Indiana is still looking for a complete game.
After Sunday’s loss to Michigan, IU head coach Archie Miller indicated that a lack of toughness at the start of games was the culprit for the Hoosiers repeatedly finding themselves playing from behind.
This time it was Indiana that ran out to the early lead, but the Hoosiers could not sustain it. As a result, IU is on its first losing streak of the season.
Although they suffered their fourth road loss in five tries on the season, Indiana did get some good news as freshman point guard Rob Phinisee returned from injury, seeing his first action since December 19.
Indiana (12-4, 3-2) will return to action on Monday night at home against Nebraska.
Don’t be fooled here. A good start with a bad finish is not better than a bad start with a good finish. The same toughness that was lacking early in games was lacking late in this one.
Archie Miller called it “as good as a first half as we’ve played.” With five minutes left in the first half, IU was up 28-14 and it felt like they were a basket or two away from building a lead that might be too much for Maryland to overcome.
Instead, the Terrapins picked up their energy and Indiana didn’t respond. The Terrapins worked the margin down to eight at the half and then went on a 16-2 run to start the second half. From there, it was Indiana that was on the brink of falling too far behind. The Hoosiers managed to hang around, but it was a disappointing outcome after such a promising start.
While Phinisee and De’Ron Davis returned, neither was anywhere near 100 percent. That’s the reason why this grade isn’t worse.
This is still a team that is trying to get healthy. That showed up clearly in IU’s bench production. The Hoosiers got just two points from their reserves after getting nothing against Michigan.
You expect to win most games where you shoot 49% from the field and commit just seven turnovers. Add to that a perfect 16 for 16 night from the foul line and 41% shooting from behind the three-point line, and it is almost inconceivable that IU could lose this game.
The reality is that the Hoosiers were much better in the first half (56%) than the second (43%). IU got a lot of good looks from its offense in the first half, but Maryland adjustments left the Hoosiers in more of a scramble mode in the second stanza. Indiana was reduced to a lot of individual play, as evidenced by their just four second half assists.
Much of the second half production came from Romeo Langford creating with the ball in his hands. He scored 20 of Indiana’s 40 points during the second segment.
For 15 minutes, Indiana was thriving on defense. Effectively flashing double team actions at Maryland’s post players, IU had the Terrapins’ number in the half court.
Maryland made the adjustment to get point guard Anthony Cowan moving downhill, and IU struggled to react in transition. With the Hoosiers on their heels, the narrative of the game changed as Maryland became the aggressor.
.@IndianaMBB's Archie Miller AIN'T. PLAYIN. pic.twitter.com/d0fojgbqmL
— FOX College Hoops (@CBBonFOX) January 12, 2019
Justin Smith’s foul trouble compounded things. The sophomore forward is one of IU’s best defenders and he was critical to the game plan for contending with Bruno Fernando and Jalen Smith. Without him, IU didn’t have the big and athletic bodies that were needed to battle with Maryland’s talented big men.
Nowhere were IU’s deficiencies down low more apparent than rebounding the basketball. Part of defense is actually finishing the possession all the way through to the defensive rebound, and 18 times IU couldn’t do that, allowing the Terrapins to extend possessions.
Miller said this about the Terrapins ability to continually generate additional possessions —
“We gave them 18 second shots and that was the difference in the game.”
Maryland scored 64 points in the final 35 minutes of the game. It total, despite the promising start, this was likely IU’s worst defensive effort of the season, save perhaps for the Duke game.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Three keys, final box score, specialty stats
- Archie Miller post-game
- Mark Turgeon post-game
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (B) Morgan did what he could in this one, but the bottom line is that, playing 36 minutes, he was eventually worn down. Nevertheless, 14 points, 8 rebounds and no turnovers while shooting above 50% is a good night. Obviously he has to find a way to get more stops against Fernando.
- Justin Smith* (B-) Indiana couldn’t afford Smith’s foul trouble. +/- stats within one game are dangerous, but his +22 while all but one other player on the team was negative tells you about his importance in this one. But he only played 22 minutes and has to be smarter with the fouls.
- Romeo Langford* (A) When his perimeter shot is falling, Langford is virtually unstoppable. This was likely his most complete game of the season, including a perfect 9 for 9 from the foul line. He looks more and more comfortable as the season progresses. He was also able to slow down Cowan some when he started guarding him.
- Al Durham* (B-) Durham hit a big three pointer at the end of the first half that stopped a Maryland run as that part of his game continues to shine. Indiana really needs him to become more of a disruptive defensive presence. Too often he fades from the game.
- Devonte Green* (B-) This was Green’s second straight Big Ten road game with no turnovers. That’s impressive. After a fast start he struggled with his shot, especially finishing in the paint. It was a thankless job, but he really struggled to stay in front of Cowan.
- Rob Phinisee (B) He clearly isn’t himself yet, but the freshman point guard still managed 2 assists and no turnovers in 17 minutes. He also struggled with Cowan, but there will be better days here.
- Evan Fitzner (D) Fitzner’s lack of elite athleticism really showed up in this one, as he struggled on both ends of the floor. While he continues to struggle, there isn’t a real clear answer on the bench either. These are likely minutes that Jerome Hunter would have in large part received.
- Zach McRoberts (C+) The complete lack of offensive production means that McRoberts has to be elite defensively, and he hasn’t been that for the most part this year including Friday night. He continues to play like his back is still bothering him.
- De’Ron Davis (N/A) Davis got in for a few minutes but he clearly wasn’t ready to return.
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