Film Session: Minnesota

In Indiana’s narrow loss to the Golden Gophers on Wednesday night, the Hoosiers trailed for the first 10 minutes of the second half before taking the lead and holding onto it until the last minute of the contest.

We’ll look at how Minnesota built an advantage early in the half — and how James Blackmon Jr. aided the Hoosiers during their lead — in the latest edition of Film Session:

After a Josh Newkirk make, Nate Mason gets the ball on the inbounds:

We can already see this one taking shape. Amir Coffey is streaking down the right side of the court unchecked. De’Ron Davis points it out:

Mason threads a slick pass between Thomas Bryant and Zach McRoberts to Coffey:

He catches:

And scores at the basket for two points to put Minnesota up seven:

Indiana typically likes to get out and run off of a make, but this was an example of Minnesota doing just that:

Notebook: Late mistakes prove costly for IU in narrow loss at Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – Indiana certainly had chances on Wednesday night at Williams Arena, but an inability to get stops down the stretch did Indiana in once again in a 75-74 loss to Minnesota.

All the early momentum was with Indiana. Tom Crean made significant adjustments to his starting lineup, inserting De’Ron Davis and Devonte Green in place of Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson.

Davis couldn’t stay on the floor in the first half, picking up three fouls in three minutes. Thomas Bryant and Johnson both ended the half without a single point.

Blackmon and Josh Newkirk were the only two effective Hoosiers during the stretch, combining to score 21 of their 29 points.

Minnesota couldn’t buy a basket, hitting on just three of their first 20 shots. The Williams Arena crowd was furious with the officiating, and so was coach Richard Pitino, who received a technical and threw his sportcoat into the bench less than two minutes into the game (Pitino later said he was yelling instructions to Reggie Lynch, but the officials disagreed).

The first 10 minutes of this one were hard to watch. Minnesota and Indiana combined for 14 turnovers, nine fouls, shot 8-32 from the floor, and compiled just four assists.

Neither team was playing remotely well, but Indiana had an early lead. That’s a luxury the Hoosiers haven’t had since their triple overtime win over Penn State two weeks ago.

Minnesota led by four at the half, but the Hoosiers quickly regained the lead.

Blackmon continued to play in rhythm and shoot with confidence, and Juwan Morgan had his best performance since suffering a left foot injury after colliding with an official in the Rutgers game.

After Indiana found themselves leading by five, up 69-64 with 2:26 to play, the defense relented, the offense settled for difficult shots, players committed costly fouls at inopportune times, and the team succumbed to the pressure during a nail-biting finish.

This game was there for the taking. Once Indiana’s lead dissipated, the final 92 seconds were a back and forth affair, with the teams trading baskets, key players fouling out, and every play proving critical.

All Indiana needed was one stop. Two Bryant free-throws with 17 seconds remaining allowed Indiana to retake the lead.

Out of a Minnesota timeout, the Gophers were, according to Pitino, supposed to run a ball screen for Amir Coffey. The play fell apart within seconds, as Jordan Murphy forgot to set the screen. Akeem Springs, who had hit just a single shot all night, was forced to settle for a tough attempt near the corner.

There wasn’t much doubt Springs was going to miss. All Indiana had to do was grab the rebound, and they would have their first win in two weeks.

But it didn’t happen. All five Hoosiers on the court were caught ball watching, and Springs, who had only grabbed six offensive boards in Big Ten play going into the game, came down with a critical one and banked home the game-winner (it was Murphy that was credited with the board, but Springs’ effort put him in position to grab the loose ball).

“He kept missing all day, so it’s nice that he assumed he’d miss another one and chased down the offensive rebound,” Pitino said of Springs.

The Hoosiers had out-rebounded Minnesota throughout the game, but when they needed one most, they couldn’t come down with it.

A season that started with so much promise now looks to be past its breaking point. Indiana, having lost four straight and six of the last seven, must win out to finish the conference season .500.

“I’m betting on myself, to be honest with you,” Crean said. “And I’m betting on my staff. Because we believe in them. As long as they don’t let things inside of their ears or inside of their eyes that dispell that, and they continue to look back at us and trust that film and trust each other the way that they have.”

Davis overcomes foul trouble

In the first half, De’Ron Davis couldn’t stay on the floor.

