The 11-game losing streak is over.
In a game that looked eerily similar to earlier contests the Hoosiers haven’t been able to close out down the stretch, Tom Crean’s club reversed the trend and fended off Iowa 68-60 in front of 14,247 fans in Assembly Hall. The win was the first since December 10 for the Hoosiers.
“It was a great win for us,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “As I said to the players late in the game and I said in the locker room, this will be the toughest win that they ever get. And it wasn’t just because it was game night, it was because we haven’t won in a while and I’m really proud of them.”
Indiana (6-15, 1-8 Big Ten) led by 13 at halftime and enjoyed a 20-point lead with 11:58 remaining. The Hoosiers, however, saw the gap close to 63-60 with 44 seconds remaining on a Jeff Peterson layup.
Crean then called for a timeout and Iowa fouled Verdell Jones, who hit 1 of 2 free throws to make it 64-60. IU forced turnovers on Iowa’s final two possessions on steals by Devan Dumes and Nick Williams. A layup by Malik Story and a pair of free throws by Dumes sealed the victory.
— Jeremiah Rivers’ plaid shirt.
— Devan Dumes. He was 8-of-9 for the night, including 5-of-5 from 3-point land. He scored 27 points. You can’t ask for a better night than that.
– Kyle Taber looking crafty around the rim on two consecutive possession in the second half with around five minutes to go. I repeat: Kyle Taber looking crafty around the rim on two consecutive possessions with about five minutes to go.
— Only 11 turnovers this evening.
— Closing out a game. Finally. That has been perhaps the most infuriating aspect of this season to date. It wasn’t pretty, but those final two steals helped, as Chubs would say, “ease the tension.”
— WE WON!!!!
THE BAD AND UGLY:
— Free Throws. Horrible. Again. Tom. Pritchard. Dis. A. Ppeared. But. I. Don’t. Care. We. Won. YES.
It was a record setting Saturday in Assembly Hall. Matt Roth tied a school record with nine 3-pointers made and Indiana tied a school record with their 11th consecutive loss, 93-81 to Ohio State.
The Hoosiers (5-15, 0-8 Big Ten) haven’t won since December 10 against TCU and Saturday’s 11th straight loss tied a record set by the 1943-1944 team.
“We knew it was a matter of time with him,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said of Roth. “He has been spending so much more time in the gym on his own. He is an excellent shooter and sometimes when you’re really good at something you can take it for granted once in awhile. He hasn’t done that.”
Roth finished with 29 points on 9 of 11 shooting from behind the arc and two free throws, but his remarkable display was overshadowed by Indiana’s inability to contain Evan Turner, William Buford and Jon Diebler.
“It’s really a hard situation there because they have so many guys that can score,” Crean said. “Like I said, they have four perimeter (players). I think you can make a case for this throughout the country but Turner is hard a matchup as there is.”
Turner scored 29 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Buford added 24 and Diebler 21. The Buckeyes (15-5, 5-4) shot 63 percent, including 10 of 17 3-pointers, and hit 25 of 30 free throws.
Besides Roth, two other Hoosiers reached double figures: Devan Dumes (13) and Nick Williams (11). Indiana shot 47 percent and hit 12 of 18 free throws.
Up next: The Hoosiers host Iowa on Wednesday night at 6:30 PM ET on the Big Ten Network.
Record tying performance: Roth’s nine 3-pointers made tied the mark set by Roderick Wilmont on February 28, 2007 at Northwestern.
For the first time in a long time — maybe all season? — the Hoosiers looked like they belonged. Despite the high number of turnovers, IU played so crisp and smooth at points, I had to stop and soak it in. Hey, these guys actually look pretty darn good. In the second half as the intensity crept up and Kevin Coble started dropping in ridiculous shots, IU responded time and time again. Unlike so many other games when I just knew no matter how close it was in the end IU was destined to lose, I genuinely thought they had this game. I was screaming as Matt Roth’s three hit the bottom of the net to tie the game with around 30 seconds or so to go. It’s been a while since I’ve been that emotional about this team.
As the announcers said all second half, this was just a flat-out enjoyable college basketball game to watch. It was extremely physical (who knew?), it was intense, it was two basketball teams that were hell-bent on winning.
