Dan Dakich summed up Indiana’s effort Saturday afternoon at the Kohl Center on the Big Ten Network’s GMC Postgame Show with a concise, direct message.
“Indiana didn’t show up,” Dakich told Dave Revsine immediately following IU’s 83-55 loss. “It was the third straight game. This time they lose by 28. Two previous games by 17. Without much energy, without much pride.”
The humiliating loss, IU’s sixth straight, dropped the Hoosiers to 9-15 overall and 3-9 in the Big Ten. And while the outcome was not unexpected, the lack of resistance Indiana showed from the opening tip was discouraging.
There was no fight. There was no determination. And perhaps most disturbing, the effort on defense was non-existent.
Indiana looked more content to lay down and take a loss than engage in a battle with Wisconsin. And the final score, the worst loss of the season, was indicative of that.
“We’re having a major confidence issue in the sense of playing through anything that is even remotely tough to us right now,” Indiana head coach Tom Crean told Don Fisher on the postgame radio show. “We’ve got to get that mojo back of that toughness that we had.”
The outcome was never in doubt as the Badgers (19-6, 9-4) led by 20 before the second television timeout and shot 53 percent in the first half.
In all, Indiana surrended 10 3-pointers to Wisconsin, led by seven from Jason Bohannon, who scored a career-high 30 points.
“We’re not keeping the dribble in front of us right now,” Crean said. “That’s why we’re trying to play some different things defensively. We’re just not really helping with a purpose. We never got off to a great start with our defense, they got a ton of confidence and we just gave up far too many open shots.”
Indiana also reverted back to early season form in the turnover department, coughing it up 21 times. Wisconsin won the battle on the glass, 33-26, and had 18 assists to just 10 turnovers. Trevon Hughes — 16 points — and Jordan Taylor — 11 points — joined Bohannon in double figures.
Christian Watford scored 15 points to lead Indiana, but shot just 4 of 12. Verdell Jones, battling flu-like symptoms, added 11 points in 33 minutes.
The first meeting between Indiana and Ohio State produced a woefully one-sided contest, 79-54, back on January 6 at Value City Arena.
Fast forward the calendar five weeks and the rematch was the same old story.
Too much Will Buford, Dallas Lauderdale and Evan Turner. No offensive cohesion. And not nearly the defensive intensity needed to be competitive.
The result: A fifth straight loss for Indiana – 69-52 – dropping the Hoosiers to 9-14 overall and 3-8 in the Big Ten.
“It was pathetic in a lot of ways,” Tom Crean told Don Fisher on the postgame radio show. “It was pathetic defensively. It’s inexcusable, but I don’t have a lot of avenues to go right now in the sense of making different decisions. But we will and we’ll be able to correct it and fix it as we move along.”
Through the first 12-plus minutes, Indiana looked like it might make a game of it. With Turner on the bench with two fouls, the Hoosiers were within one at 18-17.
Ohio State responded with a 16-3 run the last 7:48 of the half to grab a 34-20 halftime lead. And the Hoosiers never got within 12 the rest of the way.
“The margin for error against teams like that are so poor for us, but we don’t have any chance when we don’t play harder than that,” Crean said.
Buford finished with a game-high 21 points, Lauderdale added 14 points and eight rebounds and Turner, the front runner for Big Ten Player of the Year, had 10 points, seven rebounds and six assists in 21 minutes.
It was the eighth straight Big Ten win for Ohio State, moving the Buckeyes into a tie for first place.
Indiana, which shot just 37 percent from the field, got 15 points and seven rebounds from Christian Watford and 13 points from Jordan Hulls.
You could call it hot shooting by Northwestern. Or you could call it poor defense by Indiana. Maybe it was a little bit of both on Super Bowl Sunday in Welsh-Ryan Arena.
But when the dust settled, Indiana looked nothing like the team that had just taken Illinois and Purdue to the wire in a pair of hard-fought losses.
And Northwestern, which inched closer to the .500 mark in conference play, looked like a team poised to work its way back into the NCAA Tournament conversation with a convincing 78-61 win over the Hoosiers.
“We just don’t have a toughness about us that’s there everyday,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told Don Fisher on the postgame radio show. “We didn’t come with a street fight mentality at the beginning of the game at all.”
The Wildcats (16-8, 5-6 Big Ten) jumped out to a 10-2 lead, hit 10 of 25 from behind the 3-point line, shot 52 percent from the field and were never really challenged by Indiana.
All five starters for Bill Carmody’s team, which had 21 assists and just 10 turnovers, scored in double figures, led by 16 from John Shurna. The 6-8 sophomore hit five 3-pointers and had six assists, five rebounds and three blocks. Luka Mirkovic added 14 points and Jeremy Nash had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
“We did not come out with the mentality that we were going to get into these guys,” Crean said. “The bottom line was that we had to defend the 3-point line. We had to pressure up, they’ve shot 100 more three’s than us. There’s a reason for that. We did not have the fight in us at the beginning that you need to get started and then you’re playing in an uphill battle the entire game.”
The one bright spot for Indiana (9-13, 3-7) was Verdell Jones. The sophomore guard turned in his best scoring effort yet as a Hoosier with 28 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Jones hit 12-of-13 free throws for his seventh game of 20+ points this season.
“He’s continued to get better. We’ve got to continue to find different ways to get him the ball,” Crean said. “Verdell is certainly getting a lot of things done.”
The Hoosiers had a season-low eight turnovers, but shot just 35 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 20 in the second half.
Up next: Ohio State at Assembly Hall on Wednesday. The 6:30 tip will be shown on the Big Ten Network.
