Hoosiers can’t hold on in 75-74 loss to Gophers

MINNEAPOLIS — Akeem Springs missed. Then he didn’t.

Springs’ forced 3-point attempt from the corner banked off the iron in the waning seconds, then caromed off the hands of a leaping Robert Johnson and back into his grasp.

Given a second chance, Springs did what he couldn’t do the first time. He laid the ball into the basket with 3.2 seconds remaining in regulation, sealing a 75-74 win over Indiana before an announced crowd of 11,658 at Williams Arena.

On the other end, consider it more heartbreak and frustration for the Hoosiers (15-12, 5-9), who dropped their fourth consecutive game and sixth in their last seven.

After James Blackmon’s last-second 3-point attempt missed the mark, and he finished his trot through the postgame handshake line, the junior guard held his head in his hands before assistant coach Rob Judson walked over and threw an arm around his shoulder as the two walked downstairs to the visitor’s locker room.

On a night when Indiana was searching for a palatable response to Sunday’s flat performance against Michigan, the Hoosiers fell maddeningly short — yet again.

“That’s what makes it even tougher,” said Blackmon, who led IU with 22 points. “You just have to have a short memory.”

That may as well serve as IU’s mantra down the stretch, as a short-handed, banged up and error-prone team can’t make enough plays to close games late. Three of the past four losses have been decided by no more than two possessions.

“I am so proud of their effort,” IU coach Tom Crean said. “I know every day what we’re missing. I know every day how far away some of the guys we’re not missing are, in the case of James and Juwan (Morgan). … Our guys came to fight tonight. There’s no doubt about it. Minnesota made one more play. They just made one more play. It was a hard fought game.”

Part of Wednesday’s battle was waged against foul trouble and missed shots. Both De’Ron Davis and Josh Newkirk fouled out, while the team shot 34 percent from the field and 26 percent from 3-point range. Robert Johnson, who came off the bench for the second time this season, went 0-for-6 and finished scoreless.

Crean juggled his lineup, starting Davis alongside Thomas Bryant to help mitigate some of Minnesota’s size and find different matchups off the break. Devonte Green started in place of Johnson.

After scoring the game’s first points on a post-up, Davis didn’t give Indiana much until the final minutes. The 6-foot-10 freshman was in foul trouble all night, and by the time he picked up his fourth personal at the 16:58 mark of the second half he had more fouls than minutes played (three).

“For him to get 10 points in nine minutes and never really get into the flow except for a couple minutes (was still impressive),” Crean said.

Bryant, too, was uneven in the frontcourt. Though he grabbed six rebounds through his first 16 minutes, Bryant didn’t score his first basket until the 9:19 mark of the second half. He finished 3-for-14 from the field for eight points.

Bryant and Davis did combine for the game’s first basket, a post feed that started a 6-0 Hoosier scoring spurt to begin the game. Then, the Hoosiers added their next four points in a quick — and eventful — end-to-end swing.

After missing a layup, Josh Newkirk hustled back and forced a turnover on the other end. That led to an easy layup for Blackmon and a technical foul called against Minnesota coach Richard Pitino. The sequence delivered IU the early momentum jolt it needed, evident by Bryant slapping the floor and hollering to Blackmon on the other end of the floor. Blackmon made both free throws afforded by the tech.

Indiana got sloppy from there, as Minnesota (19-7, 7-6) used an 8-0 to take its first lead, 10-8, nearing the second media timeout. The Hoosiers also lost Davis for the remainder of the half when he picked up his third foul with 9:23 remaining in the half — less than a minute after checking back in after a prolonged two-foul absence.

The teams traded runs to close the half. Indiana opened its largest lead of the game, 22-12, on a 12-0 run at the 7:24 mark of the first half. Minnesota answered with a 13-3 run during the final three minutes of the period, giving the Gophers a 33-29 advantage at the intermission.

Minnesota came out and extended its lead to as many as nine points early in the second half, before a 9-0 Indiana run — highlighted by six quick points by Juwan Morgan — put the Hoosiers back in front, 51-49 with 10 minutes to play.

Back and forth. Back and forth. The game saw four ties and six lead changes in the second half.

Blackmon scored seven points in a four-minute stretch to help IU keep a slight advantage while the Gophers went three minutes without a field goal. Davis also emerged as an important option late in regulation, adding five late points — fouling out Minnesota big man Reggie Lynch in the process.

