Indiana-Northwestern Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated January 19, 2013
After being humbled in its last contest, Indiana must regroup if it wants to remain undefeated on the road in the Big Ten. The second-ranked Hoosiers look to bounce back from their first conference defeat and avoid a fourth consecutive road loss to Northwestern on Sunday. Riding an 18-game home winning streak and leading the nation with 87.1 points per contest, Indiana (15-2, 3-1) shot a season-low 37.0 percent in a 64-59 loss to surging Wisconsin on Tuesday. The Badgers consistently contested Hoosiers shots while making big buckets of their own, and committed only eight turnovers in winning their 11th straight over Indiana. "We played really hard," coach Tom Crean said. "We are always going to play really hard. "When we weren't making shots, especially the ones that were open, we also didn't come down and stay as disciplined as we needed to be defensively." Star sophomore Cody Zeller had 23 points with 10 rebounds, but went 1 of 7 from the field in the second half. Indiana had its six-game winning streak snapped and suffered its first regulation loss of the season. The Hoosiers hope their latest performance was just a mild setback on the road to what could be a special season. Indiana is still the highest-scoring squad in the country at 85.4 points per game and is among the nation's best shooting teams at 50.3 percent. It's also the only school in the Big Ten with five players averaging at 10.0 points. If Indiana can improve to 3-0 on the road in the league it would snap a three-game skid at Northwestern (11-7, 2-3), which won the last two meetings in Evanston by a combined 29 points. Zeller scored 23 as the Hoosiers avoided a third straight defeat in the series with a 71-66 win over the Wildcats on Feb. 15. Though Northwestern has enjoyed success against the Hoosiers, it's shot 35.5 percent and averaged 58.0 points while losing its first two Big Ten home contests by a combined 48 points. The Wildcats, however, are coming off a 68-54 road win over No. 23 Illinois on Thursday. Getting a team-high 20 points from senior guard Reggie Hearn, Northwestern went 8 of 15 from 3-point range while holding the Illini to a 3-of-20 effort from beyond the arc and forcing 18 turnovers. "We just went out and executed," said senior Jared Swopshire, who had 12 points and six rebounds. "Everybody did a good job of communicating. A great team effort. "Just for our confidence and our team spirit, this is a big win. Now we just have to take it over to our home games." Hearn is averaging a team-leading 14.1 points and shooting 50.7 percent. Northwestern has not won back-to-back games against Top 25 opponents since January 2009.
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