Davis hit the first basket of the game, and then picked up two fouls over the next two minutes.

When Crean inserted him back into the game seven minutes later, it only took Davis 48 seconds to pick up his third.

After Davis was charged with a fourth personal before the first media timeout of the second, things looked grim for the freshman big man.

But against the size of Minnesota, the Hoosiers needed Davis. Crean gave him one final chance, and he would deliver.

In the final 12 minutes, Davis poured in seven points, grabbed four boards, and drew Reggie Lynch’s fifth foul. On a night where Bryant couldn’t get anything going offensively, the contributions of Davis gave Indiana the lift it needed.

“It’s a huge benefit (when De’Ron) is playing well,” Morgan said. “It just opens up so many different things and gives us another way to play.”

It wasn’t quite enough to give Indiana the victory, as Davis would foul out with 1:06 remaining, but for a freshman going up against one of the best defensive frontcourts in the country, it’s reason for optimism.

(Photo credit: Minnesota Athletics)

Showtime releases trailer for Perfect in ’76

Showtime Sports released the trailer for “Perfect in ’76,” a documentary that will chronicle Indiana’s perfect 1975-76 season on Thurday afternoon.

The documentary, set to debut on Friday, March 10 at 9 p.m. on Showtime, was produced by Ross Greenburg and narrated by John Mellencamp.

Here’s the trailer:

And here are some additional details on the project:

The film includes interviews with key players from the ’76 team, which won 18 Big 10 Conference games by an average of 23 points. It also reveals exclusive practice footage, photos, and audio recordings from Knight’s coaching mentors, all-time greats Red Auerbach and Pete Newell.

In the 1975 season, the Hoosiers lost just a single game when they were eliminated in the “Elite Eight” of the national championship tournament, losing by just two points to the University of Kentucky. Knight began the ’76 season stating to his team, “Your goal is not winning the Big 10 Championship. It’s not winning the National Championship, but going through the entire season, from first game to NCAA Championship game, undefeated.”

Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss at Minnesota

Indiana dropped its fourth straight on Wednesday night as the Hoosiers fell 75-74 to Minnesota at Williams Arena. The Hoosiers are now 15-12 overall and 5-9 in Big Ten play.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the loss to Gophers:

· Another close loss: Another close game, another close loss for Indiana. The Hoosiers are now 1-5 in Big Ten games decided by five points or less.

This loss, like many before it, came because of Indiana’s inability to make simple plays late. James Blackmon Jr. had a costly turnover with just over a minute to play that turned into two Jordan Murphy free throws and a Minnesota lead.

And in the game’s closing seconds, Indiana forced Akeem Springs into a tough shot from the corner. Indiana could have wrapped up the win with a defensive rebound. But the Hoosiers didn’t block out, Springs grabbed his missed shot and scored with 3.2 seconds left to lift the Gophers to a one-point win.

It’s a tough loss for Indiana to swallow given how well it played for much of the second half and how badly it needed a win.

· Indiana’s offense is cratering: Indiana’s offense was once a great strength. That is no longer the case. For the fifth time in six games, Indiana didn’t reach the one point per possession mark.

The Hoosiers finished at .98 points per trip and needed 45 second half points to get there.

Thursday’s performance, from an effective field goal percentage perspective, was Indiana’s worst since the December 31 loss to Louisville at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

So what’s wrong with the offense? Besides the turnovers, Indiana has stopped making 3s. Since hitting 11 3-pointers against Michigan State last month, the Hoosiers are just 47-of-145 from behind the arc for 32.4 percent. Indiana was just 7-of-27 on 3s (25.7 percent) on Thursday.

· No answer for Nate Mason: Minnesota junior guard Nate Mason has been terrific for most of this season and on Thursday, Indiana had no answer for his offensive barrage.

Mason’s 30 points were one shy of his career-high. He scored at the rim, from behind the 3-point line and was 11-of-12 from the free throw line. At one point, Mason even barked at the Indiana bench, which didn’t seem to be well received on the Hoosier sideline.

“Nate Mason was as good as it gets,” Minnesota coach Richard Pitino said. “He was playing with unbelievable confidence. Especially in that first half, he was unstoppable. He saved us because our offense was not clicking.”

· Free throw differential, points off of turnovers: When you take a close examination of Indiana’s Big Ten losses, there are two significant themes.

