4 things we learned from IU’s loss to Ohio State

1. The late-season push felt like a tease.

By closing the regular season with four straight wins, Indiana restored hope inside of one of the strangest and most disappointing seasons in recent program history.

It appeared that, perhaps, the Hoosiers had figured out who they were and what they could be. For the first time all year, they were relatively healthy. Production was surfacing from players beyond Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan. Most importantly, IU’s confidence seemed to be restored.

Then, in a must-win game that had the potential to change the tenor of the postseason, Indiana reverted to the worst version of itself at the Big Ten Tournament.

There were 17 turnovers, which Ohio State used to score 24 points. There were too many settled jumpers, with Ohio State packing the paint and making IU uncomfortable. There were several stretches of lifeless, directionless basketball, a season-long problem that IU has struggled to correct. There were also several stretches where Langford and Morgan, IU’s most talented players, simply disappeared.

Indiana put itself back in the NCAA Tournament conversation with its play during the past three weeks. On Thursday, in what was viewed by many bracketologists as a play-in game for an at-large bid, the Hoosiers revealed the truth: they aren’t worthy of an invitation to the dance.

Not this year. Not again.

Barring a miracle on Selection Sunday, Indiana will miss the NCAA Tournament for the third consecutive year, and the seventh time in the past 11 seasons.

Indiana offered too many performances like the aimless showing that unfolded on Thursday. Those efforts undercut the Hoosiers’ six Quadrant 1 victories and their ability to author a more balanced postseason resume.

Now, it seems this team’s only hope for another game will be in the NIT.

2. For Indiana, the Big Ten Tournament is a nightmare-scape of an event.

No matter the setting, no matter the year, the results just don’t seem to change.

Indiana has a conference tournament problem that it hasn’t been able to fix.

Thursday closed the latest chapter in Indiana’s woefully inadequate Big Ten Tournament story. Outside of conference newcomers Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers, only Northwestern (nine) has fewer wins than IU (12) at the league’s annual postseason event.

Since playing in the semifinals in 2003, Indiana has claimed only six Big Ten Tournament victories in the 16 seasons that have followed that appearance.

Only. Six. Victories.

Coach Archie Miller has lost both of his tournament games so far at Indiana, and in his eight seasons as a head coach between both IU and Dayton, Miller is 5-8 in conference tournaments. The only time he’s won more than one game in a league tournament setting was 2015, when Dayton picked up two victories on the way to an appearance in the Atlantic 10 Championship game.

Miller, who won two regular season championships at Dayton, hasn’t won a postseason game of any kind since 2016.

3. The Hoosiers’ worst habit hurt them again.

Slow starts have been a season-long issue for Indiana, which stumbled through the opening segments again on Thursday and struggled to find traction until it was too late.

With so much on the line, how could that happen yet again?

“I don’t have an answer for that,” Langford said.

From the earliest moments, Ohio State established itself as the smarter, tougher team. The Buckeyes, too, were playing for a bid to the NCAA Tournament, and they acted like it.

Poor shot selection along the perimeter, coupled with an abundance of careless turnovers, put the Hoosiers in a hole that they couldn’t escape.

IU’s furious late run, during which it outscored Ohio State 26-9 over a six-minute stretch to get within three points in the final minute, only underscored how poorly IU played for much of the afternoon.

After it seemed that Indiana figured out how to create and sustain the appropriate amount of energy down the stretch of the regular season, the Hoosiers lacked urgency when they needed it most on Thursday.

4. Devonte Green prevented IU from getting run out of the building.

The junior reserve continues to ride the best stretch of his college career.

Green scored a career-best 26 points against Ohio State, setting a new program high for points in a Big Ten Tournament game. Across his last four games, Green is averaging 16.5 points off the bench for the Hoosiers. He’s shooting 67 percent (14-for-21) from 3-point range in that span, and his eight 3-pointers in Thursday’s game set a new Big Ten Tournament record for most 3s in a single contest.

“He was all we had there for a while,” Miller said. “He stepped up and made shots. … I thought Devonte, here in the last three weeks, has really raised his level of play. He was great (Wednesday) in our workout. He’s the one guy. He’s playing with really good confidence right now. He hit some late ones there that were long ones, but without him I don’t think we would have even been close coming back that last eight minutes. He made some really good plays for us.”