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.
THE BAD AND UGLY:
It’s such a cliche, and not to mention, nearsighted, to point to the last moments of the game and peg a loss on one specific play, but hell, I’m going to do it anyways: why, why, why, why, why, did Dumes foul Craig Moore several feet behind the 3-point line at the top of the key with six seconds to go and the game tied? It was an incredibly blatant reach in; it was just plain silly.
Immediately when it happened, I thought to myself: “Did he do that on purpose, so IU would get the ball back and he could hit a game winner?” That’s about the only explanation I can come up with on that.
And then, yup: the final turnover. Fitting, I suppose, that IU squanders its chance to tie or win the game with five seconds left on a turnover on the inbounds pass. It was No. 22 on the night.
So, there you have it: IU’s best game of the season results in its 10th straight loss. But, there was an incredible amount of encouragement tonight. That Big Ten win is coming soon. I can just feel it.