Indiana, 75-53

It was the same story, different game for Indiana. After starting out scorching hot from the field, the Hoosier offense went cold for the remainder of the game. And despite cutting the second half lead to two points, the quickness and sharpshooting of Northwestern's guards put the contest out of reach for IU, 75-53. It was the first win ever for the Wildcats in Assembly Hall.

Indiana came out firing on all cylinders in the opening frame. In just four minutes of work, the Hoosiers boasted a 13-7 lead on 6-of-8 shooting. Northwestern center Kyle Rowley picked up two quick fouls and IU guard Brett Finklemeier helped hold NU's Kevin Coble to just two first half points.

But Northwestern put up a 1-3-1 defense after the first media timeout that stifled the Hoosiers for the remainder of the half. IU finished out the half on 5-of-20 shooting, turning the ball over eight times while garnering just two assists. Despite the low offensive output late in the first half, Indiana trailed just 30-25 at halftime.

In the second half, the offense of IU, again, was lights out. They began the second frame a perfect 4-of-4, but failed to gain a point. At the 14:25 mark of the second half, guard Daniel Moore cut the Wildcat lead to two with a lay-up, 41-39. From there, however, it was all Northwestern.

Sparked by guards Craig Moore and Michael Thompson, the Wildcats outscored the Hoosiers by 20 points for the remainder of the way. Moore finished the game with 17 points, including 5-of-7 from the three-point line. Thompson added 16 points and five assists.

"I will never accept it, but this was bound to happen with this team," Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. "We have been hearing it since June, July, August…We have nothing to hang our hat on tonight, that's just part of it."

The Hoosiers failed to conquer the 1-3-1 zone that the Wildcats threw at them. Much of the shot clock was spent tossing passes near center court and the offense seemed to stall for the remainder of the half.

Indiana was sparked by Kyle Taber, who scored six points before getting into foul trouble. Still, the senior finished with a career-high 12 points, the second consecutive game he has accomplished that feat in as many games. Nick Williams was the only other Hoosier to reach double figures, scoring 11.

With the loss, it drops the Hoosiers to 6-21 overall and 1-14 in the conference. Part of the problem, according to Crean, is that the team seems to be suffering from mental fatigue as the season goes on.

"I think the stream is running dry," Crean said. "We need to focus on getting better every step of the way…I think the team understands the record, but they will never come in and play that way and we will never come and coach that way."

The IU head coach did switch the roster up a bit. The Hoosiers added manager Mike Santa to the active roster, a 5-9 guard from Huntington. The Indiana native saw a minute of action late in the second half.

"Mike brings a lot to the table," Crean said. "That is what makes Indiana special. The guys come out and work. I have said before we need to make practices more competitive. This was not a reward. I want this to be what we're about. Those managers are great kids."

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