IU wilts late in 91-81 loss to Duke

It was everything and nothing, the kind of gutsy, fearless performance that Indiana needed against a top-ranked foe.

It just wasn’t enough to beat No. 1 Duke.

The Hoosiers’ valiant effort in the marquee game of Wednesday’s ACC/Big Ten Challenge put a scare into the Blue Devils, but IU’s offense wilted late in the 91-81 loss to Duke before an electric, sold-out crowd at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

As the final seconds ticked off the clock, the remaining fans inside the venerable arena applauded the Hoosiers as they approached the end-of-game handshake line. There was a lot to like about this Indiana team — the one that surfaced Wednesday.

The Hoosiers’ challenge now is turning this performance into the standard moving forward.

“The next step for this team is to bring what we brought tonight, to get better at it and be ready to do that against Michigan on Saturday,” said Miller, IU’s first-year coach. “That’s what it’s about right now. Like I told our team, each and every night, we’re gonna play against a really good team and it’s not going to go away. We have to keep getting better, keep improving. We have to learn from tonight.”

Miller was equal parts encouraged and annoyed in the moments following the loss. Right there in front of him, Miller witnessed his team start to grow up. But as Miller made clear, losing a back-and-forth fight on your home floor — especially one in which you score 81 points — is simply unacceptable.

Indiana (4-3) refused to back down against Duke’s vaunted size and length, and trailed the Blue Devils (9-0) merely 46-44 in points around the rim.

The Hoosiers also committed only nine turnovers, marking the first time since at least the 1996-97 season that an IU team has gone three consecutive games with 10 turnovers or less.

IU’s performance was up to par essentially everywhere but the free throw line, where the Hoosiers went 16-for-26. De’Ron Davis, who posted 16 points, left a few more points on the court, going 4-for-9 at the line and missing some critical foul shots down the stretch.

“It’s just like a turnover,” Miller said. “If you get fouled and you go make two free throws, it’s a different story. You get fouled again and you make two free throws, it’s a different story. The free throw line killed us as much as anything.”

So, too, did IU’s finish, as it went the final 5:26 of regulation without a single basket.

“The last part of the game, we started getting fouled more,” Davis said. “That’s on us to hit our free throws. Although we didn’t match bucket for bucket, we was getting fouled. We knock down our free throws, we’re right there.”

For so much of Wednesday’s contest, Indiana was right there, verging on its first signature win of the Miller era.

The game saw 17 ties and 16 lead changes, fans pulsating around the court as the arena rocked. There was magic in the old building Wednesday night, just not enough of it within the Hoosiers’ reach.

Duke’s Marvin Bagley scored a game-high 23 points, while teammate Grayson Allen added 21. Robert Johnson led IU with 17 points.

Miller compared the contest to a boxing match, with its counterpunches and lunges and ducks. The Hoosiers attacked Duke’s disconnected, flimsy man-to-man defense and were rewarded at the rim almost all evening.

IU started 1-for-7 from beyond the arc and made only 3 of its first 15 3-pointers on the night. But penetration from the perimeter was there for the taking.

That is until Duke went with a zone late in the period. Indiana struggled to respond, at one point going 3:21 without points and missing five straight shots. IU went into halftime trailing 42-38, having missed eight of its final nine shots of the half.

But it was all so encouraging for the Hoosiers, who played the final 15 minutes without Davis in the post. The sophomore’s second personal foul led into the first media timeout, forcing IU to play the balance of the half without its only true answer to Duke’s size and length in the frontcourt.

Buoyed by the electricity of the Assembly Hall atmosphere, Indiana survived some odd and unideal lineup combinations, playing with the necessary grit and toughness required to stand toe-to-toe with the nation’s top squad.

“Team’s improving in every aspect of our game,” Davis said. “We rebounded the ball. We were playing longer stretches. Just gotta finish.”

Duke came out of the locker room looking to assert itself, doing so with tough play from Allen. Indiana, meanwhile, settled for contested shots, while struggling to stay patient for the better looks. It allowed Duke to take a 10-point lead in the first two minutes of the half.

“To start the second half, they really bullied us one-on-one,” Miller said. “… They were going one-on-one right at us. We weren’t able to absorb the punch. Once we calmed down, we came back and dug ourselves slowly, but surely out of it with some good possessions.