But Davis, too, eventually fouled out with a minute left, sending Jordan Murphy to the line in the double bonus. Murphy made both shots, putting the Gophers ahead by one.

Trading baskets and free throws down the stretch, Indiana held a 74-73 lead with 17 seconds remaining after a pair of free throws from Bryant.

Then came Springs, the miss and the second-chance that sealed the night.

“When I got the ball, I’m like, ‘Where’s Nate (Mason),” Springs said. “I couldn’t find him so I took a shot. I’m liked, ‘God, I missed!’ I chased it down (and) I don’t know how I finished.”

Neither did the Hoosiers.


  1. Repeating my Live Ticker post:

    Before the clown takes the podium and talks about how hard they played, deflections being up, leaving it all on the floor, just didn’t shoot the ball well, have to watch the film, etc….. I urge you all to rewind the last MN possession.

    Besides Johnson getting over the backed, watch Blackmon & where he is. He’s standing flat footed at the 3 pt. line while his guy makes a cut to the bucket and gets the tipped ball lay-up. And while you’re at it, watch Bryant just standing there, behind the backboard, nearly out of bounds. This, my dear friends, is why we suck. Add this lack of fundamentals to 4 missed layups, 1 missed dunk and a Johnson fast break pass 1 on none to Blackmon go out of bounds and that is why we suck and are in 3rd to last place in the Big 10.

    The refs didn’t help any, but hey, when you suck calls don’t go your way.

  2. I just did, AWinAz! (and I watched the entire thrilling game).

    On that last play, in lieu of blocking out, Thomas Bryant elbows his man in the head, knocking him down. This could easily have been called a foul.

    Juwan Morgan fails to block out HIS man, leading to that Minn. player leaping over Robert Johnwon and knocking the ball out of Robert Johnson’s hands to the Akeem guy who was following his shot (after Blackmon did not block him out).

    And I totally agree that Robert Johnson’s horrible fast break “pass” was a critical play.

  3. H4, your inspiration that Crean’s “blame the player” strategy was going to have our team really performing took a nose-dive this evening. I feel Robert Johnson basically shut down after being humiliated by having his starting position taken away. Crean has lost this team, (if he ever did have its respect). Did you see the Freshman (De’ron Davis) exhibiting disgust at his “teammates” at the end of this one? I feel sorry for our players, but this is no Team. This is a dysfunctional group of individuals performing for a poser of a Coach. I’m ‘hoping for change’. Anyone but Crean!

  4. This was the second televised game in 8 years that I elected not to watch. Guess I just lost interest.

  5. 5-9 B1G Unbelievable!
    Cook Hall is full of athletes with no BB direction. Injuries being the problem as Po likes to allude to have little to do with fundamentals, no half court offense, unforced TO’s and no energy or awareness on D. With substitutions being a sideshow Crean orchestrates with no positive benefit. Any decent Hoosier HS BB coach can teach this team basic fundamentals in Fall practices and during the OOC season. With this program no player pays a price for repeated mistakes on the floor. I’m still struck by a statistic I read, I think on here, 41 IU substitutions during the Meatchicken game! How do you do that? No wonder there is no chemistry created on this team. I fear recruiting difficulties soon. Both with targets and commits. I see only more negative than positive coming with the present HC left in place.

  6. Recruiting has not been that good under T.C. tenure. Yes he has gotten a very few blue chips (high 4 star and 5 star). However, he often gets players 3 star and 4 star players that have newspaper or media headlines and out recruits 2nd and 3rd tier programs to get them along way from Indiana. That should not be.

  7. There is no call in basketball called “over the back”. Show me in the rule book where that shows up. You can call a push in the back, but there is no call for someone jumping higher than someone else and getting the ball. That is the biggest myth and the biggest frustration officiating high school basketball. I hear “Over the Back” at least a dozen times a game and no where in the rule book is there a call for over the back. I hear high school coaches asking for an over the back call knowing there is no call for that in the game. Now, did the guy run into Johnson and push him from behind, possibly. However, seeing how there wasn’t clear space established by Johnson, i.e. blocking out, then there was no “over the back” or push. Players will generally get that push call if they are truly putting the effort into blocking out their man.

    The worst is 3 seconds. Officiating in southern Indiana is fun especially when you have red necks in the stands counting to 3 for you when they don’t know the rule.

