Thoughts on a 80-63 loss against the Buckeyes:
Few, save for Jared Fogle, predicted a victory against the Buckeyes this late afternoon in Columbus.
They were out for revenge against an Indiana squad that defeated them on New Year’s Eve; they’d lost a tough one in Champaign earlier this week with Brandon Paul hitting everything in sight. As Dana O’Neil tweeted: “Never play the Buckeyes when they’re angry.”
But a first-half performance this putrid inside Value City Arena? Oy. Indiana had problems all over the place to start this one. The Hoosiers couldn’t buy a bucket, only having 14 points at the break, mustering just an eFG% of 29.5. They allowed 11 second-chance points to the Buckeyes, who sported an OR% of 37.5. Indiana also turned the ball over too much (12 turnovers, 37.5 TO%). And then there was Lenzelle Smith Jr. He came into this one averaging 5.2 points per game. At half, he had 18. When the final buzzer sounded, Smith had a career-high 28 on 10-of-12 shooting, including four 3-pointers.
But the second half? Indiana held its own. The shooting recovered (it finished with a 49.1 eFG% ) and the 3-point shot — which had been dormant against Minnesota and in the fist half of this one — came to life a bit as Indiana hit 7-of-21 (33.3%) on the evening. Not as good as they’ve been hitting. But not as bad as the first half was projecting. Indiana went 2-3 zones for stretches, which helped slow the Buckeyes some. And the turnovers cooled down (17 total, 26.0 TO% for the game). The Hoosiers also outscored the Buckeyes in the second half, 49-45.
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The No. 7 Hoosiers, coming off a disappointing 77-74 home loss to Minnesota on Thursday, hit the road for Value City Arena in Columbus and a showdown with No. 5 Ohio State. Indiana won the first meeting, 74-70, on Dec. 31.
The game will be shown on CBS (Verne Lundquist and Clark Kellogg) and broadcast on the IU radio network:
Indiana’s schedule to begin conference play has been, in a word, challenging. Three of five games against the league’s top tier. And it doesn’t get any easier on Sunday afternoon as the Hoosiers face an Ohio State team that can not afford to fall behind any further in the conference standings. Both teams already own a pair of Big Ten losses and a third will put IU or OSU three behind Michigan State (assuming they emerge victorious today in Evanston) in the loss column.
The payback factor is also in-play as the Buckeyes are looking to avenge a New Year’s Eve loss in Bloomington. Whether it was the atmosphere in Assembly Hall or just a bad game, that loss produced several subpar individual performances from Thad Matta’s club. Aaron Craft had six turnovers. William Buford never established a presence on offense due to foul trouble. Likewise for Deshaun Thomas.
Both teams are coming off surprising losses. For the Hoosiers, a lackluster defensive effort was their ultimate undoing against Minnesota. For Ohio State, a once-in-a-lifetime performance from Brandon Paul (43 points on 11-of-15 shooting) led Illinois to a 79-74 upset on Tuesday. And I don’t use that terminology to describe Paul’s play lightly. He was incredible, but also unlikely to play that well ever again. The Buckeyes ran into a buzzsaw.
DEFENSE SEPARATES THESE TEAMS
Through five league games, Ohio State owns the league’s best defense. They’re allowing just 0.86 points per possession. They’re also ranked No. 1 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency by Ken Pomeroy. Indiana, on the other hand, is allowing 1.12 points per possession in league play. That’s last in the Big Ten.
Indiana continues to struggle with defense in Big Ten play, as it gave up 1.15 points per possession to the Gophers on Thursday inside Assembly Hall.
A look at some of the Hoosiers’ breakdowns in both man-to-man and 2-3 zone defense in the latest edition of Film Session.
1) AHANMISI TO THE HOLE
Elliott Eliason sets a ball screen for Maverick Ahanmisi out near half court:
Maverick is off to the rim past Oladipo. Elston just slides along to the side of him:
Jones doesn’t step up or get a body in front of Ahanmisi. He just swipes in with his right hand:
Well that wasn’t supposed to happen.
After the Hoosiers climbed to their highest ranking since January of 2008, they fell to Minnesota at home Thursday night in a game thought to be a stepping stone to the showdown at Ohio State this weekend.
Greg Rosenstein and Matt Dollinger talk about the loss and what it means for the rest of IU’s season with former IDS basketball columnist Jordan Cohen. The three discuss the struggles of Verdell Jones and Christian Watford as well as the return of Will Sheehey.
Later in the show, Sports Illustrated senior writer and Bloomington native Jon Wertheim comes on to discuss the Hoosiers and his two recent stories on the program. Wertheim wrote a story in this week’s SI magazine about Indiana’s turnaround this season and also penned a story on SI.com comparing what Tom Crean went through at Indiana to what new head football coach Bill O’Brien will go through at Penn State.
Wertheim also discusses growing up in Indiana and following the Hoosiers and also answers questions about the state of the program and how Crean has been successful in turning it around.
So tune in and enjoy. As always feel free to drop us a note at firstname.lastname@example.org
Note: Wertheim has written two books Hoosier fans might be interested in. His latest, Scorecasting, comes out on paperback next week and his book Transition Game chronicles Indiana high school basketball and Wertheim’s alma mater, Bloomington North.
As I walked out of the media room last night, the sound of a ball pounding Branch McCracken Court immediately hit my ears.
So before hitting the exit in the south end of Assembly Hall, I took a quick peek around the corner to find a familiar face hoisting up shots.
It was Verdell Jones.
Headphones on. No expression on his face. Just Verdell, the ball, a student manager to rebound and the basket.
Roughly eighty minutes earlier, the buzzer sounded on arguably the worst stat performance of Jones’ Indiana career: 0-of-6 from the field, three rebounds, one assist, one steal and three turnovers in 23 minutes. Scoreless for just the second time in an IU uniform.
A bad game made worse by the fact that the Hoosiers, who had just three days ago soared to No. 7 in the latest Associated Press Top 25 Poll, lost for the first time this season at home to Minnesota.
The Golden Gophers, previously winless in Big Ten play, were coming off a 13-point loss at home to Purdue.
And in what may have been an even more shocking development than the loss for a team that has far exceeded expectations to-date, a smattering of boos were unleashed as Matt Roth was subbed out for Jones late in the second half.
Jones has been the most discussed and critiqued player on the roster for most of his time in Bloomington. Some of the criticism has been justified. Some of it has not.