Notebook: Valiant effort not enough for Hoosiers on senior night

  • 02/24/2018 1:42 am in

It was a different story with the same ending for Indiana as it couldn’t quite muster enough to topple a ranked foe at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Previously, it was losses Duke, Michigan State and Purdue in regulation. This time, the Hoosiers (16-14, 9-9 Big Ten) forced two periods of extra basketball, only to fall in heartbreaking fashion to No. 16 Ohio State, 80-78.

There were 14 ties and 16 lead changes in total, with the largest advantage being a 12-point edge to Ohio State late in the first half. Every time Indiana pushed Ohio State, the Buckeyes (24-7, 15-3) had an answer. That’s why despite the game being 50 minutes long, the largest Indiana lead was just two points.

Less than four weeks after a convincing win over Indiana in Columbus, the Hoosiers gave Ohio State all they could handle. The end of regulation and overtime periods were full of contentious moments and big shots. The second overtime, in particular was sensational with the lead changing hands eight times in a matter of five minutes.

Indiana thought they had the game won when Juwan Morgan made a spectacular play, bullying potential Big Ten Player of the Year Keita Bates-Diop inside and using a left-handed bank shot to put the Hoosiers up one with only 7.4 seconds left.

But a defensive breakdown on the ensuing Buckeyes possession left Indiana devastated. Ohio State’s C.J. Jackson went the length of the floor and threw up a deep triple that swished through the net with just 1.6 on the clock. Josh Newkirk lost his balance for a split second as Jackson drove into the frontcourt and was a split second late on the contest, allowing Jackson to get off a clean look.

“I haven’t seen the film yet to see what we could have done better,” Archie Miller said. “That’s a special situation type of thing as a coach that will haunt you for a long time; that with no timeouts, or a made basket coming down full speed, you weren’t organized or weren’t able to get the spot, looked like a broken play.”

The loss leaves Indiana without a signature win in conference play, and awaiting their fate in terms of Big Ten Tournament seeding. A Penn State win over Nebraska on Sunday gives the Hoosiers the No. 7 seed, while a Penn State loss puts them at No. 6.

Senior night at the hall

In what was likely the final home game of senior Robert Johnson’s career, the guard left it all out on the floor. In his 117th collegiate start, Johnson finished with 17 points, three rebounds four assists, and hit a pair of free throws in the final seconds of the first overtime to tie the game.

Johnson continued to climb the all-time scoring chart in program history. His collegiate total is now at 1,401 points, tying him with Jimmy Rayl for 22nd in IU history. Johnson is just 26 points away from cracking the top-20.

Josh Newkirk, the other senior member of the backcourt, had one of his best games of the season. The senior looked confident on the court, making several key plays and earning the trust of Miller, who inserted him into the game to start the second half in place of Devonte Green.

“(Newkirk) was solid. Six assists, one turnover,” Miller said. “Thought he played really hard defensively. He was engaged in the game. He did everything in his power to help us in this one. He was the most solid guy out there with the ball. So we kept him in.”

Justin Smith throwing down the hammer

For the fourth consecutive game, freshman Justin Smith came off the bench to provide important frontcourt minutes. With Morgan again stuck in early foul trouble, Smith was called upon to keep the Hoosiers afloat.

Smith played a season-high 37 minutes, scoring 16 points and grabbing four rebounds. His aggressiveness was on full display, as he repeatedly forced his way to the bucket in an attempt to rattle the rim. Although it didn’t work every time, when it did, it brought the crowd to its feet.

“I’ve seen him grow a lot,” Morgan said of Smith. “It translates from practice. He’s finishing really well, focusing more getting to the rim and putting it in the basket. We used to call him a practice dunker because he could always dunk it hard in practice but he never was trying to dunk on anybody in the games. And now he’s attacking the rim with that kind of aggressiveness.”

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  • Adam 01

    Last night, I was at the game. I’m sure everything I’m about to say has already been said.

    1. Awful student attendance. Embarrassing.
    2. It was obvious that the guys wanted to win so bad that they played a bit tight.
    3. To play so poorly for long stretches and still be in a position to win shows just how much this team’s spirit and fight has improved throughout the season.
    4. I’m REALLY going to miss RJ next year. So much fun to watch him work his butt off every game.
    5. After the Yahoo reports, college basketball as we know it is over.