Large doses of hustle helped, too. Indiana looked no further than Collin Hartman to find it.

In a two-minute span, Hartman hit a deep 3 to tie the game at 57-all, delivered a couple hustle plays, drew a foul and made both free throws to give IU a 61-59 lead approaching the under-12 timeout.

Hartman passed the baton to Davis, whose aggressive, calculated play in the post kept Indiana in it midway through the half. A Davis dunk off a pretty feed from Devonte Green helped the Hoosiers take a four-point lead at the 6:29 mark

Duke answered with five straight points, as fouls became a factor. On one end, Davis missed a pair of free throws with the game tied at 75-all. On the other end, Duke countered with a three-point play by Wendell Carter and a 3-pointer by Allen sandwiched around two Davis free throw makes to take its own four-point lead.

The Blue Devils didn’t look back.

Now, the Hoosiers can’t either. It’s full-steam ahead, as they attempt to bottle up the energy exerted Wednesday night and turn it into the standard to which it aspires moving forward.

“The intensity level, the physicality that was in there tonight, that’s what it’s going to be like every night,” Miller said. “And it should give us some confidence that if we can compete like this for 36 or 35 minutes, let’s put it together for 40 and execute a little better, make a couple of free throws and see if we can’t win by one.”

32 comments

  1. “3 of its first 15 3-pointers.” And the free throws! Ouch!

    But ladies and gentlemen, we have ourselves a coach!

    1. If IU can hit 73% of its FT’s, that is +3, and 38% of its 3’s, that is +9, then IU wins by 2. Those are average numbers. Just do it!

  2. We have ourselves a coach…? Really? You’re kidding? Did you notice the one we didn’t have for the last nine seasons?

    A month ago (or maybe it was even more than a month) is when I said the major problem that would confront this team would be perimeter shooting.

    1. To follow up on above….

      3PT : 5 / 21 (24%)
      Free Throws: 16 / 26 (62%)

      Though duKe(small case program without K) dominated the inside, they actually shot the ball from the perimeter even more atrociously than IU. duKe was only 3/17 from the perimeter (18%). duKe’s very poor perimeter shooting would have normally opened a door for stealing this game ( if we merely had one guard who could be a consistent and reliable outside threat).

      Final thoughts: I was utterly amazed at how well Hartman played considering his very long absence.

      Was it just my imagination, or was everyone in the ESPN halftime studio(particularly Seth Greenberg and Jason Williams) appearing very perturbed at the shockingly advanced play of an Indiana team pegged to be a disaster? There was almost a look of anxiety on Williams’ duKie pukie face. How on earth could Crean’s B-team keep up with the #1 team in the nation….? Now you know why ESPN ( Establishment and Sports Programming Network ) could never say enough good things about Tom Crean.

  3. This is one of those rare times when I can say that I wasn’t disappointed in a loss. I really like what I am seeing and the team should build some confidence from this game even though it was a loss. Our lack of size in the middle really showed tonight and Duke took advantage of that but what do you expect from a well coached team? Coach K knew that was IU’s weakness and exploited that. I think this team, while not world beaters, will be alright.

  4. Perimeter shooting isn’t what bothers me right now, it is the free throw shooting. 55% won’t cut it at all, but it is fixable. They hit half of the free throws they missed and it is a one possession game at the end and could go either way.

  5. I agree with the free throw shooting. It wasn’t all Deron’s, although he missed the most. If he doesn’t start shooting the better he can expect to get fouled before he can make his moves to the basket. We have some guards that can shoot the 3, Johnson, Green and Hartman a forward but it seems they aren’t shooting well enough. Hope they live in the GYM a little bit more .

  6. Home game. Refs called almost every little foul on IU resulting in 3 point plays play after play which most were. However, little lopsided against IU. (IU missed shots toward end and missed fts anyway where duke finished) Typical when it’s duke. B.K. did have legit complaint in the very early 90’s against refs vs duke in tournament game though B.K. got more than his fair share at his peak until respect for B.K. lessened. NOT ONCE DID A. M. and for most part team complain or use that as excuse.

    1. Aw yes. The Duke mystic. The Refs. I think were a little intimidated by Coach K. I think he talked to one of them at every time out.

