Indiana bids for complete effort vs. Merrimack

Dec 8, 2021; Madison, Wisconsin, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Xavier Johnson (0) drives the ball up the court during the game with the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center. Mandatory Credit: Mary Langenfeld-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana returns home looking to establish more consistency before heading into the teeth of its Big Ten schedule.

The Hoosiers (7-2) will host Merrimack (4-7) in Bloomington on Sunday afternoon, four days after squandering a 22-point lead in a 64-59 loss at Wisconsin.

Indiana was in control for the first half, building a 42-25 halftime lead. But the Hoosiers couldn’t finish. Indiana shot just 22.7 percent from the field in the second half and made just 3 of 9 attempts from the foul line in the final 20 minutes.

“We missed free throws coming down the stretch and we couldn’t get the critical stops that we needed,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said.

The Hoosiers have been led this season by preseason All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis (19.7 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game), Xavier Johnson (10.3 ppg, 4.3 assists per game) and Race Thompson (10.2 ppg, 8.9 rpg).

Parker Stewart (8.7 ppg) is leading the Big Ten in 3-point shooting percentage (24 of 49, 49.0 percent).

“I’m happy with where he is as a player right now because he’s giving us some positive minutes and doing what he does best, and that’s making the long ball,” Woodson said of Stewart.

Indiana is 7-0 at home this season, with its best win coming against St. John’s on Nov. 17. The Hoosiers have won the seven games by an average margin of 19.3 points.

“Every game is important,” Woodson said. “Our goal is to not lose at home and figure it out when we go on the road.”

Defense has remained Indiana’s calling card this season, as the Hoosiers still lead the Big Ten in field goal percentage defense (35.4 percent) and defensive rebounds (31.7) and rank second in the league in blocked shots (6.0 per game). Indiana has held four of its first nine opponents under 60 points.

Merrimack is coming off an 80-55 setback at No. 5 Gonzaga on Thursday. The Warriors have lost four straight games.

“We want to play the best whenever possible,” Merrimack coach Joe Gallo said.

Jordan Minor has thrived in the post for Merrimack, averaging team highs in points (14.4) and rebounds (6.5).

–Field Level Media

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