Indiana vs. Duke — The Turning Point

The turning point in Indiana’s 91-81 loss to Duke was pretty clear.  For a raucous Indiana crowd spewing venom at Duke’s #3 all game long, this particular turning point was perhaps harder to swallow than if anyone else had delivered the decisive blows.  At the 4:11 mark, after De’Ron Davis free throws, Indiana trailed only 79-78.  The Hoosiers were hanging right with the top-ranked Blue Devils and it felt like something special might be brewing in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.  Visions of the 2011 “Wat Shot” surely crept into the minds of many of the Hoosier faithful.

For much of the game, Robert Johnson had done an admirable job holding Grayson Allen relatively in check.  At that 4:11 mark Allen had 16 points on 1-5 3-point shooting.  On Duke’s next possession however, Allen made a great shot fake on Devonte Green and stepped back and delivered a 3-pointer to stretch Duke’s lead to 81-77.  The Hoosiers were still within striking distance, although possessions were now becoming more precious.

Indiana went back to what had been working for much of the 2nd half and fed the ball to De’Ron Davis in the post.  He drew a foul and a trip to the free throw line as the game went to the under 4 minute time out.  Did that time out ice Davis?  We’ll never know, but he missed both shots, and Duke quickly responded with a Marvin Bagley III basket to stretch out to a 83-77 lead.  Indiana let Bagley get post position too low as it had done much of the game.  Duke’s big men were nearly impossible for Indiana to stop once they caught the ball down on the block.

Indiana then missed two awkward looks from the perimeter, one by Johnson and one by Josh Newkirk.  Indiana had been able to get penetration on Duke’s defense much of the game, but the Blue Devils closed out more effectively on this possession, forcing the challenged shots.

On the next possession Robert Johnson lost a cutting Gary Trent, Jr. and Bagley found him for a basket and a foul.  86-77 Duke.

After two Robert Johnson free throws cut the lead back to 86-79, Allen would deliver the final dagger.  Despite being closely guarded by Johnson and Davis, Allen hit a tough step-back fade away basket with only 1:30 left.  It was the kind of moment that you would expect a senior leader to have, and Allen delivered.  That made the score 88-79 and the outcome was no longer in doubt.