This is going to sting for a while. While Indiana struggled for much of the game, they found themselves tied, with the ball, and the shot clock off — with what appeared to be at worst, overtime. Instead, the Hoosiers missed multiple shots at the rim and were whistled for a loose ball foul with two seconds remaining — giving Arkansas a chance to win the game at the foul line. And that’s exactly what the Razorbacks did.
It was a disappointing sequence on many levels, but ultimately, Indiana made a lot of mistakes throughout the game to put themselves in that position.
The bottom line — IU suffered its first loss of the year, 73-72 to drop to 3-1 on the season. There won’t be much time to recover and watch film, as IU returns to action on Tuesday night at home against UT Arlington.
Bud Walton Arena is a tough road venue, and Arkansas is a respectable if not great team. Razorback forward Daniel Gafford is undeniably great.
To have the ball at the end with a chance to win the game means you did something right. That is especially true when you consider that IU continues to be down a starter (Zach McRoberts) and two key rotation players (Devonte Green and Jerome Hunter).
Indiana was only able to get in that position in the final seconds because they were able to come back from a 10-point second half deficit.
But after such an impressive showing against Marquette earlier in the week, IU took a step back today. Their youth and lack of depth, at least as things stand now, were exposed. Nevertheless, the Hoosiers got good experience on the road that will prepare them for the Big Ten.
It’s hard to be too critical here. With Devonte Green out and Rob Phinisee in foul trouble, Indiana was trying to play against full court pressure and aggressive half court defense without a point guard on the floor for much of the game. Al Durham can handle the point guard duties for brief stints, but that is a tough ask against that defense, especially for 36 minutes.
The bottom line is that Indiana got sped up for much of the game, which is exactly what the Razorbacks want to do. Whether it was missed layups, airballs, trying to shoot over shot blockers, or of course turnovers — it was clear that Indiana was out of their comfort zone. 18 turnovers on just 13 assists further illustrates that point.
Indiana wasn’t good for much of the game in the half court either. Whether it was bad passes or guys just not being strong with the ball, the Hoosiers were on their heels.
After the game, Archie Miller put it in simple terms — “You can’t win on the road with 18 turnovers.”
Arkansas only shot 43.8% for the game, but much of that was due to their own poor shot selection. While Gafford was going 12 for 15 from the field, the rest of the Razorbacks were shooting 23 three-pointers.
When they did throw the ball to Gafford, IU had few answers. He scored at will, and the Hoosiers either didn’t double team or were late sending help. Three times in the second half, Indiana took a one-point lead and Gafford immediately answered each time.
Indiana also struggled at times with Arkansas’ motion offense, leading to several uncharacteristic breakdowns that led to open drives to the basket.
Arkansas had 20 assists on just 12 turnovers, which highlights how IU was unable to disrupt much of what Arkansas was trying to do. The Hoosiers had just 4 steals and one block on the day as well.
How much of the issue was fatigue, especially with Durham and Romeo Langford playing so many minutes? It’s a fair question to ask.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (B+) Obviously the first half foul situation is difficult, but Indiana isn’t in this game without Morgan’s second half. Despite playing just 23 minutes, Morgan finished with 15 and 7. Covering Gafford was a tough ask, but he shared that duty.
- Justin Smith* (C) Smith took a step back today. In the first half he went back to his freshman year struggles finishing at the rim. He was clearly impacted by Gafford’s presence. Smith was just 1-6 from the field and 1-4 from the line, and had no rebounds and 2 turnovers in 15 minutes. He’ll see better days for sure.
- Romeo Langford* (A-) For much of the game, Langford was the only reason Indiana was hanging around. He found his touch from the foul line and from three point range in of all places, a tough road environment. More impressive than his 22 points were his 10 rebounds and 5 assists. Despite being a gifted scorer, Langford is clearly willing to give up the ball, although he did give it up to Arkansas four times.
- Rob Phinisee* (B) Don’t forget that this freshman stepped up and hit a three-pointer on the road to tie the game in the final minute. The kid is still doing great things — but this wasn’t his best day. IU just cannot afford to have him in foul trouble in a game like this. He managed to play turnover free for 21 minutes — but that just highlights the importance of having him on the floor.
- Al Durham* (B) Yes, he had 5 turnovers. For us, that is more a function of putting him in a difficult position playing point guard against that defense, and going for 36 minutes. Another big headline here is Durham going 3 for 4 from long range. He can be a major weapon on this team if his perimeter shot must be respected.
- Evan Fitzner (B-) The pace of this game and the matchups just weren’t a good fit for Fitzner. He was either going to have to guard Gafford or someone much smaller and quicker — and neither was a good answer. He managed 5 rebounds in 18 minutes but was a defensive liability.
- De’Ron Davis (B) Davis saw his most extensive action of the season with Morgan in foul trouble. Of course people are going to point to his missed put back at the end of the game. Was it fatigue? Davis did some nice things while he was in the game, including finishing at the rim — until that final sequence. He had three turnovers and isn’t much of a defensive presence yet, although he was able to bang a bit with Gafford.
- Damezi Anderson (B) Anderson continues to get valuable experience — but this wasn’t an ideal game for him to see as much action as he did. These are minutes that would have gone to Devonte Green, as IU needed someone to be much more effective at attacking the pressure. Anderson didn’t look comfortable dribbling up the floor in transition. On the bright side, he had just one turnover in 26 minutes.
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