The first is the points off of turnovers differential. In nine conference losses, Indiana has been outscored by 87 points off of turnovers. Thursday was just a four-point differential, but in a one possession game, it certainly mattered.

Being outscored at the free throw line is another major issue as IU has now been outscored by 53 points on free throws in nine league losses. Thursday’s differential was six points.

Through 14 Big Ten games, Indiana is 12th in the league in turnover percentage and last in opponent free throw rate.

· Indiana is now in danger of missing the postseason altogether: The NCAA tournament isn’t going to happen for Indiana unless it wins the Big Ten tournament, but could the Hoosiers miss the NIT, too?

If this slide continues, the Hoosiers could miss postseason play completely for the second time in four seasons.

Three of Indiana’s remaining games are on the road, where the Hoosiers are 1-6 this season. The remaining home game is against Northwestern, which has plenty to play for in terms of NCAA tournament seeding. And Indiana hasn’t been good at home recently with consecutive losses to Purdue and Michigan.

After a 10-2 start and wins over Kansas and North Carolina, it’s hard to fathom the Hoosiers not making the postseason at all, but as the losses build, it’s becoming a real possibility.

(Photo credit: Minnesota athletics)

Video: Minnesota players react to win over Indiana

MINNEAPOLIS – Nate Mason, Akeem Springs and Jordan Murphy met with the media following Minnesota’s 75-74 win over Indiana on Wednesday night at Williams Arena.

Watch his postgame comments below (video courtesy of BTN):

The Minute After: Minnesota

Thoughts on a 75-74 loss to Minnesota:

Tom Crean tried a new starting lineup, inserting De’Ron Davis for Juwan Morgan and Devonte Green for Robert Johnson. He had a quicker hook for players committing bad turnovers. He stomped the sidelines with a fervor.

But in the end, his team, despite putting itself in position to win down the stretch, fell short once again — an offensive rebounding opportunity landing just right for the Golden Gophers to put them up a point with three ticks to go. A James Blackmon Jr. buzzer-beating 3-pointer saved the game for Indiana a month ago in State College.

Tonight he couldn’t hit as time expired.

The Hoosiers are now losers of four straight and sit at just 5-9 in league play. They’re in 11th place in the Big Ten.

Despite this team’s shortcomings and where the season’s been heading, there was still a proper energy and effort that was noticeable tonight. This team hasn’t given up. And that’s what makes the loss a little tougher to swallow.

“These guys came to play, without a doubt,” Tom Crean said on radio after the game.

Indiana had a forgettable first half. When the Hoosiers weren’t turning it over (23.5 TO%), they failed to hit shots (33.8 eFG%) and entered half scoring just .76 points per possession. But Minnesota’s splits in those categories weren’t much better — 20.9 TO%, 35.3 eFG%, .86 PPP — so the Golden Gophers held just a four-point advantage at half. It was an ugly 20 minutes of basketball.

Indiana got down by nine early in the second half, but kept fighting and battling. James Blackmon Jr. had a return to form tonight, hitting some key buckets over the final 20 minutes on his way to a team-high 22 points. De’Ron Davis, who got the start tonight, found himself in foul trouble all evening. But he was able to get it going during a stretch in the second half as well to help keep the Hoosiers in good position to win, scoring on back-to-back possessions to put them up five with 2:26 to go. In just nine minutes of play, Davis scored 10 points, grabbed five rebounds and recorded one block.

Thomas Bryant had a rough night offensively (3-of-14), but scored four huge points in the final minute of action. Juwan Morgan looked healthier on his way to 14 points and seven rebounds.

Indiana committed just four turnovers all second half until Blackmon Jr. turned it over trying to feed Bryant on a tough angle with 1:11 to go. Eric Curry’s steal of that pass led to Davis’ fifth foul on the other end against Jordan Murphy. His two free throws put Minnesota up 71-70 with just over a minute to go, its first lead since the 10:08 mark of the second half.

Bad play at a bad time.

From there, the Hoosiers and Golden Gophers traded the lead twice over the final minute of action, it all culminating with the Akeem Springs putback and the Blackmon Jr. miss.

This game was right there for the Hoosiers to win, but it slipped through their finger tips, yet another loss in a season gone wrong.

