Thoughts on a 81-62 loss at Rupp Arena:
Oh, what could have been.
For 30 minutes or so, the Hoosiers were not just in this thing — they were primed for an upset. Tom Crean paced the sidelines with a fervor we’ve yet to see this season. His offense, one that’s often 3-point heavy, was getting buckets off sharp cuts to the rim and crisp passing. This is called execution.
And IU’s defense, one facing a tough test, had risen to the challenge. Kentucky was out of rhythm and shooting poorly.
When Dick Vitale told us the Hoosiers had come to Lexington believing they could win, believing they were not the underdog, we believed it too.
But when you wilt in the waning moments — and boy did the Hoosiers ever wilt — victory goes from within arm’s reach to out of sight in an instant.
These Hoosiers, as we’re learning, just aren’t there yet.
From the 9:42 mark (a Christian Watford 3-pointer) to the :38 mark (a Jeremiah Rivers layup), Indiana failed to make a basket.
Watford, who was brilliant in stretches, forced several shots. The threes weren’t falling. The defense fell apart. Kentucky got open looks from distance, and connected. Everything was moving so fast, the crowd was into it, and the Hoosiers were lost in the fog.
Kentucky ended the game on a 25-5 run, and the Hoosiers lose another one on the road because of their inability to execute and keep their cool when it matters most.
+ We know Indiana has a tendency to put teams on the line a lot, but this early evening’s game was that fact at its most grotesque: Kentucky shot 44 free throws, connecting on 31 of them for 70.5 percent — a good clip above their season average of 65.1 percent. The Hoosiers only managed to get to the line 16 times, making 12 for 75.0 percent.
+ I noted the offensive rebounding battle yesterday, and it was won decisively by the Wildcats. Kentucky scored 21 second-chance points off 18 offensive rebounds. Yes, they only shot 36.1 percent from the field (22-of-61), which allowed for several offensive rebounding opportunities. But it was one of those areas of the game where Kentucky held a distinct advantage. Indiana only managed four second-chance points and six offensive rebounds. From my rough math, the Hoosiers’ offensive rebounding percentage was only 13.9 percent, well below their season average of 38.8 percent. Kentucky’s was a very solid 36.0 percent.
Props are due to Josh Harrellson, who grabbed a third of their offensive rebounds (six) and finished the game with 14 points and 12 boards.
For a team with some talented freshmen, he may have been the biggest difference maker.
+ I hate to cut this short, but I’m going to be late for dinner reservations if I go on any longer. Plenty of stuff I missed, so have at it.
Filed to: Kentucky Wildcats