Ohio State 69, Indiana 52: horrid play on both ends of the court dooms Hoosiers.

Here is the box score.  What to say about this one?  IU looked physically overmatched from the beginning, stymied and frustrated at the offensive end, and lost, completely lost, on the defensive end.  The Hoosiers had a golden opportunity because Evan Turner ended up on the bench with two fouls very early in the first half.  Still, a 12-0 run to finish the first half, sans Turner, gave OSU a 14 point halftime lead and IU never got closer than 10 in the second half (and trailed by as many as 25).  Certainly, I knew the Hoosiers probably would lose, but only a week after taking two of the Big Ten's leaders to the wire, I really thought IU could be competitive on its homecourt, particularly when Turner departed early. 

The box score shows a number of ugly numbers: 37 percent shooting, 9 blocks by Ohio State (including 7 by Dallas Lauderdale alone), 50 percent from the line, only 12 offensive boards compared to 27 defensive boards by Ohio State, 14 turnovers compared to 6 for Ohio State, and so on.  Really, I'm not sure the stats tell the story of how ugly this one was, particularly because IU did not see Ohio State's best offensive game.  The Buckeyes did shoot nearly 50 percent from the field, but only 2-10 from behind the arc.  Dallas Lauderdale typically is a complete butcher on the offensive end, but IU managed to make him look like Tim freaking Duncan  last night: he scored 14 points on 7-9 from the field while doing even more than his usual shot blocking. 

 

There were few individual performances that stood out.  Jordan Hulls did no harm, at least, scoring 13 points thanks to 3-3 three point shooting, but no one really created much offense at any time.  Both Verdell Jones III and Jeremiah Rivers took poor care of the ball.  Jeremiah Rivers continues to make really bad decisions on a routine basis, both passing and shooting.  Honestly, as Rick Pitino likes to point out, a 19 foot jumper (just inside the arc) is the worst shot on the court because it's essentially a three in terms of shooting percentage but yields only 2 points.  It's a bad shot for anyone, but particularly for Rivers, who can't shoot. 

I don't envy Tom Crean's position.  I'm sure there is some impulse to absolutely ream this team, but at least publicly, he's not doing that yet.  I can understand the risk of simply breaking the psyche of the team.  Unfortunately, they may already be there.  This is pure pop psychology, and I'm not in the locker room, of course, but from the outside it appears that the gutwrenching losses to Purdue and Illinois, rather than encouraging the team, have broken it.  I can understand that the losing takes a toll, but these guys can be better.  Jeremiah Rivers can make better decisions.  Tom Pritchard can make a free throw.  Verdell Jones can take care of the ball.  All of the players are capable of remembering their defensive assignments.  Unfortunately, none of those things happened against Ohio State.

So, what's next?  Who would have thought that the win at Penn State could be the last win of the season?  Unfortunately, the schedule gets much worse.  IU plays at Wisconsin this weekend, then hosts MSU, then goes to the Barn at Minnesota, then hosts Wisconsin, then goes to Iowa (the Hawkeyes are improving and whipped Northwestern last night) and on and on.  It's tough, I don't know what can be done, and I'm glad Tom Crean is getting the big bucks to figure it out.

I really mean that.  There have been some suggestions on other sites that IU fans are growing disenchanted with Crean.  I don't sense that at all.  There is a lot of grumbling about the team's play, which is inevitable for a fan base that has never seen anything like this.  I went to last night's game with an old college friend, and as we sat there at halftime, I said, "you know, I don't think we were ever down by 14 at home to anyone the entire time we were in school."  What's tough to swallow about this is that we IU fans thought we were in the wilderness before, with only one trip beyond the first weekend of the NCAA Tournament from 1995-2008.  I know I'm whining, but so be it.  This isn't Crean's fault, but I hope he can find a way out of it.

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