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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Can Indiana find basketball sanctuary on the road?

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Wednesday, February 15, 2017 11:54 am

Indiana is reeling.

The college basketball world knows it.

Hoosier Nation boils. 

Drama builds.

Or is that apathy? 

This much we know — Assembly Hall is no longer a Hoosier sanctuary, but perhaps the road can be.

Perhaps.

The Hoosiers (15-11 overall, 5-8 in the Big Ten) take a three-game losing streak into tonight’s game at Minnesota (18-7, 6-6), which has won three straight.

The Gophers are 4.5-point favorites.

A cynic could ask, if IU can no longer win at home (two straight losses in Assembly Hall, four home losses in less than two months), why would the road be better, especially at Williams Arena?

The obvious answer — stop asking questions.

Anyway, the Hoosiers have many challenges, both with themselves (will strong leaders emerge; can they be crunch-time smart and productive) and from Minnesota.

What’s the key for a turnaround?

“Our defense has to create more offense for us,” guard Josh Newkirk said in a university release. “If we can get steals and get out in transition, it changes everything for us. Our rebounding will be very important.”

Added center Thomas Bryant: “Minnesota has been playing really well and they come at you with a lot of athletes.  We have to be aggressive on the glass and not let them get momentum.”

Minnesota is 13-3 at home this season. Indiana is 1-5 on the road. The Hoosiers’ only road win came at Penn State, when it won after blowing a lead thanks to James Blackmon’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.

The Hoosiers aren’t thinking about that.

“Control what you can control,” Bryant said. “Regardless of being at home or away, you have to be ready for the best out of every opponent.”

Or, as Newkirk put it, “focus on what is in front of you.”

As far as what will be in front of the Hoosiers, assistant coach Chuck Martin provided clarity.

“The biggest thing I have seen on film is their size. Now, they have unbelievable depth on the front line.”

To be be successful, Martin said, “Like any night, we have to get back in transition. We can’t give up easy baskets and force Minnesota to play in the half court. We have to win the 50-50 loose balls. We have to win the battle on the glass. And I think shot selection and being able to take good shots within the flow of our offense will really help us, particularly on the road.”

That’s easy to say, hard to do. And for these Hoosiers, nothing comes easy.

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