Drastic changes, same outcome.
Indiana found something between their embarrassing road loss at Minnesota on Saturday and their game against Purdue on Tuesday night. Energy, hustle, grit, determination — they were all on display in a manner that we haven’t witnessed all season from this 2018-19 Indiana basketball team.
What wasn’t on display was an ability to make shots. Close range, long range, free throws, fast breaks, — nothing was going down in a performance that was Indiana’s worst of the season from the field.
You wouldn’t be wrong to feel like some kind of deep, dark force is conspiring against this team. The word that keeps coming to mind throughout this season is bizarre. And yet it doesn’t matter. It’s another loss, and there is another game in just a few days.
Indiana (13-13, 4-11) travels to Iowa on Friday night.
It was literally the tale of two ends of the floor. Indiana turned in what was probably their best and worst efforts of the season on defense and offense, respectively. We’ll get to those.
As a whole, the team looked like they found something. Now the question will be — why it took so long. But IU head coach Archie Miller liked the transformation that took place in just a few days.
“For us, just proud of our effort level. I was proud of our togetherness, and that’s the one thing that we have to hold on to right now as we continue to push through, and that starts tomorrow. You’ve got to have short-term memory.
But the team that took the floor tonight had a great disposition, and that’s the thing that needs to stay.”
Neither team led by more than six, and Indiana led by four with 3:48 remaining in the game. Once again, the Hoosiers couldn’t make the plays down the stretch.
There is just no way around it. This was awful.
For as good as Indiana’s defense was, the offense cost IU the game. While Purdue played great, statistically at least, they aren’t an elite defensive team.
This was more about Indiana’s inability to knock down shots from all over the floor, and their inability to take care of the ball. IU had their highest turnover total since the Duke game with 17. On several occasions Indiana forced a turnover only to give it right back.
It was the same paint-clogging defensive strategy that Indiana has seen over and over, and for Miller, it largely just came down to putting the ball in the basket.
“You know, without watching the film, obviously you don’t have a great understanding of what, but I would say that we missed, especially in the first half, a lot of point-blank shots, had some open ones that didn’t go in. But we fought through it, and that was a good thing to see.
Second half, you know, they do a really good job of obviously clogging the paint. There’s not a whole lot of room down there, plus trapping the post was something we didn’t handle as well as we probably needed to in the game. We weren’t able to get it inside as much as we wanted to. But all in all, if you just look at the shooting numbers, I’m sure there’s going to be some shots that we like and say they didn’t go in.”
Purdue came into this game averaging 77.8 points per contest while shooting 45.2% from the field. Indiana held them to 48 and 32%, respectively.
The Boilers averaged 14.5 assists per game, but were held to just seven on the night.
This was an elite defensive performance.
To be sure, Carsen Edwards had an off night. But most of that was a result of Indiana’s defense which stayed in front of him the entire game, forcing challenged shots. Indiana managed to hold him to 10 of 42 from the field in both games this year, and yet still lost both contests.
With Indiana hedging effectively on screens and flashing help on perimeter shooters, this was much more about a team approach than the play of any individual. Indiana also managed to protect against the slips to the basket that hurt them in the first game against the Boilers.
Miller liked what he saw:
“I thought our perimeter guys were really sticky in terms of off the ball. It’s one thing to be on the ball when you guard him. It’s another thing when he’s running off so many actions and screens to be detailed. He got free a few times, and I thought Cline got free few times, as well, but for the most part our guys had in check in terms of how hard you were going to have to play to keep him off of his normal rhythm, and he took some challenged ones.
But I thought our team approach and also thought some individual guys did a really good job.”
It isn’t saying much at this point, but Indiana can win some games with this kind of defensive effort.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score and specialty stats
- Archie Miller and IU players post-game
- Matt Painter post-game
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (C+) The numbers don’t look good, but there was no doubting the effort. The shots weren’t falling but Morgan’s energy led the way. If ever you wanted to see someone make a game-winning three pointer, it was Morgan — but it wasn’t to be.
- De’Ron Davis* (B) Playing his most extensive minutes of the season, Davis was solid in this one and continues to be an asset for this team. Davis used his physical presence in the paint to make things difficult for Purdue’s talented big men. His tip in gave IU a long awaited 38-37 lead. His post catches were too far away from the basket to give him consistent opportunities to score.
- Romeo Langford* (B) Purdue was almost singularly focused on him at times, with double teams even out on the perimeter. After throwing up at halftime, Langford missed several minutes of the second segment and then attempted no shots the rest of the way while drawing seven fouls. With so much attention focused on him, there just has to be other ways for this team to score.
- Rob Phinisee* (C+) The freshman point guard hit a big early three-pointer to get things going, but that was about it as his challenges scoring the ball continue. Overall, this game was a step in the right direction. He took on the Edwards assignment at times and held up.
- Al Durham* (C) With Durham taking shots early in the shot clock now on a regular basis, it seems clear that IU has decided that he needs to be that guy in their offense. At 1 for 8 from the field, it just isn’t clear if he is. On the other end of the floor, Durham was exceptional on Edwards. His night personified the night for Indiana.
- Devonte Green (D+) There were just too many moments where Green needed to slow down and make the easy play. He really feels like the X factor for this team right now. With three blocks and a steal, he was strong on the defensive end. But when Green is knocking down shots and playing within himself, everything else comes together. He didn’t have it against Purdue.
- Justin Smith (D) Smith’s energy was good, and that resulted in a few more rebounds, but the turnovers and offensive limitations continue to be a major factor.
- Zach McRoberts (B+) It was just 12 minutes, but you knew when McRoberts was on the floor — and that’s his trademark — making an impact in multiple ways. Miller indicated that his senior co-captain’s foot is still bothering him, but he was good enough to make several noticeable hustle plays, and McRoberts knocked down a big three-pointer.
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