IU falters in 66-44 loss to Texas at Maui Invite

Report from the Indy Star’s Zach Osterman:

After a performance as poor as the previous day’s had been impressive, Archie Miller was ready to turn the page. Not out of some need to flush a dismal 66-44 loss to Texas in which IU never led, but because the only course into this by-the-seat-of-our-pants season is a crash course, and the teams that embrace will be the ones that make the most of it.

The momentum of a 21-point victory Monday against Providence, at the Maui Invitational, evaporated less than 24 hours later in the face of Texas’ length, athleticism and pressure, none of which the Hoosiers (2-1) handled adequately. Indiana shot 9-of-36 on 2s and made more free throws (20) than field goals (11) across one of the program’s worst offensive performances in the last decade.

“That wasn’t our offense that you saw today,” sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said. “We let their pressure get to us.”

Which is why Miller was talking about learning quickly postgame. No coach wants to use these three-games-in-three-days tournaments to suffer the growing pains that would usually be reserved for the softer portions of a nonconference schedule, but that’s not an option now, and IU can’t endure another winter defined by these hot-and-cold performances.

They were, of course, an all-too-common theme a season ago, but Monday’s dominant win over Providence — one which left its coach “flabbergasted” — suggested a maturity and composure that did not show against Texas.

Indiana started poorly offensively, wasting a solid enough first-half defensive effort and struggling badly in the paint. Issues shooting the 3 would be one thing. The fistfuls of points the Hoosiers were leaving at the rim are another entirely.

“I’m not gonna say every shot we took was tough,” Miller said. “Right now, we’re missing some easy ones in and around the rim.”

That started inside, where IU’s traditional post players, Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson, finished a combined 6-of-17 from the floor. But they were hardly alone.

Jerome Hunter struggled to impact the game from the bench. Indiana point guards could not manage the Longhorns’ (3-0) ball pressure, to the tune of a 6-to-14 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Hoosiers’ freshmen looked like freshmen against Texas’ length.

No one played well, and Indiana lost, badly, defeat compounded by Al Durham’s ankle injury near the end of the second half. Durham is doubtful for Indiana’s third-place game Wednesday, against the loser of UNC-Stanford.

“Give Texas credit. Texas a little bit stunned our guys in the first four, five minutes of the game,” Miller said. “They imposed, early on, how physical and how tough they were gonna play, and I thought that played a role. I thought that knocked us on our heels.”

Miller singled out three keys coming into Tuesday’s game, knowing some of the mismatches the Hoosiers would have to manage. They would need to keep turnovers down, he said, would need to fight hard for rebounds and would need to win the matchup of transition offenses.

Final results: 14 turnovers, minus-19 on the boards, outscored 22-9 in fast-break points.

“They beat us in every one of those phases,” Miller said. “At the end of the day, we were dominated in those little things.”

Dominated in the little things, and in the big things, most notably where it counts.

Miller’s message to move on quickly was another reminder of just how young this season is. Monday wasn’t worth over- or underreacting to, and Tuesday shouldn’t be either. Both need to be learned from, and quickly, because this season is going to move at a breakneck pace for a while.

“In tournaments like these, you’ve got to move on,” sophomore guard Armaan Franklin said. “You’ve got another game in less than 24 hours. You’ve got to digest what we did today and then move on.”

That’s especially important for an IU team that needs this winter the consistency it couldn’t manage last. These Hoosiers are too good for the ugly performances that beset them so frequently a season ago. Monday’s win was evidence of that.

Which made Tuesday’s performance all the more concerning. This team isn’t flawless. This season, no one will be.

But these Hoosiers are better than that. They know they are, and they need to be. Last season’s peaks and valleys need to be an unfortunate memory and little more. There’s work yet to do, apparently.

22 comments

  1. I lost interset in IU basketball over 15 years ago. It has been on a downward slide exacerbated by the inability to successfully recruit top in state players as well as out of state kids. A shame considering the money, structural improvements and history. Nebraska’s football woes are similar, with one big difference…..they need to fill an 85 person roster with a limited in state population. IU can’t fill a 10 man roster with basketball at a high level played all over the state. With a handful of exceptions, one only has to look at the recruiting ‘whiffs’ over this period. A dynamic, modern coach is the only answer,…whoever and whetever they may be. As it stands,…it’s in a predictable quagmire,..and frankly, an embarrassment.

  2. With the COVID Virus causing all of cancelling of games and shorten seasons in the NFL, MLB, NBA and all of the problems in the College sports, with game cancellations, fall sports being moved to the spring, just take I U Basketball one game at a time and be thankful you have something to cheer or complain about.

    1. I tuned in today to see if the Providence win was a harbinger of things to come. It was. Life is difficult enough as it is right now without more ‘elective’ frustration. Tell you what, you watch them for both of us. I’m not that desperate for ‘entertainment’. Wake me up when this decrepit program wakes up. Too-dah-loo.

  3. We are playing like last year. No floor leader again, not talking, and look like they are not having fun. We need to go after the hungry and working players, too many Mr. Basketball’s.

