Yesterday, Providence head coach Ed Cooley said he was “flabbergasted’ at his team’s effort in a big loss to Indiana.
If that was Cooley’s reaction, then Archie Miller must have been similarly stunned after what the Texas Longhorns did to his team in a 66-44 drubbing — that didn’t feel even that close.
Shaka Smart’s ‘Horns jumped on Indiana from the start, suffocating the Hoosiers’ backcourt and locking down their frontcourt. The score remained close early, in large part due to Texas beating itself; it had five turnovers through the first quarter of the game.
But once the Longhorns began to take care of the ball, the game quickly got out of hand. Why? Because Indiana could never find answers on the offensive end.
In some ways, offensive ineptitude has become commonplace in the Archie Miller era, at least from three-point range. And the three-ball wasn’t falling again today as IU shot just 2-of-10 from beyond the arc.
But the shocking part about this contest was Indiana’s inability to make the easy baskets. IU shot just 25 percent on two-point attempts, with most of those attempts coming in the paint.
Nothing went right for Indiana in this game. The frontcourt duo of Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson, which had imposed its will against Tennessee Tech and Providence, was missing in action. Time and again Jackson-Davis attacked the basket and missed relatively easy looks for a player of his stature, falling away from contact and showing little of his right hand that was described in the offseason as “much improved.”
Jackson-Davis has made just 20-of-43 field goal attempts to start the season, well off his 56.6 performance from the field as a true freshman.
Miller believes the early misses might be getting to his preseason All-American.
“He’s missing some easy ones,” Miller said about Jackson-Davis. “Right now he’s worrying a little more about missing shots, and he’s got to do the other part too.”
For his part, Jackson-Davis thinks a bit more composure is the answer.
“It’s just me rushing my shots,” he said.
The backcourt struggled mightily against the veteran guards of Texas. To the Longhorns’ credit, it was the aggressive pressure from Matt Coleman and Andrew Jones that forced Al Durham, Rob Phinisee, and Armaan Franklin to reverse the ball around the perimeter to no avail.
“We got to execute better,” Miller said. “We have to have better pace. We have to have better movement.”
Once Phinisee got in foul trouble and Durham went down with an ankle injury, Miller was forced to give more time to freshmen Khristian Lander and Trey Galloway, and neither appeared ready for an opponent of this caliber.
More than anything else, while difficult to pinpoint with stats, it was what seemed like a lack of effort and determination that transcended the performance. Texas seemed to want it more.
“They played harder today, more physical and imposed more will on us today,” Miller said.
Indiana was outrebounded 48 to 29. They recorded just six assists. They turned the ball over 14 times. Those are numbers that wouldn’t cut it in a pickup game at the Bill Garrett Fieldhouse, much less in the Maui Invitational against a top-20 opponent.
The loss follows an early season pattern during the Archie Miller era. In 2017, a dramatic win over Notre Dame was followed by a loss to Fort Wayne. In 2018 a big win over Marquette was met with a loss to Arkansas. Last year IU was embarrassed by Wisconsin after a big win over Florida State. Now, this Texas debacle after what seemed to be an early season defining win over Providence.
The good news is Indiana has a chance to respond, even without Al Durham, who is doubtful to play on Wednesday.
They’ll face a Stanford team led by projected top ten NBA draft pick Ziaire Williams on Wednesday. It is by no means a guaranteed win. In fact, after Tuesday’s performance the Hoosiers will likely be underdogs.
But if Indiana can leave Asheville 2-1, and if Trayce Jackson-Davis can begin to back up all of the preseason recognition, the team will return home feeling good about their outlook despite this embarrassing showing against Texas.
That’s just how it goes when you play three games in three days.
“In tournaments like this, you just have to move on,” Franklin said.
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