The 6th Man: Hoosiers Look to Bounce Back against North Carolina Central
By: Will Chukerman
Coming off a gut wrenching loss against Iowa, Indiana looks to bounce back against non-conference foe North Carolina Central.
A better performance will be paramount for the Hoosiers, as the Hawkeyes exploited many of their flaws in the 78-66 win.
Perimeter Defense and toughness was something that was lacking in Iowa City.
Starters, Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford only combined for three points in the loss with seemingly nothing going right. To rebound, it helps that Indiana comes back to the comfort of Assembly Hall where they have only lost once this season.
North Carolina Central comes in on a two-game win streak, putting them at 14-12 and tied for 5th in the MEAC.
The Eagles are led by Dominique Sutton, who sat out last year after transferring from Kansas State. Sutton is averaging 16 points and just about 8 rebounds per game, giving the team a legit number one option.
Another former transfer is second on the team in scoring for the Eagles. Junior Ray Willis, a 6-foot-6 forward who originally went to Oklahoma, comes in averaging 16 points and 6 rebounds.
After those two Eagles there’s a big drop off in scoring as the team’s third leading scorer averages only 9 points a game.
Stopping Sutton and Willis will make it much easier for Indiana to come out on top, but that’s easier said than done. In the past two games, the Hoosiers have been torched by strong individual performances (example: Matt Gatens’s 30 point performance Sunday in Iowa City).
The defensive intensity will need to improve for the Hoosiers to give them the confidence that every team needs late in the season.
The Eagles also do a good job of spreading the wealth on offense—averaging 15 assists a game—which puts them at 43rd in the country. They also shoot well from the field, shooting 47.5% from the field, which ranks 32nd.
On Indiana’s end, the Hoosiers will need to see more production from their stars, as Hulls and Watford played their worst games to date last week.
Even though NC Central seems to be an easy matchup, another lackluster offensive performance will make for a difficult night.
A game after supposedly “silencing his haters”, Verdell Jones was held scoreless in 22 minutes of action and also added 2 turnovers against Iowa. Jones will look to this game as a confidence booster and a chance to get back on track.
The lone bright spot from Sunday night’s game came from sharpshooter, Matt Roth.
In 15 minutes, Roth went 4-4 from three and after the game IU coach Tom Crean said that Roth would see an increase in his playing time.
Roth will need the rest of his team to catch his hot hand, which should be easier to find at home.
A loss like IU had on Sunday always has the potential for a carry-over feeling, but the Hoosiers have the luxury of playing a team that hasn’t beaten a team with an RPI above 150.
The Hoosiers look to win Wednesday night and send the Eagles flying home with a loss.
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