  4. It was a hard game to watch. 11 field goals in 40 minutes, two of them 3;s. 6 bench points. Out rebounded by 19. Texas went from # 9 to #5 and IU from #14 to #26 (KenPom). Seemed like a game requiring a drive to the basket every time — at least get the free throws. And yes, recruiting …

  5. IU is going to struggle against long, athletic teams. This team’s ability falls somewhere between the performance against Providence and the performance against Texas. They are an average team. One game does not a season make, but based on the top teams in the Big 10, I just don’t see IU in the top tier. The unknown is the development of Lander. He has to be key, because the other guards have limitations. Durham is not a good facilitator and still frequently drives out of control. He should not be the primary ball handler. Phinisee and Franklin are average at best. Perhaps the other freshmen guards step up. The lone outstanding athlete is Geronimo. He looks like he needs to develop some confidence to be more of a constant threat. Hunter is a good shooter, but not a complete player. The bigs, with Bruno back are ok. Trayce is skilled, Race is a battler and Brunk is a good sub. These guys have to rebound, because if they don’t, IU is in for a very average season, and I think the expectations at Indiana should be much higher than average. Miller has his work cut out for him. I really do hope this team performs much better, because the mix should be more complimentary than last season with Green and Davis.

  6. Worst FG shooting percentage in decades, if not EVER. Why are Archie’s players such bad shooters?

  7. I have a feeling that, with a new AD at IU, if Archie doesn’t get to 20 wins this year he is gone. I just think the new AD will be wanting to put his guy in there.

  8. Sick of hearing about Ashville.
    Sick of hearing about the Grateful Dead.
    Sick of hearing about the Biltmore.
    Sick of hearing from braindead Billy Walton.
    Isn’t there a BB tournament being played today?
    Sick of the crappy product ESPN puts out.
    FOX turn up the heat on your weak, non focused competitor.

    1. I did enjoy Walton’s slight at the concept of “preemptive pardons” ….
      Then again, there’s a bit of hypocrisy because Walton once received a preemptive pardon for a 5th foul against Steve Downing. And the rest is history.

    2. In fact when you throw in Ted Valentine officiating he and hippie Bill make it look like a pretty low rent tournament. Guess that’s why it is normally in Hawaii.

  9. It looks like the bball team, much like the football team, will rely heavily on defense this season. So far the team looks good defensively.

    1. Personally, I think it’s a very high ceiling for offensive production. These young guns (Lander, Leal, Galloway) are going to surprise by season’s end. Franklin and Phinisee also stroking the ball better than last season. Race looks sharper and his energy level is infectious. And we’ve yet to see how the inside presence of Brunk makes Race and Trayce even more difficult to contain inside.

      Very underrated and dissed Hoosier team. Hope it’s putting a massive chip on their shoulder. There is not a single toe-tripper on the bench. Deep …Very deep squad with youth, high energy and exceptional basketball IQ. It represents a basketball rich state that way it should.

      I commend Archie Miller for bringing high basketball IQ kids back to McCracken.

  10. Question: Is the sky still falling?

    IU FG % 27/51 52.9
    3-Pt % 5/15 33.3
    Free Throw % 20/25 80.0

    20 ASSISTS!

    Good basketball team with a ton of young promise. Really like how Franklin has developed. Galloway is also a prize recruit.

    1. No sky is falling on my end. Praised the team when they did the job, expressed frustration with HOW they lost yesterday. Then gave much praise on their play today.

      It’s ok to question where the ceiling of the program is. I’m rooting for Archie big time. But it seems like, around here, you have to pick a side and scream about it ad infinitum.

      I think it is appropriate in year 4 to wonder why we still play games where we don’t even show up. I don’t have answers, but think it is a worthy discussion. Also, a worthwhile answer is the Texas is a pretty damn good basketball team.

      This is a critical year for the program. And I personally admit that yesterdays loss was a big downer. Definitely feeling much better today.

  11. 1992, Archie’s vulnerability has been increased by his failure in recruiting for the class 2021. It’s not like we can all say, “help is on the way.” But I think whether Archie stays or goes will be heavily influenced by the cost of his contract buyout. IU’s Athletic budget probably won’t have a lot of surplus cash necessary to pay Archie’s severance package.

    But let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. Let’s hope that this team will improve significantly in the weeks to come and hit its stride in January and February.

  12. Basketball is just a nice diversion from IU’s highest-watched, highest-rated and highest revenue-generating sport, football. Time to stop taking revenue generated from football to fund a basketball team that has been solidly mediocre since the last century.

  13. Oh, stop. Last season the football team played teams with an average win record in the .200s.

    This season was mostly Penix and wins against some rare very poor seasons for Penn State and Michigan (they are both, essentially, losing to most “mediocre” teams). We came close to OSU but we still lost the game. And you don’t fund anything without butts in stands.

    Nothing points to a direction of this being any sort of long term transformation. It’s winning against a slew of bad teams last year meets a season of empty stadiums with multiple cancellations of games. a = measuring a program against terrible teams. b = measuring one season of success in a Twilight Zone atmosphere of cancelled games, resets and empty stadiums.

    Last time I checked, the banners still hang in Assembly. They may be ancient, but no more so than King Tut’s treasures. And they certainly were marketed plenty for those glorious reunions to prop up Glass and Crean.

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