Bob Knight isn’t convinced. Then again, it takes more than a two-game winning streak to assure the Indiana coach all is right with his team.
“Consistency has not exactly been a byword with this team,” he said. “… We’re an immature team in terms of the mentality that we bring to the game.”
Nevertheless, the Hoosiers are playing with renewed confidence and some uncharacteristic offense.
With forward Andrae Patterson out with a sprained ankle against Ohio State and Penn State, A.J. Guyton and Charlie Miller helped produce Indiana’s first back-to-back games of 80-plus points all season.
“We have so much expectations and want to do so well, sometimes we get so focused on the wrong things,” said Miller, whose season-high 22 points led Indiana over Penn State 81-57 Tuesday night. “Now our approach is just competing, trying to play to win.”
Miller has averaged 13.5 points a game over the past eight games and scored more points against Ohio State and Penn State than he totaled in the first seven games of the season.
“I’m just trying to play, to do the things I can do and stay away from the things I can’t do,” he said. “Coach Knight and the coaching staff have stuck with me, and I’m finally coming through, finally getting some progress out of my play.”
Another thing Patterson’s absence has produced is more playing time for Guyton, who was on the floor 78 of a possible 80 minutes and scored 45 points in the two games, and for Miller, who played 75 minutes and scored 34 points.
“That’s something I really can’t explain,” Miller said of the Hoosiers’ success without Patterson. “But I can’t wait until he gets back because then hopefully things can go our way and we can have a late run.”
The two wins evened the Hoosiers’ Big Ten record at 6-6 with six games to go, starting today at No. 14 Michigan. Indiana then returns home to play Purdue on Tuesday.
Knight doesn’t know what to think. The two victories followed three losses that accounted for Indiana’s longest losing streak in seven years and knocked the Hoosiers out of the Top 25.
“I look at it always with mixed emotions when we get in a situation occasionally like we’re in now,” Knight said. “We’d have been pretty tough to beat over the course of 12 Big Ten games playing like we did (against Penn State).
“But think back this year, and how many points we kind of squandered away at the end of the first half and beginning of the second half. Those have always been, in my thinking, two important points in the game,” Knight said. “With the good teams we’ve had (in the past), in the second half, in 3 minutes, it’s over. But, boy, with us, we keep everybody guessing.”
On Saturday, Indiana led Ohio State by 13 at the half. The Buckeyes cut the lead to three points in the first 4 minutes of the second half before the Hoosiers came back to win 93-76.
On Tuesday night, Indiana’s 27-point halftime lead against Penn State dwindled to 17 before the Hoosiers regrouped.
“We’ve played this way before and turned around and haven’t played very well,” Knight said. “Sure, I would hope it would (indicate a trend), but who knows?”
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