Hoosiers struggle in 2nd straight loss to Kentucky

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — After 17 consecutive losses in this classic border rivalry, Kentucky has seized control.

Nevermind that Indiana featured the more talented roster, packed with high-major Division I talent and all around better athletes. In the opening game of this year’s annual all-star weekend, hard work beat talent.

The Hoosiers dropped their second consecutive game in the series, falling 100-89 to their Kentucky counterparts in front of a pro-Indiana crowd at Bellarmine University’s Knight Hall.

The series concludes on Saturday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“If this was like a Saturday night (during the high school season) and we got beat like that and we had practice Monday, they might not want to come,” Indiana coach Jim Shannon said. “We’d have that kind of practice, but we can’t do that. This is supposed to be fun for these kids and I want it to be. I don’t want to be negative and we’re not gonna be negative. We’re gonna be positive, (but) we just got our butts beat. We know that.”

Not only did Indiana miss 3-pointers, bunnies and so many other shots in between, the Hoosiers allowed Kentucky easy, open lanes to the basket all night. Kentucky also beat them from the perimeter, knocking down 13 of their 27 3-point attempts.

Bottom line, an Indiana team with five future Big Ten players — including three headed to Indiana University — was outplayed by a team with no major conference prospects.

“They just played (harder),” Indiana Mr. Basketball Romeo Langford said.

Indiana started in a 9-1 hole before outscoring Kentucky 25-14 across the next six minutes, taking its first lead on Mekhi Lairy’s corner 3 at the 9:54 mark. But Kentucky whittled away at the Indiana advantage over the next three minutes, retaking the lead at 34-33 on Skyelar Potter’s steal and dunk.

By the end of the half, Kentucky’s advantage had grown to 53-44.

An 8-2 Indiana run midway through the second period — during which Bloomington South’s Chance Coyle hit a big 3-pointer — brought the Hoosiers within five points. New Albany’s Sean East stole the ball at midcourt, then drove to the basket to make it 75-70.

“I thought, ‘Here we go, here we go,'” Shannon said. “It just didn’t work out for us. But they were really good tonight. They were really good.

Indeed, Kentucky answered Indiana with a run of its own, outscoring the Hoosiers 12-5 over the next three minutes to rebuild its lead and prompt Shannon to call timeout.

Kentucky’s Markello Sullivan, who will play at Moberly Area Community College in Missouri this fall, scored a game-high 28 points.

“We weren’t playing hard,” Langford said. “They picked it up even more from the first half and we just sat there.”

Although Langford led Indiana with 17 points, he didn’t play up to his standard.

The IU signee shot merely 6-for-16 from the field and missed each of his six 3-point attempts. If there’s good news for Indiana entering Saturday’s rematch, it’s that Langford seldom has two sub-par games in a row.

“It didn’t seem like he was himself, insofar as scoring points and hitting shots,” Shannon said. “He got to the free throw line some. I thought he rebounded well and played good defense, but his shots weren’t falling tonight.

“The scary thing for them now is that they might fall tomorrow night. I’ve never seen him not come out the next night after shooting a little sub-par for him and not really hurl them in. I think he’ll be fine tomorrow night.”

Rob Phinisee finished with 11 points, while fellow IU recruit Damezi Anderson scored four.

Coyle finished with three points, two rebounds and an assist.

“Just forget about this night,” Langford said about his approach to Saturday. “It’s over. We lost. We can’t do anything to change it.”

3 comments

  1. Great lesson for these young men. Hard work and team-play almost always beats better talent.

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