The Minute After: Minnesota

  • 01/30/2016 5:22 pm in

Thoughts on a 74-68 survival against the Golden Gophers: 

After falling in the hole 7-0 out the gate, Indiana crawled out of it and led by 12 at half (39-27). The Hoosiers have been brilliant at home so far in conference play, embarrassing their last three opponents in Assembly Hall on the strength of strong 3-point shooting.

So to be up by double digits after shooting just 1-of-10 from beyond the arc seemed to be a good sign. If the Hoosiers trended more towards makes than the misses in the second half, they figured to comfortably put this one away with plenty of time remaining in the game. As it stood, their zone had completely shut down Minnesota in the first half (.74 points per possession). Simply keep up the solid defense, hit some 3-pointers and cruise to victory.

But it didn’t go that way. Far from it. The Hoosiers lost their double-digit lead and even trailed by one with under four minutes to play. But in the end, Indiana found a way to survive late and escape with their eighth conference victory despite a scare of epic proportions.

Start here: Indiana’s defense completely reversed course in the second half. Tom Crean moved the Hoosiers out of a zone into man and Minnesota broke them down. It felt like November all over again. The Golden Gophers scored 30 of their 41 second half points in the paint as Nate Mason (21 points) and Kevin Dorsey (21 points) used their quickness against IU’s spread out defense to drive and score almost at will. Beyond the half court breakdowns, Indiana also did a poor job in transition in the second half, as the Hoosiers gave up 16 points to Minnesota on the fast break.

While for the game Indiana still held Minnesota to under a point per possession (.97) making it the eighth time in nine conference games it’s done that, this performance deserves a bit of an asterisk due to the second half defensive issues.

On offense, Indiana was not itself. After that 1-of-10 performance in the first half from distance, the second half wasn’t any kinder (1-of-8). Add it up and the Hoosiers hit just 2-of-18 from beyond the arc (12.5 percent). It’s possible this may be their worst performance of the season in that regard.

So with the defense floundering, the 3-pointers not falling and Yogi Ferrell having an off game to boot (2-of-9), Indiana found salvation at the free throw line and in freshman Thomas Bryant. After Wisconsin bested the Hoosiers at the charity stripe by a large margin on Tuesday night, they got to the line more this afternoon. It simply hasn’t been a strength of this team, as they currently are 10th in free throw rate (FTA/FGA) in conference at 30 percent. But they bested that number (45.6) today and hit 20-of-26 by drawing fouls.

Despite his rough shooting day, Ferrell hit all eight of his attempts. Williams went 5-of-7. Nick Zeisloft rarely finds himself there, but made both his attempts. OG Anunoby hit 4-of-6. Bryant hit just 1-of-3, but more than made up for it with his career-high 23 points. Bryant went to work early and had 13 points on 6-of-8 shooting in the first half.

Bryant went to the bench with 5:49 to play and Indiana nursing a five-point lead (66-61). When he came back in with 3:11 to go, Indiana found itself down one (68-67). He went right to work again. He snagged an offensive board on a Ferrell miss. Anunoby missed later in the possession. On the other end, Bryant blocked Minnesota and picked up the defensive board. He then got in great position for an offensive rebound on a Williams missed lay-up, scored and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but Indiana was back up for good.

On Minnesota’s next possession, Bryant got the defensive board. After an Anunoby turnover trying to to get him the ball, Bryant made his presence felt again. As Minnesota’s defense fell asleep on the break when Indiana got the ball back after a Mason missed 3-pointer, Bryant ran the floor and Ferrell found him for a dunk. Four late free throws from Ferrell sealed the deal.

Crisis averted.

This was a lackluster performance from the Hoosiers. But give them credit for the W. Other versions of this team from the last couple years may have blown it completely. But Indiana remains atop the conference standings at 8-1.

But the honeymoon is over in terms of the favorable schedule. And Indiana simply can’t play like this if it’s to have any chance in Ann Arbor on Tuesday.

Filed to:

  • ihoosieru

    I can’t for the sake of me figure out Crean subbing. At the end of the one time at the end of the game he had anunoby and morgan in there with the game on the line. Wisconsin and Minnesota tonight took away IU’s open 3’s and I am sure its going to happen again and IU had better learn to shoot 3’s coming off of screens

  • MarkHoltzHoosier

    Ugly, of course. But an ugly WIN and not “one of the ones they should have won.”
    Facts:
    IU shot 26/57 for 45.6% from field, 2/18 from 3.
    Minn show 28/68 for 41.2% from field, 2/18 from 3.

    IU FTs 20/26 (76.9%)
    Minn FTs 10/17 (58.8%)

    IU +7 on Rebound margin.

