Revamped Hoosiers await Hawkeye basketball

Iowa won’t take upset-minded Indiana lightly after its win over Michigan State.


Lily Smith

Iowa forward Tyler Cook drives to the hoop during the Iowa/Illinois men’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, January 20, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Fighting Illini, 95-71.

Adam Hensley, Pregame Editor

After winning its first three conference games of the season, Indiana sat at 12-2. What followed was a midseason slide — the Hoosiers lost seven games in a row, with their last loss coming on the road at Rutgers.

But on Feb. 2, Indiana took down then-No. 6 Michigan State — a prime example of life in the Big Ten.

RELATED: Luka Garza, road defense key for Iowa

Tonight, Iowa will head to Bloomington to take on a curiosity of an Indiana squad.

The Hoosiers have talent, there’s no doubting that. Freshman phenom Romeo Langford leads Indiana in scoring, netting just more than 17 points per game on 45 percent shooting. The guard also averages 5.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game.

NBA scouts have been drooling over the Hoosier prospect since his high-school days. Sports Illustrated’s latest NBA mock draft had Langford going No. 6 overall to the Orlando Magic.

“He’s [going to be] a top draft pick for a reason,” Iowa’s Joe Wieskamp said. “He’s a very talented player … he’s just very smooth, I think. Sometimes it doesn’t look like he’s trying very hard, but he’s flying past you, rising up for a dunk. Everything about his game is so smooth. You can tell it’s going to translate well in the NBA.”

Langford has appeared in all 22 games for Indiana this season, but the same can’t be said for his teammates. Injuries proved to be a speed bump in what appeared to be an early season freeway, as head coach Archie Miller struggled to find a rotation in the midst of uncertainty. Now, things are starting to piece back together, as evident by the latest upset.

Lily Smith
Iowa forward Joe Wieskamp reacts after making a layup during the Iowa/Michigan men’s basketball game at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Friday, February 1, 2019. The Hawkeyes took down the No. 5 ranked Wolverines, 74-59.

“You have to look at the situation,” Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery said. “It’s kind of like, Why is Luka [Garza] scoring 20 points a game? Well, he’s healthy. Why did Indiana beat Michigan State at Michigan State? Well, they’re healthy … they’re all back. Go on the road and beat Michigan State. That’s who we’re playing.”

Recently, against Michigan State, forward Juwan Morgan went down with a shoulder injury. Following his exit against the Spartans, Morgan didn’t return to the court. But he’s looking good to go for the Hawkeyes in Bloomington tonight.

The senior enters the game averaging 15.9 points, 8 rebounds, and 2.2 assists per game while shooting career-best marks from the field (58.9 percent) and from 3-point range (37.7).

Iowa forward Tyler Cook played against Morgan in high school, and he said he’s eager for yet another matchup with Indiana’s star forward.

“Juwan and I have been kind of talking back and forth for a while about it. He’s a good friend of mine,” Cook said. “We’re both excited about the matchup. We think it’ll be a fun game.”

For Iowa, a team that can score shot-for-shot with nearly any team in the country (81.9 points per game), defense is the focal point. The Hawkeyes give up an average of 76.6 points per game during Big Ten play, which ranks right in the conference’s cellar.

Defense, though, proved dominant in Iowa’s win over Michigan; McCaffery mixed up his defense, throwing a mélange of man and zone, which confused the Wolverines.

Iowa can’t afford a start like in its last road contest, however. The Hawkeyes gave up 55 points in the first half of their 92-87 loss to Minnesota on Jan. 27. In total, Iowa has allowed 84.4 points per game in losses this season, and a repeat effort defensively would add to more fire in an already wild race for the Big Ten.