Bloomington, Ind. — Assembly Hall reached perhaps its highest decibel level of the season at the 5:44 mark of the second half. The Hoosiers had just taken a 69-66 lead over Purdue on a Jordan Hulls 3-pointer.
Indiana had scored eight straight points. Matt Painter called for a timeout.
But what happened after that point will be incredibly tough for this Indiana team to swallow.
Indiana missed the front end of three one-and-ones. And the No. 8 Boilermakers, led by Robbie Hummel, played like a veteran team coming together at the right time in a 78-75 win, their fifth straight.
Verdell Jones scored a game-high 22 points to lead the Hoosiers (9-12, 3-6 Big Ten) and Tom Pritchard added 13 points and five rebounds.
For now, I’m headed to the media room to listen to Matt Painter and Tom Crean address the media. Ryan will chime in with The Minute After soon and I’ll have some postgame audio and video later.
A little over one year ago, I piled into a car with Matt Dollinger and Tom Kirby and headed west to Spaceship Assembly Hall for IU’s first post-Eric Gordon trip to Urbana-Champaign. Less than nine minutes later, Dollinger was begging me to go pull the car around.
I bring that up, because many of you have, at various points this season, asked for more visible improvement from the Indiana basketball team than what you’ve seen so far.
Well, I offer you this: Just 385 days after a 24-4 game-opening run begat a 76-45 pasting at the hands of the Illini, Indiana took what some considered an NCAA Tournament team inside the game’s last second — literally — before succumbing by just two points, 72-70 in one of the Big Ten’s toughest road environments.
No, this isn’t a moral victory. Moral victories are stupid. Really stupid. Annoyingly stupid. This was a loss, and surely a tough one to absorb.
But if you don’t look at this game and see the obvious improvement, then your eyes are closed.
After two confidence-building conference wins, Indiana entered Sunday’s game at Assembly Hall with Iowa with an opportunity to move above .500 and into a tie for third place in the conference.
But when the dust settled, the Hoosiers (9-10, 3-4 Big Ten) looked nothing like the team that had just knocked off Minnesota in overtime or the team that won its first road game at Penn State on Thursday.
The result? A head-scratching 58-43 loss to Iowa.
“We didn’t have the same toughness level as Iowa had,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “And that’s the bottom line. There was a 15-round fight that every Big Ten game is and we decided we weren’t going to be in that fight.”
From the outset, Indiana’s effort, particularly on the glass, left plenty to be desired. The Hoosiers allowed the Hawkeyes (8-12, 2-5) to grab 18 offensive rebounds and score 20 second-chance points. In all, Indiana was beaten badly on the boards, 39-23.
“That was one of the softest low-post performances I’ve ever been apart of,” Crean said. “And I apologize to our fans. I apologize to everybody that made a great attempt to be here based on the fact that the Colts were playing. That’s not who we’re gonna be.”
After trailing 28-19 at halftime, Indiana opened the half on a 12-5 run and got within two at 33-31 with 13:23 remaining. Iowa responded with a 7-0 run of its own and the Hoosiers never got closer than eight the rest of the way.
Aaron Fuller led three Hawkeyes in double figures with 13 points. Jarryd Cole added 11 points and 10 rebounds and Brennan Cougill had 10.
For Indiana, Verdell Jones led the way with 14 points, but pulled down just one rebound. IU’s three starting guards combined for a total of just two rebounds in 87 minutes.
“When our guards don’t rebound, we do not play very well,” Crean said. “We just can’t win that way.”
No points from behind the arc: For the first time since facing Wisconsin in the 2001 Big Ten Tournament, Indiana failed to make a 3-pointer. The Hoosiers finished 0-for-9.
Assist-to-turnover ratio not pretty: Indiana committed 16 turnovers and had a season-low three assists. Crean attributed that to screening, or a lack thereof. “Our screening was atrocious. That’s what that is more than anything else.”
Winning on the road is never easy. It’s made even tougher when the only player on your roster that’s experienced a conference road win is a walk-on named Brett Finkelmeier.
But in what will be looked at down the road as a valuable learning experience for this rebuilding Indiana program, the Hoosiers went to Penn State Thursday night and left with a 67-61 victory. Even more impressive was this: Indiana never trailed en route to victory.
“They’re gaining conference,” Indiana coach Tom Crean told Don Fischer on the postgame radio show. “If you don’t have a win like Minnesota, the way that we won it, maybe they don’t feel like they can win this one. We held on. We got big stops. We attacked in press offense.”
The Hoosiers (9-9, 3-3 Big Ten) hit 9-of-20 from behind the 3-point arc, 10-of-14 free throws and committed just 12 turnovers to 15 assists. Devan Dumes, IU’s leading scorer last season, had a season-high 15 points.
“He really, really stepped up,” Crean said of Dumes. “I’m really proud of the way that he played. He made some big plays in 26 minutes of basketball. He answered the challenge of Talor Battle when Jeremiah (Rivers) had some foul trouble.”
After Indiana led 35-28 at halftime, Penn State (8-10, 0-6) opened the second half with a 12-5 run to tie the game at 40 with 13:44 remaining.
But unlike previous road games at Ohio State and Michigan where the Hoosiers had lengthy scoring droughts, Thursday was different: Indiana immediately answered with six straight points.
Penn State, which shot just 37 percent and got little offense besides 22 points from Battle, never got closer than three the rest of the way.
“Again tonight just like Minnesota, we went and earned the game,” Crean said. “We never lost the lead and that’s the key. We never had to play comeback on it. They bought into the fact that it’s not about running good offense, it’s about executing good offense.”
Verdell Jones had another game in double figures with 14 points, four rebounds and four assists and Christian Watford added 11 points and nine rebounds.