    Don’t care whether playing “like this” will lose in next few games, it was enough to win today and IU is 8-1 and in first place in conference!

  • BMusic

    He had TW in there, too, when TW was being BT. And while I was kinda pulling my hair out, I also thought, “Well, Troy needs to learn how to play in situations like this.” He’s not there yet, but you have to throw him into the fire so he can learn how to handle it. Same with the other guys. I think, as a coach, you have to try to get something more out of the game than just a W.

  • Donnie Vick

    Man has worked for us a good bit so far in the BIG 10 season but not in the second half. However, give Coach Crean credit today. Down the stretch he went back to the 2-3 and that is when Bryant got the big block. I’ve been critical of Crean, but he’s doing a good job with this group…and he’s right, we do miss Blackmon. Teams are really keying in on Yogi and our 3 point shooting the last couple of games and we miss our “offensive specialist.”

  • Young Hoosier

    I’m getting tired of saying it. It is also making me think about next year and not with optimism. But once again RJ doesn’t show up. We NEED more than 3 points from him. That isn’t an acceptable game by any means. Attack the basket and get to the line. Next year’s backcourt will not be any good. We’ll be life Gonzaga of this year.

  • dwdkc

    Chalk it up to not being locked in playing a team they were convinced couldn’t beat them. It is an immature thing to do, but pretty much every team does it from time to time. They did avoid the trap against Illinois and Northwestern (I think they respected OSU). I think that explains the 2nd half defense, which looked like effort. The offensive struggles outside of the latter part of the first half is concerning, but I think that changes when a few guys see the 3 ball go through. Will take the optimistic view that we will see a return to form in Ann Arbor; after all these guys will see it as a big game and will bring the intensity at least.

  • gokartmozart89

    He had two ugly turnovers, but I thought he played well otherwise. 8 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks aren’t too shabby for a freshman coming off the bench. I don’t think the switch to man D did him or anyone else any favors.

  • gokartmozart89

    Or the Wake Forest game earlier this year. But yeah, there were several coughed up leads over the last two years

  • SCHoosier

    I guess it is about finding a way to win and the Hoosiers did. That said..I can’t see anybody left on the schedule that IU can beat (except maybe Rutgers) playing, defending and shooting like they did Sat. I expected IU to lay at least one egg during the final third of the season..didn’t think it would be at home. UM will be tough at their place..they have 6 solid guys who can nail the three in Coach’s B “shoot it anytime your open” offense. Rally ‘Round the Hoosiers!

  • SCHoosier

    Zone gave MN a little problem at first..but then those quick guards penetrated and got some easy close in Jumpers. Zone also put IU is a bad rebounding position..as did the Hoosiers bad shooting on the offensive end. A lot of those MN run outs came from long rebounds off bad IU shooting.

  • SCHoosier

    He made TO’s on two bad post entry passes..but made up for it with key rebounds and a couple of blocks.

  • SCHoosier

    Good question ..and I think that’s what triggered TC’s “we really miss Blackmon” statements post game. Nick is really struggling.and taking very quick shots. HN would play better D..and is a good shooter..but I think we gotta hope that Nick breaks thru the slump..and to do that..he’s has take reasonable shots.

  • Outoftheloop

    And you have “no rational evidence” against it! It is all opinion! Each week I see the scores of “top” teams loosing to “lesser” teams. If IU can go 5-4 in our last 5 games, that will be a B1G record of 13-5, and in the hunt for the title. (23-8 overall). OK is #1, but if Buddy Heild ever misses a big 3, they would have 2-3 more losses right now! This is a crazy season everywhere. MN doesn’t have bad players. They are just now learning how to really play hard. Next comes learning how to win the close games. Then comes learning how to win the close games on the road. It is a process. 8-1 looks good to me. Ask Izzo how 5-4 looks to him.

  • RDD#76

    Yes RJ didn’t score a lot of points but had a career high in rebounds sometimes he is to unselfish and should shoot a little more!

  • Outoftheloop

    OG seems to be able to make a mistake, learn and move on better than any frosh in my memory, including Victor! He still can’t match Victor’s “I will NOT lose” ability yet. (Nor Will’s “I am going to be in your face all night long” mindset!). But OG is terrific!

  • ForeverIU

    I understand what you’re saying. But I’m not trying to “prove” anything. I’m just saying that the evidence that is available tends more toward a prediction of losses than wins against the teams I mentioned. It doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy the games or support my team. I do more injustice toward the team if I were to have unrealistic expectations. The loss at Wisconsin tempered me, and a loss at Michigan will temper me further.