  7. To say I appreciate Archie Miller as a coach is not to denigrate our former coach. I’m just pleased that our new coach appears, at this very early stage, to have the program pointed in the right direction and that his players are buying in. The progression of this team appears to be ahead of schedule. That is exciting. But let’s be honest, that’s a function of our very low expectations for this season. And so the question remains, as the Hoosier Nation’s excitement grows over time and expectations increase (as they inevitably will), can Archie or any other coach satisfy the Hoosier Nation’s expectations for its basketball program? I mean, winning two outright Big Ten Championships in a few seasons wasn’t enough for the Hoosier Nation. Making it to the Sweet 16 a few times wasn’t enough for the Hoosier Nation. Signing and developing players that became NBA Lottery picks (while actually getting their degrees) wasn’t enough for the Hoosier Nation. Running a clean program wasn’t enough for the Hoosier Nation. Rebuilding that program from total destruction wasn’t enough for the Hoosier Nation. Can IU sign enough elite players coming out of High School to match a program like Duke, UNC, Kansas, etc.? If not, can Archie develop less-than-elite players so that they can defeat those NBA-talent-laden programs on a regular basis (a la Bob Knight’s teams), such that the Hoosier Nation expects our basketball team to be in the final four on a regular basis? Can a school that requires their student-athletes to actually be real students (at least while they are on campus) and run a squeaky-clean program compete with corrupt programs like Kentucky, UNC, Louisville, etc., that cheat and make a mockery of the student-athlete concept? Can Archie win big enough and at a high enough level before the current crop of elite coaches begins to retire? Or does the Hoosier Nation just have to accept that until Coach K, Williams, Calipari, Self, and Izzo leave the stage, IU won’t out-recruit any of those truly elite programs? We love Archie right now because of his down-to-earth demeanor, the style of play that he coaches (“that’s Indiana basketball”), and the optimism he has created. But will we still love him after a few years when he’s only been able to win an outright Big Ten Championship and fails to lead IU beyond the Sweet 16? Is the disdain for our former basketball coach based on the style of play he coached, or is it based on the fact that he did not lead the program to greater success in the NCAA tournament? Think about it, because while Archie appears to be doing a great job now, will the Hoosier Nation give him the time it’s going to take to get IU Basketball back amongst the elite, or is it simply that at IU, style of play and the coaches demeanor/personality trump winning?

    1. Such nonsense, but so much of it! We all appreciated Coach Crean’s first 2 years clean up. We all appreciate the strong academic counseling program. We all appreciate the 3 SweetSixteens and 2 B1G’s in 5 years. But you can’t shoot your way to an EliteEight or a FinalFour with poor D and excessive TO’s. What about this do you not understand?

  8. Improvement. This team is slowly and steadily improving game by game. That’s something we haven’t seen for years. Mistakes are being identified and the team is being coached. It’s especially reassuring to see Morgan and Davis improve because the complimentary pieces are coming soon. If anything this team is buying into coach Miller. If the listen to Archie they can play with anyone. Buying in is a victory in itself.

  9. It’s so fun to draw out that good old fashioned group-think on The Scoop. What’s the problem, did I ask questions that make some of you uncomfortable?

    BeatPurdue, given your use of the word “we”, please forgive me for not realizing that you speak for all Hoosier fans. Or is just that you’re the appointed spokesperson for the small group of regular Scoopers? And I don’t recall reading many comments expressing appreciation for Crean’s accomplishments over the last couple of years. In fact, in this same string, we still have people taking shots at the man. Many of you were quick to throw the man under the bus less than a year after he lead IU to win his second outright Big Ten Championship. That mindset cost IU’s Athletic Department up to $4 million in severance compensation, but who needs a winning football program anyways, right? We’ll see, over time, as the number of wins intersects with Hoosier fans’ expectations, if my comments above are nonsense or not.

    And HC, the self-appointed expert, authority and arbiter of all things IU Sports, I see that complete sentences and actual paragraphs still annoy you. Sorry HC, but since it’s not a contest, I lose nothing.

    And it ain’t a dead horse, DD. And that was my point to begin with. Are we currently in love with Archie because of the style of play that he coaches, his personality, or is it because we believe he will lead IU beyond mere Big Ten Championships and Sweet 16 appearances? Conversely, was the disdain for Crean due to the style of BB he coached, his personality, or that he did not lead IU beyond a couple of outright Big Ten Championships and Sweet 16’s? Time will tell!

