A tale of two halves costs the Hoosiers once again

  • 02/09/2014 8:33 am in

Like many of Indiana’s road games this season, Saturday’s performance against Minnesota was a tale of two halves.

There was the first, in which Indiana built a double-digit lead for its second straight road game and appeared on its way to just its third win away from Assembly Hall this season.

And then there was the second, in which a collapse once again doomed the Hoosiers (14-9, 4-6), this time in a 66-60 loss at the hands of the Golden Gophers (16-8, 5-6) in Williams Arena.

“We had some turnovers in the second half, and we had some awareness issues at the end of possessions,” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “And that’s what it was more than anything else. And in this league, it’s not possession-by-possession, it’s a pass-to-pass league.”

Indeed, such slim margins for error have been the difference makers for the Hoosiers in their first 23 games this season. At Penn State on Jan. 8, the Hoosiers trailed by as many as 15 points but limited mistakes in a second-half comeback victory, their only true road win of the season.

At Nebraska only two Thursdays ago, the Hoosiers led by 16 points but allowed the Cornhuskers to shoot a 66.7 percent effective field goal percentage in the second half in a 60-55 loss.

And following almost a week of rest after Indiana’s upset over No. 10 Michigan last Sunday, the Hoosiers had found themselves in the midst of the NCAA tournament bubble conversation. A win in Minneapolis would have potentially put Indiana on the right side of the bubble.

For the first half of Saturday’s game, it appeared Indiana was well on their way to that win. The Hoosiers came out firing, taking a 13-point lead just 11:30 into the matchup against the Gophers. At halftime, Indiana led, 36-30, turning the ball over just five times and holding Minnesota to a 45.2 eFG%.

However, as Crean said, “it’s the best league in the country. You’ve got to be locked into every pass.”

And in the second half, the Hoosiers simply weren’t. Players tried to do too much creating on offense. Too much driving into the crowded paint. Too many quick, unadvised shots. Minnesota tried trapping Indiana players on offense. The Hoosiers knew it was coming. They couldn’t overcome it.

Just 3:02 into the final 20 minutes, Indiana already had turned the ball over another four times. Minnesota had tied the game, as well, its first tie since the score was 4-4.

“I think we just need to get guys in the right spots to get open and just push the ball up the floor,” freshman Noah Vonleh (12 points, 12 rebounds) said. “I think we just rushed it too much.”

All the while, the Gophers began executing a bit more on offense. They scored 10 points off 11 second-half Indiana turnovers. The Hoosiers started collapsing on defense. In multiple late shot clock situations, Indiana players lost coverages in pick-and-roll plays, resulting in easy Minnesota points.

By the 10:54 mark of the second half, Minnesota had its first lead of the game. And though Indiana would retake the lead at 56-53 with 5:54 to go, the Gophers would go ahead once again just 84 seconds later. This time, Indiana had no answer: a turnover from Stanford Robinson (0 points, 3 turnovers) and a rushed, missed jumper from Yogi Ferrell (14 points) resulted in the Gophers taking a 60-56 lead with 3:14 left.

And in the deciding play of the game, with less than a minute to go, Minnesota’s DeAndre Mathieu (16 points) drove on Indiana senior Evan Gordon and made a layup with 11.6 seconds remaining, putting the Gophers up 64-60 and just moments away from snapping their three-game losing streak.

“In a situation like this, if you don’t have everybody locked in all the way through the very end of it, things like that can happen because they’re good,” Crean said. “They know how to find their spots.”

Now, the Hoosiers find themselves in a tie with Nebraska for eighth place in the Big Ten. A victory on Saturday would have put them in a tie for fifth with eight games remaining and two very winnable ones (vs. Penn State, at Purdue) in the next week.

But once again, second-half issues plagued the Hoosiers. And the possibly of an NCAA tournament bid is as unclear as ever.

“It really sucks,” Vonleh said. “We’ve got to keep getting better, find ways to not turn over the ball.”

Williams gives Indiana a hot start

While his teammates started Saturday’s game 0-for-2 from the field, freshman Troy Williams provided a spark Indiana needed for its first half performance in Minneapolis.

Williams scored the Hoosiers’ first nine points, providing a jumper, free throws, a falling 3-pointer and an emphatic, one-handed slam to put his team up, 9-4, by the 16:08 mark of the first half.

“I was just coming out with energy, just making big plays and making plays for my teammates and all,” Williams said. “I just had a lot of energy.”

Williams finished Saturday’s game with 11 points, his most since he scored that many against Notre Dame on Dec. 14. His 3-pointer was also his first since Indiana’s 54-47 loss against Northwestern on Jan. 18.

(Photo credit: GopherSports.com)

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  • dssnyder1

    The facts in the above article say it all, IU has a pattern of playing just one half of ball. Huge sigh!