  • Speed

    Agreed,,,so disappointed for the kids who played their heart out. This team has come a long way. So many reports appear to be showing that many elite programs crossed the line. Big changes appear to be looming.

  • Hated to see is lose that way but it happens, it will be interesting to see how things shake out. Where can I see the senior speeches,

  • Sandra Wilson

    College basketball will not change that much, if at all. The NCAA could have taken care of this years ago, but chose not to do so. They are only interested in making money. If you watch Kentucky recruit the best players year after year and act like there’s nothing going on, you don’t want to know. Now, Duke seems to be starting the same pattern. To anyone watching, those are red flags that should have been investigated, and harshly punished if found guilty. Look at UNC and the academic fraud case. No penalty and basically the NCAA gave a guide to cheating with their ruling. They will do what they’re forced to do with this FBI probe, but when the smoke blows away, we’ll go back to normal……On the attendance. People will fill the stands when there is a winning program with quality play. We’ve been mired in the mediocrity for too long and people are losing interest. Great effort is just not enough to put fans in the seats anymore. Poor passing and terrible shooting is not an entertaining combination, particularly for the occasional fan. There are other things to do.

  • inCMitrust

    It doesn’t look good for Archie’s brother. The Martin/Dawkins/Bowen connection to IU so far doesn’t look like it will touch us. We dropped out of the Bowen sweepstakes early because everybody thought he was going to MSU.

  • MisterSlippery

    I really like the style of play of Coach Miller and hope for better results in time than being a middling team in a down year for the conference. I really hope he’s not been involved in crooked behavior.

  • HoosierBballNut

    I was at the game as well last night and was disappointed by the attendance in general.. the entire upper balancony on the side opposite to players bench was empty..
    I was fortunately able to secure great behind the basket seats which gave me great appreciation for the following for which TV doesn’t do justice –

    1) Zach is a monster on defense – I saw him battling Diop, and he isn’t close to being physically matched up well with him but it was so impressive to see how well he guarded him.. goes back to Archie’s post game conference.. the kid is uber talented on defense

    2) we will miss Freddie’s rebounding next year.. his ability to jump straight up amid the trees and rip the ball out of the air is flat out impressive.. I think he should consider being a tight end in football

    3) the student did get in it toward the end and rocked our assembly hall, I spoke to a couple of frehman and I got the feeling that a lot of them do not consider us to an elite basketball school anymore.. Thas sad.. hopefully sustained and consistent success under Archie will change that and have going to basketball games be a big student thing again

    4) We are so much better defensively and I could hear our players talking and be engaged the whole time

  • Adam 01

    Yeah, number 5 on my list sounded negative, but it wasn’t meant to be. Get rid of the one and done rule. Make players that choose college stay for 3 years. Maybe even pay college players minimum wage.

    I think the attendance was embarrassing. I like Don Fischer’s idea. Take 2000 or so tickets away from students and sell them to general public.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree about the quality of last night’s game. It was entertaining, but I wouldn’t describe what I watched as sound basketball. Maybe on the defensive end.

  • coachv

    the freshmen were right. i hope and believe miller is the man to bring iu back. right now we are like nebraska football, clinging with all our might to a glorious past. in the meantime, time to take away some of the 7800 season tix reserved for students and sell them to people who will come to the game. big thumbs down to all who left after the game without staying for the seniors’ speeches. so disrespectful. you should be ashamed

  • Ted Davis

    As an IU alum (who saw both Isiah Thomas and Steve Alford play) and a big Hoosier fan who has been a college professor for a long time, I’m going to comment under my real name about the scandalous state of Division I athletics. Really, the scandal is almost entirely about football and men’s basketball, so I’ll refer to the people involved as “men” or “him.” We can leave the women out of this, unless they are ADs at the schools involved. Nor does the scandal involve the Ivy Leagues schools (which are D1, but don’t give athletic scholarships), Division II (less famous schools where athletic scholarships are given) or Division III (where athletic scholarships are strictly forbidden). A huge majority of colleges and universities in the NCAA are NOT in Division I, so please keep this in mind when talking about college sports. The vast majority of college athletes, including the vast majority of those who play in D1, are not implicated in any of this. Nor are they usually implicated in the other scandals you might recall reading about. The places and people involved are at the Big Name places where the teams are always on television. That’s where the big money is. Big money often leads to corruption in any area of life, and D1 sports is no exception.

