Thoughts on a 75-71 loss to the Illini:
The Illini served up chance … after chance … after chance. But Indiana failed to capitalize. And so, despite a strong first half, a fouled-out Ayo Dosunmu in his worst game of the season, and the Illini shooting just 11-of-34 in the second half and overtime, it’s a loss for the Hoosiers. A gut-punching, frustrating, brutal, demoralizing loss.
Indiana is in desperate need of quality wins to solidify an NCAA tournament berth. Tonight was a golden opportunity for one, but the Hoosiers let it slip away. The loss means Indiana is just 2-4 at home in the Big Ten with three straight losses inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. It also means the Illini snapped a seven-game losing streak in Bloomington, its first win on Branch McCracken Court since 2010.
This was the most tightly-officiated contest of the season with a number of monitor reviews to boot. Beyond Dosunmu, Giorgi Bezhanishvili, Rob Phinisee and Khristian Lander also fouled out in this one. Phinisee recorded 0 points, 0 rebounds and 0 assists in 13 minutes of action, which continues a trend of poor Phinisee games leading to an Indiana loss. Lander hit two 3-pointers and dished out two assists. But Trent Frazier made back-to-back 3-pointers over Lander to quickly erase a six-point Indiana lead with just over five minutes to play. Then, on the Illini’s next possession, Lander got over-eager and fouled Frazier on his third 3-point attempt in as many possessions. Frazier hit two of three at the line for an 8-0 run all by himself. Lander fouled out of the game.
Trayce Jackson-Davis continues to struggle over length. Kofi Cockburn’s size made the sophomore shade away from the hoop and take some bad looks. Three of his shots hit just the backboard in the first half. Jackson-Davis finished only 6-of-18 from the floor. Two of those buckets were long 2s. Another long 2 he took in overtime, however, airballed.
Indiana made just one basket in overtime and had a ton of trouble getting anything going on offense. Credit Illinois some for stopping penetration and keeping TJD from catching in good position. Illinois bumbled along to just one field goal itself in overtime, but was able to get to the line eight times and converted on five of them. Speaking of free throws, Indiana hit a sharp 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) in the first half, but closed out the game just 13-of-20 to wind up with an overall percentage of 67.6.
Race Thompson had 18 points, a high in Big Ten play for him. He also added eight rebounds, three steals and two blocks. He defended well. It was a great performance from the Minnesota native, except he made just 6-of-12 from the line. As such, Thompson was getting up free throws in his uniform after the game.
Archie Miller’s take on the loss: “Little plays. Loose balls. Hit your hands and can’t get it. Grab it, they get it. There’s just too many of those plays right now.”
The computers still like this Indiana team. The Hoosiers are No. 28 on KenPom after tonight’s loss. They’re No. 31 on T-Rank. But the reality is this team is struggling to win basketball games. And if the losses keep piling up, Selection Sunday might be another day of mourning for the IU faithful.