Just when you thought things couldn’t get worse.
In a game that it felt like Indiana just might find a way to win, along comes all 6-foot-0, 180 pounds of Iowa’s Jordan Bohannon. Again.
With three minutes remaining in regulation the Hawkeye guard had three points. In what seemed like the blink of an eye he ended the game with 17 points including four late three-pointers to break Hoosier hearts yet again.
It wasn’t as if the Hoosiers forget about Bohannon. He just stepped up and found ways to give himself room and knock down closely guarded shots.
But that is just the way it is going during this miserable run of 12 losses in 13 games for IU.
From banked three-pointers against Minnesota, to the Matt Haarms fiasco against Purdue, it now seems that merely losing isn’t enough. There has to be a gut shot bizarre element to each game to rub salt in the wound.
While there was still hope of a late NCAA Tournament run for this team going into the game, that is all but out the window barring an unlikely run through the Big Ten Tournament.
Indiana (13-14, 4-12) will return home to face Wisconsin on Tuesday night at 9:00 p.m. at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Indiana came out with great purpose in both halves. The Hoosiers started the game with an 8-0 run and the second half with a 6-0 run.
IU led for nearly 30 minutes of game time but could never get enough separation to get comfortable. Iowa was 0 for 8 from long range in the first half — a number that seemed unlikely to hold up for the rest of the game. Of course Bohannon saw to that.
Miller was asked how this team can mentally hold up after being on the losing end of so much late game heroics —
“You’ve got to make your breaks. At the end of the day there’s good players in this league. Good players make shots, especially when it’s crunch time. Sometimes that’s the way it goes. We’ve got to find a way to change it,” Miller said.
While IU has good players too, unlike Bohannon, they are not making the plays down the stretch to pull out close games.
The numbers look familiar to the last six weeks with Indiana shooting 41% from the field overall, 22% from long range and 55% from the line. But it was one of those numbers that really stood out to Miller —
“We did enough offensively tonight to feel like you’d win the game, but 12 for 22 from the free throw line is going to get you on the road,” Miller said.
Miller’s comments about the offense doing enough were likely in the context of this game, where the defense was exceptional, and just a few more free throws would have been enough.
Indiana struggled early when Iowa went to a zone defense, but the insertion of Evan Fitzner into the game, and specifically into the high post, seemed to soften up the Hawkeyes’ scheme.
Another low assist number (10) continues to suggest that IU is not getting enough ball movement, penetration, and kick-outs.
Indiana held a very good Hawkeye offense to just 63 points in regulation, while shooting just 42%. Both numbers are well under Iowa’s season averages of 80 points per game and 47% from the field.
Things did get a little loose in the overtime, especially when Rob Phinisee exited the game with a leg injury.
But with 9 blocks and 8 steals, Miller was impressed with the defensive effort against the potent Hawkeye attack, while noting that the effort wasn’t as sharp in the overtime session.
“For us and our guys defensively, especially through the first 40 minutes, really dialed in on the perimeter, but I thought we at least took away the three point line and again they missed some that they probably make on a normal basis,” Miller said.
Phinisee’s energy level appeared back to its early season form, and that translated to really good pressure on the ball for both him and his teammates.
“I thought our on the ball defense was good if not better than Tuesday night,” Miller said.
While the Hoosiers were good in many respects, they struggled to close out possessions, giving up 15 Iowa offensive rebounds and 20 second chance points. Miller noted that as much as Bohannon was a problem, the second chance opportunities also did in the Hoosiers —
“Overwhelming offensive rebounds at inopportune times probably got us.”
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (A-) Morgan battled first half foul trouble but still managed to log 29 minutes and had a really big game despite unusually low rebounding numbers. He set a career high with 6 blocks to go with 15 points and 3 steals.
- De’Ron Davis* (B-) Davis helped jump start both halves and continues to be a reliable scoring presence. He needs to be much more of presence on the glass, with just 3 rebounds in 25 minutes of action.
- Romeo Langford* (B-) Langford came out for just one minute the entire game. He had ups and downs, but the effort was good, especially rebounding the basketball. He had 4 turnovers and struggled against Iowa’s pressure when they extended out to half court.
- Al Durham* (C) It may not be fair to expect so much offense out of Durham, but IU needs his production. The sophomore guard was shut out on the night. With shots not falling and better ball handling options, he lost minutes in this one.
- Rob Phinisee* (B) Phinisee still isn’t shooting the ball at a high level, but his energy and effort was great in this game. A late strip of the ball from Tyler Cook appeared as though it might seal it, but Phinisee missed the second of two free throws to leave the door open.
- Devonte Green (C-) Green was 0 for 4 in the second half and overtime and missed free throws as well. His defense on Bohannon’s overtime dagger was placing too much emphasis on a left handed drive that he should have let Bohannon have while focusing on his right hand.
- Justin Smith (D) With 2 turnovers in just six minutes, it appears that Smith was benched for the rest of the game. He managed a highlight reel put-back dunk during that time. But that’s just it with Smith — it’s often more flash than quality.
- Evan Fitzner (B) Fitzner came in and changed the game with his shots in the high post against the Iowa zone. In total he had more points in this game than his prior 12 combined. There were still deficiencies on the defensive end, but the senior forward was clearly a net positive in this one.
- Race Thompson (B) Thompson is showing a lot of promise with his motor and willingness to bang for rebounds. He definitely has a future in the Big Ten but will need to improve his post defense.
- Jake Forrester and Zach McRoberts also saw brief action in the game.
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier