IU falls to UConn, 59-58

WHAT HAPPENED: Despite a number of bad breaks, including foul trouble that kept freshman forward Noah Vonleh out of the game for all but 10 minutes, Indiana had the ball and a chance to upset No. 18 Connecticut with 21 seconds left in Friday’s 2k Sports Classic Championship game.

Freshman guard Yogi Ferrell missed a jumper, and after the ball went out of bounds but stayed in the Hoosiers’ possession, Vonleh missed a jumper from the left elbow, giving Connecticut at 59-58 win in front of 10,051 at Madison Square Garden. Connecticut’s Shabazz Napier was named tournament MVP with 27 points in the final while IU sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell and senior forward Will Sheehey were named to the all-tournament team.

WHO MADE IT HAPPEN: Napier was the only Connecticut player in double figures, but that ended up being plenty. He made big shot after big shot, hitting on 10 of 14 field goal attempts and four of six 3-point attempts. He scored on fadeaways, pull-ups, and cross-over step-backs, hitting just about anything on which he could get separation.

And when the Huskies needed him to and he wasn’t getting much other offensive contribution, he took over. Indiana went up 51-46 with 5:15 to go, but the Huskies outscored Indiana 13-7 the rest of the way and he had a hand in 11 of those points. He scored three of the Huskies last four baskets, including a driving left-handed layup for what turned out to be the game winner and he also hit forward DeAndre Daniels for an assist on the other basket.

The Huskies did get other contributions from elsewhere. Ryan Boatright had three points and three assists to go with four rebounds and three steals, but he was just 2-for-9 from the field. Daniels had seven points and six rebounds, though he was 2-for-8 from the field.

Connecticut did get important contributions from players that didn’t show up as much on the stat sheet. Backup forward Tyler Olander had four points and four rebounds in 24 minutes, but more importantly provided solid post presence and kept the Hoosiers from going crazy on the boards. Guard Lasan Kromah defended IU’s Yogi Ferrell late in the game and didn’t shut him down, but did make it more difficult for him to score.

For IU, Ferrell tried to go toe-to-toe with Napier and had some success, scoring 19 points. It wasn’t extremely efficient as he was just 6-for-19 from the field, but he hit several big shots, including a three-point play in the final minutes, and he took a charge to set himself up for what would have been the game-winning basket. Sheehey was also solid with 12 points, five rebounds and three assists.

Senior guard Evan Gordon gave solid minutes with six points in 19 minutes and decent resistance against Napier. Freshman forward Devin Davis posted seven points and seven rebounds in 21 minutes.

WHY DID IT HAPPEN: Napier, obviously, is reason No. 1, but Vonleh’s foul trouble was critical for Indiana. The Hoosiers still won the rebounding battle, but in order to defeat a team like Connecticut with such an advantage in terms of experience and shot-making on the perimeter, Indiana needed to win big on the boards. Vonleh, who had four straight double-doubles in his career and was one rebound away from making it five on Thursday night, obviously helps in that regard. Without him on the floor, Indiana won the rebounding battle 35-33, but that was the first time this season the Hoosiers didn’t win by 13 or more on the glass.

The Hoosiers still did score more points in the paint that Connecticut with 28 points to Connecticut’s 22, but that was also a season low and the Hoosiers only had six field goals outside the paint to match what Connecticut was doing. The Huskies were just 6-for-19 from beyond the arc, that was still double the number of 3-pointers Indiana made. The Hoosiers also got four more points at the free throw line than Connecticut, but that certainly would have been more if Connecticut had to deal with the 6-foot-10, 240-pound freshmen, who isn’t exactly automatic at the line, but who gets there a lot.

That wasn’t Indiana’s only problem. The Hoosiers turned the ball over 19 times, and got some uneven performances from a number of players. Troy Williams’ absence late was a bit inexplicable, but he still wasn’t having his best day with just two points and 24 minutes. Jeremy Hollowell was 2-for-7 from the field with three turnovers and didn’t add much defensively. Still, Vonleh’s absence tipped the scales, allowed Connecticut to play at the pace it wanted to and to allow Napier to take over the game.