    1. A foul is a foul. Is that in the rule book? Johnson jumped straight up establishing his space, & the kid fouls over his right shoulder and knocks him sideways. I watched it 6 times. That was a foul all night. Then there was the rebound foul on Davis that bounced over his guy’s head 15 ft. from the bucket. He only made slight contact with his guy with his hand & it was not pertinent to the play. Or how about the phantom illegal screen call on McRoberts. Guy’s flops his head back & it earns a whistle.

      I’m not complaining about your kin (fellow refs), I just want some consistency. And all year the refs have been perplexing at best.

      The refs clearly weren’t the reason we lost as I pointed out. It was a series of unfortunate events, again.

      Perhaps you should shun the rednecks & give Big 10 refereeing a go. If you’re as good as you say you’d be an improvement.

  8. RJ has checked out . Bryant is a space eater who has no interest nor the skills to work inside . The only points Blackmon cares about are his . He scores 22 and gives up 20 he will never have a interest of any kind to play defense. Good call AZ this team is clueless with exception of Davis he gets it and has fundamental skills and works his butt off while Bryant is a wanabe thug hammering and whinning throughout the game as he continues to self destruct. Morgan will look good then just do something stupid. Green will be good with the right coaching if he doesn’t leave. As well as Jones CTC has robbed him of his confidence. McSwain is a crash and burn guy who struggles to grasp the game at this level. Not his fault he was a panic recruit ! Gelon is a kid that Crean saw have a stupid AAU game and offered never dreaming he would except. The only Indiana kid he could get! And now gets no chance to improve as CTC try’s to hide his mistakes as usual ! I have to admit Newkirk lately has been pretty good. McRoberts good heart limited skills. The issue continues to be the fact that CTC is unable to teach or coach fundamential basketball skills because he does not have them himself. He wants to run and gun score a hundred points to hope to win by one point .He also has shown he has zero knowledge on defense of any kind . He is in denial that Blackmon plays zero defense because he sold his soul to the devil to recruit him and his parents sit right behind the bench and Mr. Blackmon is a coach and has let JBJ just shoot all of his career ! This whole mess is on CTC the team takes the personality of the coach! When he has a lot of talent he looks good but when coaching becomes needed he is lost, He was totally out of his mind on the sidelines last night ! He for some reason is unable to sit on the bench and watch what’s going on in the game . He won’t find any answers in the manila folder he coaches out of ? He has not made a effort to force them to play defense It’s very simple if you don’t play D you don’t play ! If you are losing anyways play the underclassmen and try to build something! CTC recruited these kids and now he turns on them to try and save himself! CTC and the coaching staff own this train wreak ! They let this happen it’s on them. Have to feel sorry for the kids ,leadership has to come from the coaches too ! Jordon Tucker 4 star 2017 according to 247 sport 100% to INDIANA since December has 2 new schools of interest and still has not committed and you know he has to be watching the CTC meltdown. Other coaches are able to adjust for injuries .Our injuries have been huge but to continue to use them as a excuse for poor coaching and play not working .It is what it is! A fundamental block out last night and I.U. wins.

  9. Two things perplex me about this team. Well, several things do, but two stand out.

    1) The turnovers. For years under CTC, this team has been a turnover machine. Yet that doesn’t get corrected. I don’t get it. I remember a couple years back Crean said that at the next practice, they would run for every turnover past a certain amount, but that aspect of IU’s game NEVER improves. How can they place so little value on taking care of the basketball. Blackmon (I think it was him) tried an entry pass late in the game that clearly wasn’t available and of course, it got stolen. That was as much a factor in the loss as anything. TAKE CARE OF THE DADGUM BALL!

    2) Bryant remains a total clod around the bucket. Does anybody on staff know how to work with and coach big men? He positions himself so that when he gets the ball, he’s either too far from the bucket to be effective, or too close. Or he gets the ball 10-12 feet from the hoop, lowers his shoulder and just bulls his way in and throws up a crazy shot. It seems he either expects to get lucky that it will go in, or is hoping for a foul. But nine times out of 10, he could easily get called for a charge with the way he forces himself inside. Does he not know how to take/make a turnaround jumper? Can he not start driving, get the defender going backward, then pull up and shoot a nice, soft little 8-footer over him? He is like a bull in a china shop. It seems that perhaps the talent is there, but that he hasn’t been taught anything. Drives me crazy watching him on offense.


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