Devan Dumes had one of his on nights. Try five 3-pointers in the first half and a career high 26 points on 9-of-16 from the field. IU out-rebounded the crap out of Northwestern, 30-19. And perhaps the best stat of the night: IU hit all 11 free throws it took in the second half, including six from Malik Story. For the game, they made 17-of-19. This is good to see.
All we are past the mopey part of the season now? I’ll admit, I’ve gone through some weird attitudinal shifts toward the 2008-09 Indiana Hoosiers — going from depression to blind faith to cheeriness and back again a couple of times. The past week or so has been the worst. Just as the college basketball season is taking off, earning more nightly attention than at any other part of the year, the cruel reality about Indiana basketball was finally sinking in: IU is just plain awful. They’re going to be awful for the rest of the season. And no amount of rationalizing is going to make the experience any better.
So yeah, the past few weeks — the Michigan game, then the Illinois debacle, and so on — have been pretty depressing. It’s enough to challenge one’s sanity. Why am I watching this team? What’s the point? Do I really not care about Indiana basketball?
Of course I do, and the Hoosiers’ game against Minnesota proved why: They’re getting there. It might not happen on the road, and it might not happen soon, but IU will win a Big Ten game, and it will be awesome.
Until then there’s not a lot to analyze, really. The Hoosiers are just as bad as they look. They’re inefficient offensively because they turn the ball over like crazy. They allow far too many open looks, they don’t have the size to match up, they’re inexperienced, and so forth. There are only so many ways to write that brilliant batch of analysis you just read without getting sick of writing it, let alone reading it. But at one point, I now feel confident in saying, the stars will align, the opposing team won’t knock down those shots, the game will come down to the last few plays, and the Hoosiers won’t turn the ball over, or miss a free throw, or do something utterly erratic that boggles the mind and makes one throw a pillow at the opposite couch. They’ll complete that pass; they’ll make that shot; they’ll avoid weirdness. And they’ll win.
It will be short-lived and it might only be one game. But like I said: It will be awesome.
In what has been a theme throughout this season of rebuilding, the inexperience of Tom Crean’s club shined through down the stretch as Indiana fell 67-63 to Minnesota at Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers (5-13, 0-6 Big Ten) cut the Minnesota lead to 64-63 with 29 seconds remaining on two free throws by Nick Williams. Indiana immediately fouled Al Nolen, who knocked down two free throws to push the Golden Gopher lead back to three at 66-63.
Crean called for time with 21.8 seconds remaining, but the Hoosiers couldn’t get an open look and ultimately settled for an off-balance 3-point attempt by Devan Dumes that fell short. Minnesota’s Paul Carter grabbed the rebound, was fouled by Verdell Jones and knocked down a free throw to put the game out of reach.
“This is one of the tougher ones to swallow,” Crean said. “They all are. They are miserable for every coach and everybody that is a part of it.”
The loss was the fifth straight at Assembly Hall for Indiana, the longest home losing streak for the Hoosiers since the 1984-1985 season.
Dumes led all scorers with 19 points and was joined in double figures by Malik Story with 14 and Tom Pritchard with 10. Indiana hit 8 of 15 3-pointers, but hit just 11 of 21 free throws with eight misses coming in the second half.
“The numbers we chart in practice would astound you. But it is also an empty Assembly Hall,” Crean said. “It is just part of it. I don’t want to get frustrated with that. We just want to continue to put ourselves in pressure situations in practice. We were shooting 72 percent in the Big Ten going into today’s game.”
Damian Johnson paced Minnesota (17-3, 5-3) with 18 points. Ralph Sampson III added 13 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. The win snapped a two-game skid for the Golden Gophers and moved Tubby Smith to 10-4 all-time against Indiana.
“Every time they go out, they don’t give in, they don’t give up,” Smith said of Indiana. “It’s just a matter of sustaining it and consistency, and that’s what he’s getting from his kids. He’s getting a consistent effort. As he continues to recruit he’s going to have a very good team.”
Up next: Indiana will travel to Evanston on Wednesday for a 8:30 PM EST meeting with Northwestern. That game will be broadcast by the Big Ten Network.
T-shirt promotion and $5 balcony seats a success?: Indiana announced a crowd of 16,539, making Sunday’s game the most attended of the season to date.
Ryan Cost, a senior producer over at the Palestra, sent along this feature he put together after IU’s loss at Ohio State on Tuesday: