Notes on an 88-76 loss to the Eagles:
Well, despite the double-digit loss, there were at least some positives tonight, eh?
Sure, the Hoosiers came out flat in the first half — running their Verdell Jones-only offense we’ve seen from time to time when they get stagnant. And in an atypical performance, Indiana was out-hustled for many 50-50 balls and long rebounds on BC’s end — or maybe they were just in the wrong place? — which gave the Eagles 13 second-chance points. Add in a weak first-half shooting performance — 39.3 percent from the field (11-28) and 22.2 percent from three (2-of-9) — along with seven turnovers (which BC converted into seven points) and the Hoosiers found themselves down 14 at half: 43-29.
It was their first road game of the season. We may not have liked it. But it wasn’t a shock.
Yet, as we’ve seen from these Hoosiers on a few occasions so far this season, they tightened up their D in the second half (for a while, anyway), shared the ball much better and played with a lot more confidence. Jordan Hulls was hitting pull-up jumpers. Christian Watford put on a show inside, mid-range and long-range. Victor Oladipo had a spirited dunk. Creek, despite some bad misses, hit when he needed to.
What was once a 14-point halftime deficit whittled down to one twice (60-59 with 7:22 to go; 63-62 with 5:44 to go).
And then the wheels came off.
Over the last 5:44 of the contest, Boston College went 3-of-3 from 3-point land — they were 6-of-12 for the second half, for those wondering — 3-of-4 from the field and 10-of-12 from the free-throw line … with no turnovers.
That’s a veteran team closing out the ballgame right there. IU tried to stay in it with some late threes, but two turnovers over that same stretch costed them a few chances to try and keep this thing close.
If this was last season, the Hoosiers would have continued to get steamrolled in the second half. But this team is older, wiser and more confident. It was nice to see them get after it in the second half.
They’re just not all the way there yet.
A few other assorted thoughts:
+ The Hoosiers continue to send their opponents to the line at a high rate. But this time there was at least a caveat. As noted above, Boston College shot 12 free throws late in the game — all in the final 1:33, in fact — as Indiana tried fouling to get back in this one. For the night, BC was 22-of-28. It was a solid performance for a team that entered the contest shooting 77.8 percent from the line — good for second in the ACC.
+ Indiana’s defense was simply not as good as we’ve seen in the previous six contests. BC shot 50.9 percent from the floor (28-of-55) and 41.7 percent from three (10-of-24) for an effective field-goal percentage of 60.0 percent. Add in that this BC team hit their free throws and took care of the ball (only six turnovers) and that’s how this ballgame was won.
The Hoosiers simply can’t allow 88 points and expect to win most games.
+ Praise be to Watford. The kid continues to get to the line at a strong rate and is really starting to use his muscle. With a little over seven minutes to go in the first half, Watford took the ball off the wing, drove to the rim and threw it down for a dunk.
Might have been his strongest move ever in an Indiana uniform.
Watford finished the contest with 23 points (7-of-12 from the field; 2-of-3 from three; 7-of-9 from the line), three steals, one block … but only two boards.