After defeating Iowa 73-70 at home, Northwestern heads back to the road when they visit Indiana on Saturday. The Wildcats have lost seven of their last eight away from Welsh-Ryan Arena. They are just 1-6 on the road in the Big Ten this season.
The Wildcats hung on to defeat Iowa on Thursday night. They led 22-9 in the first half and by as many as six in the second half.
NU didn't put the game away until the Hawkeyes turned the ball over on the final play. Four Wildcats finished in double figures as NU won for just the second time in its last seven games.
Northwestern’s problems on the boards and defensively continued against the Hawkeyes. Iowa shot 51.7 percent, made five of its 12 three-point attempts and outrebounded NU 34-27.
The Wildcats did seem to regain their shooting stroke. Northwestern shot 45 percent from the floor and 12-of-28 from three.
Northwestern used its formula for success to defeat Indiana in Evanston in January. They shot 49.1 percent, connected on 10-of-20 beyond the arc and held their own on the boards. IU had just a 30-29 rebounding edge.
Northwestern led 68-44 in the second half before an IU rally cut the margin to eight. Northwestern was able to hit their free throws and win 93-81.
The key for Indiana might be to slow the pace. Despite the stereotype that the Princeton offense is deliberate, this group of Wildcats likes to run.
Northwestern ranks third in the Big Ten in scoring at 73.2 PPG. They led the Big Ten in scoring during conference games in 2010.
When scoring 70-plus points this season, NU is 14-1. If they fall below that mark, the Wildcats are 1-9.
The Hoosiers' two best players, Verdell Jones III and Christian Watford, have both missed a handful of games with injuries. Watford returned in IU’s loss at Michigan last Sunday and led the Hoosiers with 14 points.
Indiana has good balance with Jones, Watford and Jordan Hulls averaging in double figures. Victor Oladipo contributes 8.0 PPG.
Maurice Creek, who averages 8.3 PPG, is out after suffering a stress fracture in his right patella at the end of the Hoosiers’ loss to the Wolverines.
Despite being tenth in the conference, IU has been tougher at home lately, winning three of their last four. Included were wins over Illinois and Minnesota, who were both ranked at the time IU played them.
The Hoosiers seem to be improving. With just one senior and two juniors on his roster, Tom Crean has a very young team.
They showed fight in Ann Arbor. After falling behind 66-44, IU rallied with a 12-0 run late in the second half. They closed the game on a 25-7 run to make the final score a respectable 73-69.
The Hoosiers have a brutal stretch after facing NU. Their next three games are against No. 11 Purdue, No. 3 Ohio State and No. 10 Wisconsin.
The game will air at 6 p.m. CST on the Big Ten Network, with Tom Hart and Greg Kelser calling the game.