Indiana Looks to Regain Defensive Edge Versus Iowa Thursday Night

Archie Miller hasn't been pleased with his team's defense over the last couple of games. With a week off, the Hoosiers hope to fix that.
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BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — During the offseason, Indiana worked hard to establish its defense and try to make it one of the best in the country.

Early on, the Hoosiers' defense was stifling, but ever since conference play started, the defense has tailed off.

The last time Indiana took the floor, it allowed 81 points to Purdue in Assembly Hall. The team has had a week off since then after the Michigan State game was postponed, and now Indiana is set to play one of the best offensive teams in the country on the road.

"I think at the end of the day, regardless of who you play, you have to hang your hat on some of the things you value," head coach Archie Miller said. "We worked very, very hard in the offseason and the fall and in the early part of this year to build our defense to be one that we can carry on throughout the course of the year against the best teams that we play."

Iowa is the No. 4 team in the country with the likely favorite to be named National Player of the Year in Luka Garza. Indiana will have to tighten its defense if it wants to hang with the Hawkeyes, especially when it comes to defending the three-point line.

In conference play, opponents are shooting 40% from beyond the arc against Indiana. The Hoosiers combat that with just 31% shooting from three on offense.

Purdue made 11-of-17 three-pointers against Indiana a week ago, and most of their looks were wide open.

"Just being able to close out and chase the ball as well," senior guard Al Durham said. "But also being able to find shooters in transition. We have to stop people from getting as many threes as they've had these last couple games. We gotta be able to control that on the defensive end."

Miller doesn't believe his team isn't trying as hard on defense, but he thinks Indiana has lost its fundamentals.

"It's not for lack of trying. It's for lack of fundamentals," Miller said. "At the end of the day, we've had a lot of breakdowns."

Indiana is losing a lot of its one-on-one battles, and Miller wants the Hoosiers to regain some pride in those matchups.

"I think being solid in guarding the ball is essential," he said. "I think being able to guard the post one-on-one is essential."

With Iowa, the Hawkeyes have one of the more dynamic offenses in the country. Iowa is averaging a league-best 1.203 points per possession in Big Ten play.

As dangerous as Garza is with the ball in his hands, the Hawkeyes have snipers all around him from 3-point range.

"Their transition offense and their ability to shoot the ball is really staggering," Miller said.

If Indiana has the defensive lapses it's been having the last couple of games, it's going to be a long night for the Hoosiers in Iowa City.

But this week off has allowed Indiana to regroup in practice. Miller thinks the mental toughness has returned to the team, and he said the team has worked hard in practice to regain that defensive edge it had early in the season.

The most challenging part of Indiana's schedule is ahead of them, and Thursday night presents a big opportunity for Indiana to turn its season around.

"We've been doing a good job where I feel like our leaders have been leading," Durham said. "Keeping each other together. We've been real close. We've been working real hard together, so I feel like we've been doing a really good job."

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