The Minute After: Syracuse

  • 12/03/2013 10:07 pm in

Thoughts on a 69-52 loss to the Orange:

This had the makings of a great one.

During their first true road game inside a rocking Carrier Dome, the Hoosiers withstood an early 10-0 deficit. They stopped settling for 3-pointers, started working into the teeth of the zone (or simply beat it back down the court before it could set up) and started scoring points. IU didn’t shoot it great over the first 20 minutes (9-of-28, 32.1 percent), but it did what it does best by rebounding 50 percent of its misses and getting some putbacks — Troy Williams, in particular, had a spectacular tip-in — and some trips to the line (8-of-9, 88.9 percent).

Indiana also didn’t let Syracuse have its way too much on offense. At half, the Hoosiers had scored a respectable 1.03 points per possession and trailed by just four (33-29). It was a man’s game at the rim with both teams’ back lines swatting shots — athletes all over the court on both sides of the ball.

Williams and Noah Vonleh (who lived at the line tonight and made 13-of-16) scored the first two buckets of the second half and this thing was all knotted up at 33 with 17:51 remaining. IU’s freshmen feared little and it looked like the Hoosiers, if nothing else, were going to keep it close enough to make things interesting.

But the wheels absolutely fell off the remainder of this one. The Hoosiers turned it over again and again. They looked lifeless and lost and devoid of energy. They failed to score a field goal for 12:42 of game clock in the second half. Trevor Cooney got hot. When he wasn’t hitting 3-pointers (5-of-9 from distance, 21 points total) he was getting steals (four) and scoring on the other end. His partner in crime at the top of the Syracuse 2-3 zone, freshman point guard Tyler Ennis, also had a great game (17 points, seven rebounds, eight assists).

The Hoosiers were able to get the back of the zone in foul trouble as C.J. Fair, Rakeem Christmas, DaJuan Coleman, Michael Gbinije and Baye Moussa Keita all had four fouls, while Jerami Grant had three. But with Cooney and Ennis doing a lot of damage themselves, and the Hoosiers without any answers on offense, it didn’t affect the outcome of the game.

Indiana, as has been the case all season, had trouble from distance in this one, shooting just 4-of-14 from the 3-point line. All four of those came from Yogi Ferrell, as he remains just about the only IU player that’s been reliable from the perimeter all season. A flagrant 1 foul from Vonleh in the first half and a flagrant 2 and ejection for Austin Etherington in the second half added the the ugliness on the night for the Hoosiers. By the end of this one, the Hoosiers had turned the ball over on 27.7 percent of their possessions and had an effective field goal percentage of just 41.5 percent.

If this early season is all about learning for these young Hoosiers, they must figure out how to keep the energy at a high level for a full 40 in an environment such as this. The Big Ten season offers plenty of similar road tests in just a few weeks’ time.

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