    1. Podunker you are wrong. I have posted for many years on this “string”, often congratulating Coach Crean. I speak for myself, as each of us does, but my 5 drinking buddies at Nick’s share some of what I say. You say “regular scoopers”, “people”, “many of you”, etc. I said “we” meaning anyone else who shares my opinion. Your 4 million figure is wrong as it is over a period of years and is reduced, dollar for dollar, by any income Mr Crean earns that year. Right now ESPN is paying him something. Wilson got only 500,000 total.

  10. Sums it up well. Style, lack of dominance in big ten, unable to win enough big games, unable to recruit enough high level players, lack of player and team development, unable to go beyond sweet sixteen, scheduling low level teams to win more games adding up to making IU men’s basketball to ordinary is not even close to being good enough. Couldn’t have said it better myself.

  11. But as Miller made clear, losing a back-and-forth fight on your home floor — especially one in which you score 81 points — is simply unacceptable.

    I could be mistaken, but wasn’t there just a little bit more following the “unacceptable” explanation from Miller? Didn’t he go on to say “that’s on me” in qualifying what’s unacceptable….?

    You missed on the largest contrast between Archie and the podium rants of the last nine years. This coach is where the buck stops….and that’s the way it should always be at the legendary hoops classroom known as McCracken.

  12. Well at least Harvard provides an explanation for a portion of his disdain for Crean. He left out the biggest reason he never liked him, but there’s no need to revisit that old argument.

    Sorry BeatPurdue, I must have missed those positive comments amongst the blizzard of posts expressing disdain for Crean. I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. Please accept my apology.

    So t, if Archie’s teams significantly reduce turnovers but never win any outright Big Ten Championship or makes it beyond the Sweet 16, does that mean Hoosier fans will hold Archie in higher esteem? I could care less about the number of turnovers a coaches team has as long as they win the games. Nobody was complaining about the number of turnovers IU committed during the seasons when IU won their last two outright Big Ten Championships.

    Why don’t we agree to stop bashing Crean and focus our energies on appreciating Archie and his efforts to lead IU back to elite status? I believe Archie will turn out to be a better coach than Crean was if the Hoosier Nation will give him the time it’s going to take to complete rebuilding IU’s basketball program. But that’s a big if.

  13. The first reason(and main reason for the disdain) was always the public vilification of 18-year-old’s who played for Sampson(as well as the public vilification of Jeff Meyer five years after Crean took the IU job). In the backdrop of what Crean was always vomiting up on his twitter page…? Yes, it was nauseating. Do you see anything similar happening with the UCLA players?
    Has Crean offered any commentary on thieves while at his new gig at ESPN….because he certainly offered none on kids taking fake classes at UNC?

    I also have disdain for caddyshack committee rooms to hire a coach who hires his own AD.

    The horrific coaching on big stages(along with never being accountable/where the buck stops) …while watching nine other Midwestern programs go to a collective 23 Elite Eights(and many to Final Fours)….sorta added disdain to the entire charades of it all.

    Did I mention cue cards and completely abandoning recruiting the state of Indiana?

  14. You will not win big games or beat really good teams very often if you commit turnovers much of the time. You may best lower level teams, and win a less than stellar big ten and cap it off with a few sweet 16s, but that is the ceiling. That is good for most big ten programs….just not good enough for IU.

  15. I won’t blame “Hoosier Nation” if they don’t give Archie the same nine years we ridiculously spent(and overspent) on a coach with an obvious low ceiling. The decade wasted on misfit hoops has challenged the patience.
    I believe Archie understands this train is now on the fast track. He’s not here to make his own name via an Indiana Hoosier billboard to attract a few overlooked latent NBA stars of the future. He’s not here to massage raw talent and raw athleticism for merely his own resume. He’s here to coach, teach, and win titles.
    We have witnessed far too many Midwestern programs reap the rewards in terms of national relevance/March Madness success during our turning of our backs on local talent and the solid relationships once forged with high school programs across all of Indiana(from Albany to Gary).
    With Archie, the game and the team is king. With Crean, the glorification of the singular talent was king; the pageantry of draft night was king. If double talk could win championships, his giant tongue would be stenciled and hanging from the rafters.

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