Indiana drops fifth straight

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn — Indiana squandered a nine-point first-half lead and surrendered a game-changing 10-0 second-half run, allowing Minnesota to grab a 67-63 Big Ten win in front of 12,727 at Williams Arena.

The Hoosiers put forth a valiant effort to keep Minnesota from exploiting its considerable size advantage. Junior power forward Trevor Mbakwe posted his Big Ten-leading ninth double-double with 11 points and 16 rebounds, but he was 4-for-12 from the field. Centers Ralph Sampson III and Colton Iverson were a combined 1-for-6 from the field for eight points.

But the Golden Gophers were better on the perimeter and were especially dangerous on the dribble-drive. Senior guard Blake Hoffarber had 16 points, including a circus 3-pointer on which he made a spin move and shot right in the face of IU sophomore guard Jordan Hulls. Senior point guard Al Nolen had 14 points six rebounds and four assists and sophomore swingman Rodney Williams had 12 points.

The Hoosiers were able to create havoc my mixing man-to-man and a 2-3 zone in the first half, but they were almost exclusively man-to-man in the second half because Indiana coach Tom Crean said he didn’t want to give Hoffarber — who played just 13 first-half minutes but never came out in the second half — an opportunity to get lost in the game. The Gophers shot 51.9 percent in the second frame (14-for-27) compared to 30.8 percent in the first (8-for-26).

Indiana got 13 points each from junior guard Verdell Jones and freshman Victor Oladipo, 12 points from sophomore guard Maurice Creek and 10 points from Hulls. The Hoosiers also got a stellar defensive effort from senior guard Jeremiah Rivers, who had two steals and was used both on the perimeter and in the post. However, sophomore swingman Christian Watford scored just four points on 2-for-13 shooting.

Freshman guard Will Sheehey had seven points in just seven minutes of play in the first half, shooting a perfect 3-for-3. However, Crean played Sheehey just one minute in the second half. Crean said it was not because Sheehey didn’t earn more time, but because he simply didn’t feel comfortable having “two rookies” on the court down the stretch, and he decided to play Oladipo over Sheehey.

The Hoosiers fell behind eight points with 5:15 to go in the game and cut it back to four twice and then two. They seemed to have earned an opportunity to take the lead when Rivers deflected an inbounds pass with 7.5 seconds remaining and the ball was up in the air. However, Hulls was called for a loose ball foul, and Hoffarber hit two free throws to seal the victory.

AUDIO: Minnesota’s Al Nolen and Rodney Williams discuss the win

AUDIO: Tubby Smith says little about Devoe Joseph, more about his team’s resillience

AUDIO: Maurice Creek and Tom Pritchard talk about falling short again

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 1

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 2

12 comments

  1. Freshman or not, if Sheehey is going to score like that, he MUST be on the floor. There are definitely times where I would take him over Jones.

  2. VO has definitely played more minutes & more consistent than Sheehey so far, though both have played well. But, I’m sure that fact was part of Coach’s decision on not to play the two together. I’m sure that was why Rivers got the start instead of VO as well, being the 1st B10 game on the road, Rivers knew more of what to expect. Unless we get the win, it’s a da&*ed if you do, Da*&ed if you don’t, decision.

  3. I thought that Pritchard stepped up and played well tonite. While he was in the game, the breakdowns off the dribble were usually met with his resistance and an easy basket was thwarted.

    Personally, I think that the Hoosiers need to study closely the breakdowns off the dribble and begin to consider if we can afford to play combinations that can’t prevent dribble penetration from the perimeter and who refuse to provide help defense if and when it occurs?

    Seems that Sheehey might help in both of the above situations although would agree that he might be less proficient with ball handling that the poor defensive options. Does this mean that perhaps Rivers should assume more significant ball handling responsibilities with the “rookies”!

  4. 5 in a row? It could end up being 16 in a row. How do we have no improvement from last year? It’s a good thing we have a bunch of studs coming in, but even so, I can’t see us ever winning a championship with them when we get out-coached game in and game out.

    Oh, btw, I think CWat just got his shot blocked 4 more times while I typed this. He needs to not shoot anywhere inside of 10 feet.

  5. Difficult to say anything about last night’s game. It has all been said before. Nothing changes from game to game.

  6. As Indiana fans let’s be honest here, am I the only long time Indiana fan to notice Christian Watford is not athletic?
    I don’t want to sound negative. Watford is a great kid, student, etc. But he is no way the best player on this team. Go look at the film, he struggles mightly inside against everyone. He has not post game what so ever. He never does ball fakes at the rim, no jump hooks. He is good as a straight up shooter. He struggles to create his shot off the dribble as well against tight defenders. But for some reason Crean promotes him as an elite combo big. He needs to develop better footwork on D, better post moves, ball fakes, up and unders, jump hooks. I have never seen a kid get more shots blocked. He never plays above the rim, rarely dunks a put back. Do you other Indiana fans see this?

  7. Bob, Wat is a kid that was highly recruited out of high school. He is athletic though when compared to Capo and Pritch and athletic for a 6 foot 9 kid. It was vs bad comp but he avg almost 20 points a game for the first several games this year. He has struggled the last couple games big time and struggles with D and rebounding it seems. I watched him hit 4 3’s in mm from the left corner about 40 feet back. We have seen him take kids off the dribble to dunk it this year, hit the 10-15 foot jumper and hit the 3. Where you are frustrated like me is that when he gets the ball in the low post with someone playing behind him, he does not know what to do and will turn it over. He needs to learn to find the cutting man or perimeter player. Also, be patient with him…he is being asked to play bigger than he was told this year after Guy is not eligible. He is more of a 3 man, not a 4 or 5.

  8. bob,

    couldn’t agree more which is why i’ve said since last year he and creek have no chance at the nba. for that accurate analysis, i have been met with much derision. watford is also extremely slow driving the ball, which is why i laugh when he is referred to as a matchup nightmare as a 3. anyone can stop his drive, even pritchard. his jumpshot gets blocked because of poor shooting technique. he hinges the elbow, like a catapult, taking the ball behind his head. this leads to an incredibly slow release. against athletic big men….well, you see the results.

    i wonder why fundamentals like shooting, and the requisite post moves you mentioned aren’t being taught?

  9. Neither Wat or Creek have shots that won’t work in the B10. We all know what Creek is working through and Watford for some reason does not appear to be playing with the same energy as he was.

  10. Maybe this is just my fevered imagination, but when Pritchard was on the floor, IU was the better team. When Pritchard was on the bench, IU was not competitive.

    Best game from Pritchard this year.

  11. Another disappointing loss, no doubt, but let’s look on the bright side: we almost beat a top-20 Big 10 opponent on their home court, a team that was hungry for a victory no less. We’re still winless in the Big 10 but we have been in every game against good competition with under 10 minutes to play. That is an improvement over last year, when often the game was decided in the first 5 minutes.

    We’re one player away from goodness (not greatness). That should have been Guy but the NCAA screwed us. Maybe Creek will improve, maybe Watford will wake up, maybe the entire team will improve gradually and we’ll get some W’s.

  12. I’m not real sure where he could be found but maybe CTC could find Ted Kitchel and bring him in to teach the guys the head and ball fake under the basket then IU could shoot maybe 25 free throws a game. Kitch was definitely 1 of the best i’ve ever seen, and i’m 65 yrs young.

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