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Up next for Indiana: Tonight at Northwestern

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For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio

Hoosiers back after week break

Saturday, February 22, 2014 - 4:51 am

Up next for IU: Tonight at Northwestern

When: 8:15 p.m.

Where: Welsh-Ryan Arena

On the air: BTN

Records: IU (14-11, 4-8 Big Ten), Northwestern (12-15, 5-9)

Expected starters for the Hoosiers: Will Sheehey – 6-7 senior forward, Noah Vonleh – 6-10 freshman forward, Yogi Ferrell -- 6-foot sophomore guard, Troy Williams – 6-7 freshman forward, Stanford Robinson --.6-4 freshman guard

Update: Indiana hasn't played in a week, the consequence of the fallen Assembly Hall steel plate that forced the postponement of last Tuesday's Iowa game. It's been rescheduled for Thursday night, Feb. 27, which means the Hoosiers will play four games in eight days. Given the players' preference of playing over practicing, that's not a bad thing, but let's not quibble over coaching worries. IU has to play with better discipline, focus and toughness. It has lot three straight games, and if it isn't careful, it could play itself right out of the postseason picture.

Yes, that would be very bad.

Sophomore guard Yogi Ferrell leads the Big Ten in scoring both overall (17.9) and in league games (19.2). The last Hoosier to do that for a full season was Eric Gordon in 2007-08. Freshman forward Noah Vonleh, a seven-time Big Ten freshman of the week winner, leads the Big Ten in rebounding (9.5).

Northwestern has already beaten IU once, 54-47, last month in Assembly Hall, but it has lost four straight. The Wildcats have one of the Big Ten's best defenses, allowing 63.3 points. That offsets the conference's worst offenses, scoring at a 60.7-point clip. They have three double-figure scorers in Drew Crawford (15.6 points), JerShon Cobb (12.4) and Tre Demps (10.7). Crawford is also among the league leaders in rebounding (6.8).

Coach Tom Crean: “Northwestern is shortening the game. That's one thing (about why the Wildcats defend so well). There are (fewer and fewer) possessions. You have to be prepared for how slow they may want the game to be. You've got to do everything in your power to play through that, but at the same time get some tempo in the game.

“The bottom line is they've got good players. They've got older players. They've got some guys that have been there and been through the battles and they know how to win. They're getting coached in an excellent way and they've been coached excellent before Chris (Collins) even got there. They know how to win and he's done a fantastic job of getting them to play the way he wants them to play.

“When you look at the attributes, they have very good physical strength. Their guards are strong. There's an ability to keep the ball on one side of the floor when they want to. They can switch defenses well. They do a lot of switching. They'll switch 1 through 5 at times, which always adds to the intrigue of their defense. Bottom line is they really try to shrink the court. You've got to stay very diligent in what you're trying to get accomplished on offense. You can't settle. There were far too many times in our game here that we settled and we tried to force things that weren't there rather than attacking what was there. What we've gotta do a much better job of, which some teams have and others haven't, is look for those opportunities.”