Here's the box score. The difference between this year's team and every other IU team I've ever watched is the lack of confidence that this one inspires. I don't mean that as an insult to the team or the coaching staff at all. If Tom Crean can continue to get this sort of effort from his future teams, it's inevitable that IU will return to the elite of college basketball. What I mean is that even in what we used to consider a mediocre year, there was always the sense that if the Hoosiers hung around long enough, especially at Assembly Hall, they would win. Last night, even when IU had a couple of shots at the lead late in the second half, there was always the sense that this team just didn't have the experience to finish off a team like Michigan State. Unfortunately, that proved true.
If my math is correct (Pomeroy's updated numbers aren't ready as I write this post), this was a 60 possession game, and the teams' numbers were strikingly similar across the board. Both teams turned the ball over 14 times. MSU shot just a touch better from the field and from the line, and rebounded somewhat better. It was a competitive game, much better than anyone could have imagined, but it's hard to take much solace in competitive at this point. IU has been somewhat competitive in most of its Big Ten games, but has only one win to show for it. I'll try to come back later with some Senior Night coverage. For now, some individual notes:
- Verdell Jones continues to emerge as a scoring threat, scoring 15 points on 12 attempts, but he still turned the ball over four times. His future role probably won't be as a point guard.
- Nick Williams scored 11 points on 7 attempts.
- Kyle Taber, in his final game at Assembly Hall, reprised his do-no-harm 2007-08 performance: 3 points on 1-1 from the field and 1-2 from the line, 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, no turnovers.
- Malik Story, forced into action by Devan Dumes's early ankle injury, scored 11 points on 12 shots and continues to show glimmers.
- Tom Pritchard was there, but not there. He played 31 minutes, but didn't make much of an impact, good or bad, on the box score. He scored 2 points, had three rebounds, 2 turnovers, a block, and assist, and a steal.
Now, it's on to Wisconsin for the regular season finale. The Big Ten standings are fairly tight in the middle, and so it's difficult to project who IU might play next Thursday afternoon in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament.