After their failed venture in Puerto Rico and subsequent loss to Maryland at home, expectations for this team shifted. Where once IU fans had hopes of flirting with .500, a sobering reality hit: maybe our expectations for this team were too high, maybe this team wasn’t going to eclipse 10 wins after all.
But things changed, as they often do.
In the Hoosiers last two contests – a win over Pittsburgh, the biggest win of Tom Crean’s tenure, and a solid showing against Kentucky, one of the best teams in the country — they’ve shot the ball better, played some great zone defense and turned the ball over at a lesser rate. They’re starting to look like they belong. And so I think expectations are back where they were to start the season: this team, with an influx of talent and new faces, has enough going for it where, at their ceiling, they might be able to hit .500. As you can see with the use of the italics here, I stress might. Because heading into Big Ten play, IU will likely be 7-5. Which means the Hoosiers are going to have to go 8-10 during Big Ten play — I’m not counting the Big Ten tourney here — to finish the season at 15-15. Is this out of the realm of possibility? No. Is it likely? Probably not. It’s a safer bet to project IU in the 10-14 win range right now.
BLOOMINGTON – For 20 minutes of basketball Saturday in Assembly Hall, Indiana stood toe-to-toe with one of the nation’s top teams.
Fueled by 63 percent shooting in the first half, the Hoosiers trailed No. 4 Kentucky just 42-41 at halftime.
But after a layup by Jeremiah Rivers put IU ahead 48-47 with 17:42 remaining, the Wildcats (10-0) went on an 18-0 run en route to a comfortable 90-73 win.
“I knew Tom Crean would have them ready to go,” Kentucky coach John Calipari said. “This game, for us to win in that fashion, we played well. That’s like a February effort.”
The scoreless stretch of nearly five minutes, capped by an Eric Bledsoe dunk at the 12:40 mark, was too much for the Hoosiers (4-5) to overcome.
“We were just not as aggressive defensively,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said of the run. “And then we settled for some shots. I think it was more the defense than anything else. We just were not where we needed to be. We’ve got to create points off of our defense. We’re not going to score well enough against size and length and athleticism enough if we’re not getting easy baskets.”
Indiana coach Tom Crean, Maurice Creek and Derek Elston met with the media following Indiana’s 90-73 loss Saturday against Kentucky in Assembly Hall. Listen to their comments, as well as those of UK coach John Calipari, in the embedded media players below:
Yes, Kentucky is a very talented team, more talented than the Hoosiers. Yes, they’re undefeated against a difficult schedule thus far. Yes, a loss is the likely outcome for IU on Saturday. Yet, there’s at least one area that the Wildcats are weak in, an area the Hoosiers would be wise to exploit. Also, in Ken Pomeroy’s latest rankings, Kentucky only ranks 54th in the country, which is shocking if you look at its No. 4 ranking in the AP Top 25 Poll and its win-loss record against that tough schedule.
Let’s take a look at some of this:
As you can see, IU has done a respectable job this year at creating turnovers — they’re in the top 50 in the country in defensive turnover percentage. Meanwhile, Kentucky is one of the worst teams in the country in offensive turnover percentage. At 291th, only 56 DI teams are turning over the ball at a higher percentage. And even though IU’s turnover percentage is poor, UK’s defensive turnover percentage doesn’t jump out at you. As we saw against Pitt, winning the turnover game can be beneficial for this squad.