  • Gregory J. Haggard

    The officials have a knack of taking us out in the first 5 minutes of the second half.
    Bad officiating is a part of the game, and will be overcome by good teams, but the B1G is ridiculous.
    The inconsistency is glaring.
    What was not a foul in the first half, is suddenly a foul at the start of the second half.
    And then there is the way home teams in the B1G get most calls.
    You cannot ask for consistency when the referee’s are so scrambled.
    I think the B1G is deciding who wins and loses to get as many teams in the tournament as possible, to maximize profits.
    The pitifulness of the B1G for not being on the up and up.

  • Alford Bailey

    Absolutely. Those are the little things that make a big difference.

  • Alford Bailey

    I dont understand all the talk about PUke being a “winnable” game for this team. Yes they are underachievers too but have talent and this is a rivalry game at their place. IU isn’t proving they can they can pull out any big wins on the road. Not to mention the fact IU has beat them what 4 straight. Painter will have them ready and wouldn’t surprise me if the Boilers play their best game against us.

  • MillaRed

    And the ball is ends up in Wiiliams hands at the top of the key. Bad all around.

  • MillaRed

    You will get your share of down votes for that but until I see the Izzo disciple coach a little more like Izzo I’m not going to disagree.

    13 players in a half
    Switching defenses within a single possession
    Playing walk ons over 4 star recruits

    Does Coach think he is that much smarter than everyone else? I have a hard time trying to read his mind.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    IU played just bad enough to loose this one…Need to beat Iowa at home and beat either Wisky or Michigan on road or the bubble will burst ..

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The B1G officiating is the reason we haven’t had a national title in the league in a decade and a half + because it’s TOO different from every other league. The B1G prides themselves on being the best and deepest conference and I swear they call games to aid defense and cause close games. The following is a list of things I see called in the B1G I don’t see called in other games or vice verse that turns the games into defensive struggles in the 50’s and 60’s unlike games in the 80’s you see in the ACC, SEC, and Big 12:
    1) more charge calls than blocks
    2) a complete disregard for hand-checking, bumping, riding, and downright saddling ball handlers
    3) tons of body contact on shooters/drivers not allowed in other leagues
    4) illegal screens away from the ball that mean nothing to the flow of the game
    5) pump fake traveling calls I see other leagues’ players get away with every time.

    That’s just a short list but all of those things make it impossible for teams to get into an offensive flow, create long scoring droughts, and make for ugly, boring, low-scoring games. The the B1G teams get in the tournament and the officiating changes and they can’t adjust and teams drop like flies!

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I think CTC would’ve used a TO in that situation (he’s done it before) but we’d already burned our 1 use it or lose it TO earlier in the half.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Just another game where I thought this Hoosier team would have a breakthrough and instead they lost to another obviously inferior team because they don’t have what it takes to close games. It’s obvious at this point to everyone that IU can go in and dominate a game against teams on their courts for about 2/3 of the game but just don’t have the confident players who can step up and finish the game. I feel like teams are essentially intentionally walking Yogi and Noah to get to the next guy in the lineup because they know they’re peeing down their leg and will choke in that situation. Early in games those same players aren’t playing so tight so IU’s talent level and athleticism carry them. Late in games their lack of confidence and basketball IQ take over and sink the ship.

    At this point I’m not sure there’s anything the coaching staff can do about the fact that this team only has two players who feel confident enough to be on the court in crunch time?

  • Snookafly

    Switching the defense with 5 seconds left in the shot clock is so bizarre. Half the time our own players look as confused as the opposing offense.

  • MillaRed

    Late in the game Yogi didn’t see the call, ended up out of position and fouled. Wasn’t good.

    This defense change thing IMO is a classic case of overthinking. Just stick with the basics.

  • 5_Banners

    This is wrong. They were holding for the last shot. Williams completely messed up and tried to take a shot. Then realized this mid-air but unfortunately turn it over. That’s not on Crean, that’s on Williams. Everyone was yelling “one shot” and after the play, Crean was yelling at Williams saying, “one shot!”.

    I’m not sure why everyone thinks calling a timeout would rectify the situation. Most of the time, when Crean does call a timeout they then complain when they don’t get the result.

    That play was unfortunate, but the blame falls on Williams. They run that stuff in practice everyday…he should know by now about end of half/game situations.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Exactly…Coach Crean was signalling for one shot and calling a play on the sideline. Troy Williams and everyone else on the floor knows that should be a “hold for one shot” possession. Two things went wrong there…first, Yogi initiated the offense too early (in my opinion) and that kind of threw of our ability to hold for one. Second, Troy went way too early and there was a four point play as a result. Tom Crean can be blamed for parts of this defeat and there were some decisions I didn’t agree with but that particular play shouldn’t be put on the coaching staff…that was just a really boneheaded play by Troy Williams.

  • SCHoosier

    IMO Troy..much as I love his potential..is not ready to be on the floor in that situation. Can’t handle or shoot from outside. situation tailor made for AE.

  • MillaRed

    AE doesn’t turn it over. Good call.