Playing in their first game in over a week, Indiana had some eerily similar moments to their win over Notre Dame last Saturday.
But this time there was no miraculous finish as the Hoosiers closed out 2019 with a 71-64 loss to Arkansas in their final nonconference game of the season.
After a back-and-forth opening half against the Razorbacks, Indiana seemed to have found their rhythm early in the second period. IU went up by as many as 11 points at 50-39 with just over 16 minutes remaining. The Hoosiers looked like they might cruise to victory and remain undefeated on their home floor this season.
Just like last weekend against the Irish, Arkansas had other ideas on Sunday night.
Unlike Notre Dame, the Razorbacks were able to finish what they started.
Aided by sophomore guard Isaiah Joe and his hot hand from distance, the Razorbacks battled their way back to secure an impressive road victory.
After shooting 12-of-35 from the field overall and 4-of-14 from distance in the first half, Arkansas shot 13-of-27 from the field and 8-of-17 from three-point range in the second period.
Central to the Razorback comeback was 24 points from Joe and another 21 points from junior guard Mason Jones. The pair had 18 and 15, respectively, in the second half.
“It’s a similar feel to me as the Notre Dame game where our offense kind of leaves us, our defense kind of caves in a little bit transition-wise, or off some runs, we give them some 3s, and next thing you’re in a hole,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said after the game. “We were in a similar hole a week ago, came through, tonight we didn’t.”
The difference on this night seemed to be Arkansas’ ability to knock down timely shots from long range, something IU was able to avoid in earlier nonconference games against high major opponents.
IU held UConn to 54 points on 41.2 percent shooting from the field and 28.6 percent from deep. Similarly, Notre Dame was held to 60 points on 37.5 percent shooting from the field and 22.2 percent from three=point range.
Arkansas shot 47 percent from long range, and several timely three-pointers from Joe and Jones fueled their 32-14 run to close out the game.
The Razorbacks’ ability to get looks from distance went against Indiana’s game plan.
“One of the things talked a lot about was make them put the ball on the floor inside the line, whether you’re switching the ball screen or closing out,” Miller said. “One of the things this team is you want them to shoot 2s, especially Jones and Isaiah Joe, those guys work the two-man game for like three, four minutes on a simple pick-and-pop with two guys.”
INSIDE THE NUMBERS
Indiana won the rebounding battle 41-35, but with the Hoosiers’ significant size advantage, that is a margin that the Razorbacks likely would have taken coming into the game.
For the game, IU took just 18 attempts from the foul line, and made only 9. Both numbers are well short of their season averages.
Indiana shot a better percentage overall from the field (42.4 vs. 40.3 percent) than Arkansas, but made just 5-of-21 (23.8 percent) from three-point range.
IU had two players in double figures for the game. Trayce Jackson-Davis led the way with 20 points and chipped in 6 rebounds, while Devonte Green finished with 14 points.
Junior guard Al Durham only played five minutes tonight before receiving a flagrant-two foul for elbowing an Arkansas player in the face. Durham is IU’s fourth-leading scorer averaging 12.2 points per game.
Indiana travels to the XFINITY Center for a Big Ten conference matchup with No. 13 Maryland. The game tips off at 12 p.m. ET on Saturday, January 4.
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