  • ForeverIU

    I’m not saying RJ shouldn’t produce more, but I’m at a loss to explain why you are always picking on him in particular. We have a starter in Collin who is averaging 5 points a game in 21 minutes of play, and a 6th man in Nick who is averaging 6 points a game in 18 minutes of play (with shooting percentages well below RJ’s). Why aren’t you picking on them too?

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    12-6 in the BIG,the upcoming schedule is brutal

  • Sherronhasaheadache

    Our second half defense looked like how we were playing earlier in the year, that is very concerning to me but we found a way to win. February is winning time and this team has a chance to win a league title. On to Michigan!

  • NC Hoosier

    I completely agree. As we sit here today, we may have 18 wins, but we have yet to beat a team that is a lock to go to the tournament. We have three losses against teams that likely will not go to the tournament. In my opinion, we haven’t proven that we are worthy of our national ranking. Beat a few of the B1G heavyweights in the next couple of weeks and I might jump on the train. Until then, I am not overly optimistic that a repeat of last year isn’t on the horizon.

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    I think it should be highly considered. He seemed to be forcing his three’s a little more today than normal. I recall a few that were not clean, set looks that came early in the shot clock..yeah I think JBJ would be a little better than him..eesh

  • Young Hoosier

    Collin doesn’t have RJ’s talent. We also have other like Max, OG, Morgan who can easily replace him. RJ has Nick behind him. That is it. We have 3 guards. I don’t expect Collin to do much of anything. RJ HAS to do something. It is his spot that lost 16 points a game. RJ can barely get to 5.

  • mharv2631

    Wasn’t as clean of a win as we all would like, but Kentucky lost so it was a pretty good day.

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    That 2014 season was just so bad. I try to block that one out of my memory.

  • Sandra Wilson

    So we should expect failure with 2 McDonald’s All-Americans on the roster and additional 4 star recruits ?….I think you’ve become too used to watching I.U. football…..Most fans don’t expect us to win out, but there’s no excuse for losing 5 or 6 more games with this talent……Do you really think UM, Iowa, MSU, or Purdue have more talent?….Ridiculous assumptions or maybe just advanced excuse making…..2 or 3 loses maybe…..5 or 6 is unacceptable.

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    At Nebraska, home against Wisc, and at Minn/home Minn would have been games that we would have mostly likely lost last year, but we have found ways to win. Yogi and TB are gamers. We certainly have a long ways to go, but I think our execution at the critical points in games is much better than it was earlier against WF and UNLV…

  • ForeverIU

    Hey there Nurse Ratched. Lol. I said nothing about “acceptable”. I said given our resume so far 5-6 losses is what I am expecting.

  • BL

    Statistically you’d think at some point he’d go on a run. On the other hand, maybe BIG defenses have just decided they are not going to lose him and give him clean looks. He’s not threatening with the dribble drive so running him off the 3-point line isn’t that difficult. Worst case, feel like TC needs to shorten the leash.

  • ForeverIU

    And for some perspective. We haven’t played a single game against the four B1G teams that are ranked above us (by kenpom, and ranked well above us). In the second half of our schedule we play 5 games against them. Purdue at 12, Maryland at 10, MSU at 6, and Iowa at 2! I’m looking forward to the challenge, but not losing my head in the process.

  • Missing Moye

    I’m sorry, but that’s just an awful argument. Firstly, I don’t think it’s some forgone conclusion that RJ is way more talented than Hartman. Secondly, it’s unreasonable to expect more from a player just because we are thinner at the position than another.

    It seems to me that your expectations of RJ are unreasonably high and you are destined to be let down game after game. I am allowed to expect Tim Priller to come in and average 37 pts per game if I want to, but when he doesn’t do it, is that really HIS fault?

  • Ole Man

    Woodbury will poke him in the eye!

  • ForeverIU

    LOL. God forbid!

  • Young Hoosier

    No they aren’t unreasonably high. RJ should be averaging at 10 ppg. And yes it is a forgone conclusion that RJ is way more talented than Collin. Everyone should be expecting more from him. Not just coddling him because he’s the “Golden Child so don’t talk bad about him.” When JBJ went down there was one person that needed to step up. That was RJ. Not Yogi, not Troy, not Bryant. It was RJ. And he has wilted under that pressure. Which is not a good sign looming to next year if he ends up being our “best guard.”

  • Missing Moye

    Not sure why you continue to go with “the Golden Child” but it makes you sound completely ridiculous and makes it tough to take anything you say seriously. I’ll chalk this one up as being my fault for trying to converse with you. It won’t happen again.

  • Young Hoosier

    He’s the Golden Child because you aren’t allowed to talk bad about him.

  • BL

    Agree and freshman are gaining more valuable experience every game.