Indiana gets some more time than usual to recover from this one as it doesn’t play Iowa until Tuesday. It’s another road game the Hoosiers have a chance to win. But as this season’s proved, nothing comes easy for this group.

(Photo credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Video: Tom Crean reacts to loss at Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 75-74 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday evening at Williams Arena.

Watch his postgame comments below:

Video: IU players reacts to loss at Minnesota

MINNEAPOLIS – Juwan Morgan and James Blackmon Jr. met with the media following Indiana’s 75-74 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday night at Williams Arena.

Watch their postgame comments below:

At the Buzzer: Minnesota 75, Indiana 74

Quick thoughts on a 75-74 loss to Minnesota:

How it happened: This one was there for the taking for Indiana. After a rough start for Minnesota, the Hoosiers had chances to build a comfortable lead early and led by as many as 10 with 7:24 to play in the first half. The Gophers responded with a 21-7 run to close out the half and led by four at the break. It looked as if things would go in the wrong direction early in the second half as Minnesota built a nine-point lead at the 16:35 mark. But Indiana never caved and the Hoosiers mounted a run. Indiana led by as many as five in the final four minutes, but could never create more separation. The opportunistic Gophers struck late as Akeem Springs missed a desperation 3-pointer but grabbed the rebound and hit a layup to lift Minnesota to its seventh Big Ten win. The loss was Indiana’s fourth straight and ninth in league play.

Standout performer: De’Ron Davis finished with 10 points and five rebounds in just nine minutes before fouling out and James Blackmon Jr. had 22 points on 7-of-17 shooting. Blackmon Jr. also had six rebounds.

Statistic that stands out: Indiana was outscored by six at the free throw line and by four on points off of turnovers. Both areas have been issues all season for the Hoosiers and in a narrow loss, are once again worth a mention.

Final IU individual stats:

Final tempo-free stats:

(Photo credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports)

Durham, Moore and Smith to play in Derby Festival Basketball Classic

Class of 2017 Indiana signees Al Durham, Clifton Moore and Justin Smith will play in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall in Louisville on Saturday, April 15.

Complete rosters have not been finalized, but all three IU signees will participate in the basketball classic as well as the Night of Future Stars on Friday, April 14 at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany.

The full release issued by the Kentucky Derby Festival press office is available below:

February 15, 2017. Louisville, KY. – Tickets for the 45th annual Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic presented by Papa John’s go on sale tomorrow Friday, February 17. The high school all-star game will feature the next class of Cards, Cats and Hoosiers. The game is set for Saturday, April 15, at Freedom Hall. This year’s roster includes University of Louisville signees Malik Williams, Darius Perry, Lance Thomas and Jordan Nwora; UK signee Shai Gilgeous-Alexander; and IU signees Aljami Durham, Clifton Moore, Jr. and Justin Smith. The remainder of the roster will be Top 50 rated recruits from the Nation’s top college basketball programs and will released in the coming weeks.

“We are excited to announce that a University of Kentucky recruit will be joining both UL and IU’s entire recruiting classes in this year’s game,” said Keith Conrad, the event’s recruiting chair. “It will be great to have all three fan bases back in Freedom Hall supporting their newest additions. Cardinal fans should be ecstatic to see what Coach Pitino has labeled as the most talented recruiting class he has assembled during his tenure at the University of Louisville.”

Tickets, which cost $18 in advance ($20 at the door) and $50 for VIP Courtside seating, go on sale February 17, and are available for purchase online at www.ticketmaster.com and by phone through TicketMaster at (800) 745-3000. Tickets for the game and 2017 Pegasus Pins will allow for free admission to the Horseshoe Foundation Derby Festival Night of the Future Stars, which will be held on Friday, April 14, at Indiana University Southeast.

The Basketball Classic is presented by Papa John’s, with Contributing Sponsor Horseshoe Foundation of Floyd County. Media Sponsors are 99.7 DJX, B96.5 FM, and SLAM Magazine. Supporting Sponsor: Dick’s Sporting Goods.

First held in 1973, the Kentucky Derby Festival Basketball Classic has featured such players as Jamal Mashburn, Moses Malone, Rex Chapman, Pervis Ellison, Isiah Thomas, Dominique Wilkins, Darrell Griffith, Derek Anderson, Anfernee Hardaway and Michael Beasley, among many others.