    I’ll put a second comment with a possible solution. It probably won’t be popular here, but it probably would be popular among people like me who have spent their working lives in higher education.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Ted, hello and here in Illinois the pension abuse is just as scandalous as the D1 corruption.

  • Colt

    Crook County and Mike Madigan blow.

  • Colt

    I think the future is really bright for IU hoops. Miller proved he is an excellent coach by how he got this team committed to playing hard and focused on D. Sure, there were some bumps in the road but that was to be expected.

    I hope we get an NIT bid because the extra game and practice time will be huge.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    I hate the Friday night games, absolutely has an impact on attendance. Being said, I’m still disappointed about it.

    I hate it that iu has any ties whatsoever to any of the crap that’s going on, but I ain’t all that worried, given what we know so far. There wasn’t any talk about money, obviously we didn’t get him, neither og nor TB went with that agency, no iu players were reported to receive money, and that entire coaching staff is gone.

  • Colt

    Husker football will be back now that Scott Frost is there.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    That’s right Colt. I forgot you live here. The U of I is more corrupt than any other universities. The entire Board of Trustees had to be removed.

  • Colt

    That is why my son goes to IU. He got into U of I business school as well but the choice (which was his) was a no brainer.

  • WhatsUpKnight2.0

    I agree. Unlike last year, I’m not in a huge rush for the offseason. But oh man there are gonna be some juicy stories.

  • HoosierBballNut

    Unfortunately I deserve the thumbs down too.. I had to leave at the end of the game since I had to drive back to Chicago..

    On a slightly tangential note – I never had to worry about any type of Fraudulent activity with Crean at the helm, and with everything we have going on at Arizona, it has me slightly worried. I get that they are two separate people but just the proximity of the whole thing in terms of Archie and Sean being brothers just gives me some anxiety..

    On a basketball note – I am convinced that under Archie, the team will play a brand of basketball which will make all of very proud to be Hoosier Basketball Fans! Tough nosed connected defense and a moving, cutting, screening offense!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Smart choice. See you in Bloomington, or has your son graduated?

  • coachv

    jay bilas said on espn that sean miller will never coach another college basketball game, ayton will never play in another, and all previous games this season will be forfeited. additionally, they will not be in the ncaa tourney. wowsa. hopefully archie’s apple has fallen very far away from that tree. he must be hurting right now.

  • coachv

    small correction. replace “had to leave” with “chose to leave”. these hard working, unpaid kids anticipate senior night for a long time. imagine their disappointment looking up and seeing a mostly empty arena.

  • coachv

    promising. but we shall see

  • HoosierBballNut

    Hmmm .. Interesting.. I think I am going to stick with “Had To”, considering the 4+ hour drive I had ahead of me late in the night.. I made the decision, albeit an unpopular one.. I think my appreciation and fandom for IU basketball goes way beyond just staying back for Senior Night.. Just my opinion 🙂

  • HoosierBballNut

    I am surely intrigued to hear your thoughts on a possible solution. Would you mind possibly posting it as a response to your comment? Thank you for your dedication to higher education!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Wow!

  • Koko

    Jay Bilas is right at least for now….Sean Miller won’t be coaching tonight’s game with Oregon.
    I think Archie’s apple will be just fine.
    Sean?….maybe not so much.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Adam, that is actually a great idea. There are many people living in and around the Bloomington area that would love to attend a game. Ticket prices would be lower this year because lack of demand and citizens in the area could take advantage of that.

  • Ted Davis

    I’ve tried twice already, but the Artificial Unintelligence won’t let me do so, probably b/c it is designed to reject posts longer than a few sentences. So, if I’m able somehow to place a few sentence here, the core idea will be present but without much justification or discussion of the implications. That’s a sorry situation, but this site is apparently not designed for meaningful discussion of something as important as this.