Road opportunity slips away from IU in 71-62 loss at Louisville

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — For several seasons, it was at the core of Indiana’s offensive identity.

Now, IU’s perimeter shooting is becoming a problem the Hoosiers are struggling to overcome.

Missed shots, coupled with too many bad possessions late in regulation, doomed Indiana in Saturday’s 71-62 loss to Louisville before an announced crowd of 20,030 at the KFC Yum! Center.

This was an opportunity to steal a quality non-conference road win in front of a crowd with split allegiances. The Hoosiers (5-5) started strong and received good minutes from their starting frontcourt duo of Juwan Morgan (17 points, nine rebounds) and De’Ron Davis (14 points, seven rebounds).

But they couldn’t get around a scoreless showing from Robert Johnson and a mostly empty performance from their backcourt.

Indiana missed each of its 12 3-point shots in the second half, going unrewarded for what was otherwise its best road performance in its first three tries.

“Our perimeter shooting in the second half really put a lot of pressure on us in a lot of areas, not being able to stretch the game or make some open ones,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “When it comes down to the last six, four minutes, we just had some really tough turnovers that kind of broke the game open.”

As this Indiana team has adapted to Miller’s style and his approach to offense, it has improved its ability to find and take quality shots.

Getting them to fall is another matter entirely.

IU’s inside-out game has led to shooting opportunities, and the Morgan-Davis tandem has more than carried their share of the load. But after going 5-for-23 from beyond the arc on Saturday, the Hoosiers are now shooting 32.3 percent on the season.

A little more than a month in to the season, this is among Indiana’s worst shooting teams in recent memory.

The 2013-14 team, barren of quality shooters, finished the year at 34.4 percent from the perimeter. Only twice since the 2011-12 season did Indiana have teams that finished with sub-40 percent 3-point shooting teams.

“We’ve got to get that going,” Miller said. “We’ve been an inconsistent shooting team from the perimeter. That has to pick up in terms of our percentages if we’re going to have a chance to play against the competition we have.

“We can’t just throw the ball inside every time down and expect to get two points. We have to have some inside-out and there’s got to be some pressure off of our defense, as well, to stretch the game when you have leads. When you miss open shots, it’s tough to overcome in the course of a game.”

Indiana led for nearly 20 minutes of Saturday’s game, attacking Louisville’s length on both ends of the floor.

The Hoosiers outscored the Cardinals, 32-30, in the paint and established Morgan in the post early, helping them jump out to an early 12-2 advantage.

But Morgan and Davis each picked up their second fouls midway through the period, forcing them to the bench as IU asked for extended minutes from Freddie McSwain and Zach McRoberts.

Indiana led 20-13 when Morgan and Davis went to the bench and carried a tenuous 36-35 lead into halftime.

In the meantime, Louisville (6-2) turned up its defensive pressure, while heating up from the perimeter. With the help of Malik Williams, a 6-foot-11 stretch forward, the Cardinals made each of their final five 3-point attempts of the first half, then opened the second half by making three of their first five shots from beyond the arc.

The Hoosiers failed to supply an adequate response and got sloppy down the stretch. With the game in the balance, Indiana committed five turnovers in the final seven minutes.

Three of those belonged to Josh Newkirk, who scored 13 points, but shot only 4-for-12 from the field.

Freshman guard Al Durham endured the sloppiest game of his young career, committing five turnovers. Durham entered play with merely five errors on the season.

Against Louisville, the margin for error is typically slim — much more so when the shots that are available are not falling.

“You’re not going to get many against Louisville,” Miller said. “The ones you do get, if you’re going to beat them here, you’ve got to step up and make some shots.”


  1. Robert Johnson going scoreless is inexcusable. Didn’t seem like there was much energy in either team or the crowd. Missed out on a great opportunity to steal a decent road win. IU is getting better and that’s a positive we just flat out lack shooting and talent.

  2. The lack of energy in the crowd, may be due to the U of L’s appeal to overturn the NCAA decision vacating their NCAA Championship was filed during the time period the FBI Sting information became public. The U Of L fans are still waiting for the other NCAA shoe to drop on their men’s basketball program, not a good time for the U of L fan base.

  3. Poor shooting often means tired legs. That’s the only thing I can think of to explain RJ’s poor shooting this season. Too much running in practice? Need a deeper bench?

  4. Like HC stated, more defense this year and you have to work for your shot, no more just blasting from the three point line. Robert’s shooting touch has never has looked smooth to me and late last season, he had a long shooting slump. Robert isn’t a pure shooter in my opinion.

  5. I haven’t looked at the minutes but but Archie seems to be rotating minutes through the guard position pretty well. It seems like Newkirk is always in but that might be because I’m holding my breath.

    While I’m sure that the guys put their miles in during practice I would bet that most of the effort is purpose driven drills as opposed to running for running’s sake. Archie doesn’t strike me as a guy who would waste teaching time.

    Shooting slumps are tough. It’s not like you’ll shoot better by trying harder. Rob has shot well in the past but he’s also had slumps. Our freshmen guards seem to have a good stroke. I mentioned before that I was concerned that Newkirk might be mistaken about his new persona as an offensive threat.

    Lots to fix. I like watching this team, though. They try really hard and don’t act out when things don’t go their way. I find I’m not throwing my hands up in the air as much and saying, “WTF?”, either.

    This is unlikely to be a great year but I think that the on court behaviors I’m seeing are the kinds of things that winning programs have. We played Duke and Louisville down to the wire and they did those things better at the end than IU did.

  6. No clutch performers today…No go-to scorers yet to surface. Jay Bilas and his ESPN counterpart said it over and over as the game progressed into crunch time….”Where is Indiana’s scoring going to come from?”