WHAT DOES IT MEAN: There are worse losses for this Hoosiers team to take. Without the player who has already become their most powerful force, they went toe-to-toe with a top 25 team led by an all-league player who could sneak on to some All-America teams this season. They did not have the advantage they thought they would have and they still hung in there on a big stage early the season before really defining an identity.

That they weren’t able to pull off a victory is also significant because this could have been a major milestone and one that could have made a huge difference come tournament time. The victory over Washington, while valuable from a number of standpoints, isn’t going to be the sort of win that will carry them in that regard like the Georgetown victory bolstered IU’s resume for a No. 1 seed a year ago. Still, for this young group, falling to UConn by one point in the Garden is more of a reason for optimism than pessimism.

 

8 comments

  1. Nobody mentions we played on less than 24 hrs rest.

    Also that we had app 3 hrs less than UConn (an advantage BC had over Univ Washington too)

    Also although less important, we were much further from home.

    Interesting though that in all 4 games the closer team won.

  2. Definitely had the best fan base there… Love it when announcer says “where are we, Assembly Hall?” It felt like it watching on TV… Seemed like a 10:1 noise ratio for the Hoosiers.

  3. while the refs are resetting the clock to .07 and debating whether the UConn player called timeout before sliding out of bounds I am thinking: when did sliding on your ass while holding the ball stop being traveling? did he not drag his pivot cheek?

    crean calls timeout to draw up a last second play and i’m thinking this should be good. doesn’t know how to attack a zone but he’s going to draw up a special with .07. then Ollie calls time and crean scribbles some more. then crean calls time. more scribbling. got to be kidding. I tell my wife we probably won’t even get the ball inbounds. sure enough, one ineffective screen which has no chance to put a player in a catch and shoot position. and a bunch of guys standing around and praying like coach taught them. compound that with hollowell, a turnover machine, inbounding the ball, and there you go. nearly a five second call. forget about Jeremy as backup point guard. he doesn’t have it.

    speaking of backup point guards, did anyone else see Gordon bring up the ball yesterday getting bumped from behind the whole way by a UConn player trying to pick his pocket. surprisingly Gordon made no attempt to protect the ball. in fact, he seemed oblivious to the UConn player altogether. of course the ball was stolen from behind.

    a little disappointed in the way sheehey has taken care of the ball all season. not good for a senior.

    last thought. basketball is becoming an ugly game on offense. endless high ball screens and driving to the hoop over and over. parade to the free-throw line. the game used to be a thing of beauty with off-ball screens and plays and well thought out strategies. I do miss it.

  4. Coach, I am not too sure what games you have been watching, but Will is playing great: 27/52; .519 FG%; 4.5 reb; and 14 A/ 13 TO (only Yogi 25/15, and Austin 2/0 are positive with Will). Last night he was 3 A/1 TO (the only Hoosier positive besides Austin 1/0 on his great feed to Troy). Using Peegs Box Score, IU and U Conn tied in rebounding 38-38, and almost all of the other stats were very close, except U Conn had 18 blocks plus steals while IU had only 5. That was the game! I loved how IU competed all game long, no matter which players were in the game. For the last play(s) (22 seconds), you give the ball to your best player and PG, Yogi, and he creates. Last night Yogi could not win the game (6/19, 2/6, 19) and Napier could and did (10/14, 4/6, 27)! But no PG in the B1G is as good as Napier.

  5. I didn’t say will is playing bad. just careless with the ball. I know he is down for 1 turnover but he is throwing a lot of bad passes this season. when they are deflected and we ultimately regain possession, that isn’t recorded as a turnover. i’m sure he’ll do better.

  6. I agree w/ coach, stats on Sheehy doesn’t tell the story: he’s made some poor decisions: taking ill advised shots especially 3 pt shots early the count. Looks like he thinks he’s “The Star” of the team. Not to mention poor defense. He’s better bringing some energy off of the bench. I told my son my to send McClain down to the U Conn bench to set up their defense that last 0.7, then we could run the play the Illini did to beat us last season. Was Hanner sick or injured? Ne’s not going to get better sitting on the bench.

  7. DD- Is JD Campbell well liked? He seems like one of those uptight guys who has a menial role but acts like it’s the most important thing on planet earth aka takes his job too seriously

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