Well, if you thought it couldn’t possibly get harder than the Duke, Purdue and Michigan State losses, how does a double overtime loss to Top 20 Ohio State on Senior Night sound? Sigh. The Hoosiers certainly had their chances in this one, and even went so far as to hit what looked like the game winning shot as Juwan Morgan scored to give IU a one point lead with under 10 seconds remaining. But Ohio State had an answer and broke the Hoosiers’ hearts with a 3-point dagger. The Buckeyes win it, 80-78 in front of yet another bad showing in the stands by Indiana’s student body.
Overall: B+ Ohio State had the better early energy on defense and securing offensive rebounds and it helped them run out to a 26-14 lead. From there the Hoosiers gathered themselves despite Juwan Morgan foul trouble and outscored the Buckeyes 19-7 to finish the half. It was an impressive stretch as the Hoosiers looked outmatched on paper but were able to will themselves to a halftime tie. From there the game stayed very close as no one was able to gain meaningful separation in the 2nd half or during the two overtimes. The Hoosiers competed all night with a very good team once again. But once again, moral victories mean nothing at Indiana.
Coaching: B+ Once this team started playing his style consistently, Archie Miller’s teams have been competitive irrespective of the opponent. At this point you have to believe that with a more talented and complete roster including more shooters and length, the IU program is in good hands going forward. Without that it felt like Miller’s hands were tied much of the season, limited to the hand he’s been dealt. There were times in this game were we questioned not having either Morgan or Johnson on the floor, but IU seemed to fight through those segments just fine — a tribute to the changing culture.
Offense: B All things considered it was a decent effort on the offensive end against an Ohio State team that was playing good defense. The Hoosiers didn’t settle for perimeter shots and instead attacked the paint. That led to 45% overall from the field and 16 assists on 12 turnovers. Nothing special but not bad either. When the Hoosiers did shoot from distance they were better than normal, connecting on 7 of 16 for 44%. Unfortunately, IU might have been able to win this game in regulation if it had merely made free throws. The Hoosiers finished at 57% overall with 10 misses, and this is now at least 3 conference games where free throws cost IU a game.
Defense: B+ After the early Buckeye 26-14 run Indiana settled down and played good defense the rest of the way. The Hoosiers struggled throughout with rebounding however, as the Buckeyes gathered 14 offensive rebounds on the night, leading to multiple second chance opportunities. While Keita Bates-Diop ended up with 24 points, he had to take 24 shots to get those points. Indiana limited Ohio State to 33% from behind the arc.
Players with meaningful minutes:
- Al Durham, Jr.: A- A solid 11 minutes including a big 3-pointer that pulled IU back within four in the 2nd half. Durham produced timely points when IU was going with a lineup where it needed someone to score.
- Josh Newkirk: A- A really nice way to go out for a player that has had to endure ridiculous behavior from an unsophisticated minority of IU’s fan base. He was a key player in IU’s first half comeback, hit a big 3-pointer later, and was a constant with facilitating the offense, ending up with 6 assists. Archie also complimented his defense in the game.
- Justin Smith: A- Smith delivered again with strong finishes around the rim. 16 points on the night in 37 minutes of play. He probably should have had more rebounds with that much playing time. We really liked the fight he showed battling Tate in the post on defense.
- Robert Johnson: A- You had to feel good about Robert Johnson hitting two free throws to force the second overtime on his Senior Night. Despite at one point being in a year long slump, and he stepped up and hit them, even enduring a time out intended to ice him. A great four year starter for the Hoosiers went out strong with 17 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds. He did have 3 turnovers, but he played 43 minutes.
- Devonte Green: C Once again Devonte felt like a no show here. Tonight it wasn’t turnovers but he just never seemed comfortable on either end, and obviously Miller wasn’t comfortable sticking with him, playing him only 16 minutes in a 50 minute game.
- Juwan Morgan: B+ For the second straight game we were left sensing that IU’s Mr. Everything is exhausted. It showed up in several ways including missed free throws, lower offensive efficiency and turnovers. Nevertheless, Morgan contributed big things in countless ways including great pocket passes in the post for 3 assists, 18 points, 7 rebounds, 3 steals and 2 blocks. And he did hit what appeared to be the game-winner on a great post move. But the 5 of 12 free throws was very costly.
- Zach McRoberts: A Zach was back in a big way tonight — making big 3-pointers, getting tap-outs, 2 steals, and 8 rebounds. But more than anything he was the main guy dealing with Bates-Diop, and you’d have to say he more than held his own. He was in good position and forced a 9 for 24 shooting night for the likely Big Ten player of the year.
- Freddie McSwain, Jr.: B He struggled a bit with finishing around the rim and his old nemesis the airball at the free throw line reappeared. He did add 6 rebounds in 25 minutes, but on a night when IU was outrebounded 41-35, more was needed.
- Collin Hartman: B He gave it a go. It almost looked like a heat check to see if his shot might be falling, but alas it wasn’t to be for his last home game and Senior Night 2.0. His body just looks broken down at this point with all of the injuries. Maybe a week off will help.
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Photo credit – Trevor Ruszkowski, USA Today