    No moxie. No swagger. No outside arsenal. Some old habits returned in the second half(e.g. loss of composure, too much dribbling, poor decisions). It resembled what happened in the latter stages of Sweet 16 games under Crean. Nobody wants to step up. Confusion.

  7. At this point if Johnson and Newkirk don’t play another minute of IU basketball it won’t hurt my feelings.

  8. My theory on the shooting slump(s)… Shooting is a mental/confidence thing once you get into the game. There are lots of guys that can make shots in practice. Right now instead of playing in the flow of the game and being confident of their exact role, they are mentally working through where they should be on the floor, where the next pass should be, and who coach wants to get opportunities for, is this shot one that coach Crean liked or one Miller will approve of, and then subconsciously how that will affect their minutes.

    I’m not saying that those exact thoughts are going through their heads all the time as they are running around the court, but that they aren’t yet confident enough of the answers to simply be playing and ever get into “the zone”.

    This all just feels like growing pains in many places, and then a lack of lottery-level talent anywhere to take the pressure off the rest of the guys.

    1. they are mentally working through where they should be on the floor,

      Maybe they need a floor made out of Ouija board?

      A couple senior guards should have put all of the confidence issues to bed. Maybe Archie is far more of a behind-the-scenes tyrant than any of us knew? Maybe it’s like going from Mr. “Don’t Squeeze the Charmin” to Mr. “Don’t Squeeze the Kent Harvey”…?
      Or, maybe they’re just more of the typical “upside” inconsistent bricklayers from the East? Confident shooting begins with repetition….beginning at age seven(not seventeen).
      Lastly, it’s inexcusable for any college or NBA guard to shoot 50% from the stripe. That’s a guy who should never be allowed to get off an outside shot to find a “zone.” Make his zone the free throw line.

      Merry Christmas, Geoff.

    2. Yeah, I think you’re on target, Geoff. They, especially Newkirk and Johnson, look so mechanical out there. I’ve always thought of Rob as a pretty smooth basketball player but he certainly looks anything but smooth right now.

      It is just their misfortune that they have been through 3 years of one game and now they have to learn another. Adapt or die.

  9. Oh, and Happy Holidays to all you Hoosiers! Grayson, the wifey and I are enjoying our first real snow of the season… get to snow blow today and make snow angels with the kiddo. Unfortunately its too dry for snowball fights or a fort.

  10. Davis, Morgan, Durham, and probably Smith are the only 4 players on this team that can play for coach Miller. Phinisee, Hunter, Anderson, and hopefully Langford will start from Day 1. This year is about the same talent level as creans 3rd year in, and the current team would be an absolute train wreck if Crean was still the coach.

    The roster is going to get shaken up in the offseason. We already had one kid leave because he couldn’t fit the Miller mold and I’m almost certain he won’t be the last. We have two current roster openings one of them hopefully goes to Langford, but it will be interesting to see what direction Archie goes with the other one. It would be huge for Archie to land a really talented big from a spring coaching change. Also it will be interesting to see if he goes with a grad transfer or a JUCO to even out the class.

    I’m hoping Moore stays and developes. You can see in his face he is young and has a lot of growing into his own body to do. I honestly don’t see Green around after this season. His playground risk taking play probably makes smoke come out of Archie’s ears.
    Starters 18-19
    Hunter /Anderson
    Langford / Hunter

    1. As far as Green goes Miller’s a good enough coach to get a handle on his street ball fallback just like Bobby Knight did when Isiah Thomas came to Bloomington. Arch has to manage the #’s of 2018. Not stimulate and inflate it.

  11. Poor shooting often means the players aren’t good shooters. I don’t think it’s that their legs are tired. I think the problem is they’re just not good shooters. At least not consistently good shooters. They’re not good at the free throw line, they’re not good finishing at the rim, and they’re not very good from beyond the 3-point line.

  12. ^^^In rare agreement with Podunker….Enough bricklayers to start a masons union. And wide standard deviations with regard to accuracy. You’ll see a guy hit nothing but net…and then jack up another three and hit nothing. You’ll witness a perfect free throw…followed by one heading 30 degrees offline from time of release. Stats rarely tell the entire story.. ..A guy going on a bit of roll and hitting 40% from the 3-point range is operating from within a very narrow bell curve…and a very narrow “zone.” When the confidence takes a hit, there isn’t enough shooting samples of “almost” to stop a complete departure from decent numbers(staying within the narrow bell curve/deviation). Does any of that make sense?

  13. Podunker is right regarding the ridiculous “tired legs” excuses. This team is just a very poor shooting team. Interesting comments from Ben regarding the 2018-2019 players. Indiana needs another post player to help with Morgan and Davis. I love the way Morgan plays but Davis is foul prone and plays “ below the rim”. I believe Archie will continue to push Davis to become a better player, and he will get better, but he has noticeable limitations with his game. Another big man is a necessity. Phinisee should start from Day 1, but the other guards are questionable unless Langford signs. There very well could be a turnover of guards that choose to transfer with Durham being the exception as I am sure he fits into Archie’s style. He still needs to improve his shot which now is very inconsistent. IU should be more athletic next year with the new recruits Archie currently has signed. Interesting times ahead.

  14. Have we really already given up the ship for this year…? Talking next year when we only scratched the surface of our Big Ten season? These discussions are beginning to mirror the previous year..and the previous year before that…and the previous year before that previous year.

    You all do know what’s happening, right? IU Basketball has become IU Football.

    Can we just pretend a bit? Can we pretend we are the candy stripes of old and this is a season worth cherishing? I’m getting really, really tired of talking about next year. Next year is just another year closer to the end of years.

  15. what is he status of Clifton Moore?? the guy has disappeared or did he leave program and no one knows it??

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