The delusions of many, including me, that IU is a legitimate top 10 team, came to an end Saturday night against Xavier, which absolutely manhandled the Hoosiers for most of the game. The 15 point margin of defeat is the worst of the Sampson era and only the second double digit defeat since Sampson arrived (the other was at Purdue last year, 81-68). While IU competed in that Purdue game, leading at a couple of points in the second half, Xavier dominated last night's game essentially from wire to wire.
I'm not exactly on suicide watch. I think that game played out about as well as it could have for Xavier. IU suffered its worst shooting of the season, finishing at about 38 percent. Certainly, Xavier deserves credit for that, but IU also had trouble finishing the good shots that were presented. Of the six Hoosiers who played 20 or more minutes, five had four personal fouls. Eric Gordon was out of commission with three fouls for the last seven minutes of the first half, and DJ White had three by the end of the half. I don't mean to detract from Xavier's performance, which was outstanding (and wasn't aided by lights out shooting, either--X shot only 45 percent), or to minimize the concern that this game raises about IU's interior defense and ability to generate shots against a quality opponent.
Perhaps the only good news was that DJ White finally looked like himself. White scored 16 points on 7-9 from the field and managed 10 rebounds. Eric Gordon managed 20 points on 12 shots, but shot only 4-12 from the field and had three turnovers. Other than White's, there simply isn't another pretty stat line in the box score. Perhaps the ugliest belonged to Jordan Crawford, the freshman point guard who had been surprisingly reliable in the first four games. Crawford was 3-13 for six points with 2 assists and 3 turnovers.
Xavier shot only 45.9 percent from the field, and 4-12 for three point range. Drew Lavender performed well against his old coach, scoring 13 points on 9 shots and 6 assists compared to 2 turnovers. BJ Raymond managed 19 points on 12 shots.
Stats: The pace: about 67 possessions, basically on the national average from last season. Points per possession: .97 for IU, 1.19 for Xavier. Rebounding: IU rebounded 17 of its 40 misses, for a nice percentage of 42 percent. That's a pretty major turnaround considering IU's overall offensive rebounding numbers this season. IU entered the game ranked something like 300, while a 42 percent rate is top 20 material. Of course, missing a bunch of bunnies generates offensive rebounding opportunities, but that is something to watch. The IU box score continues to be suspect on this matter, however. Xavier missed 33 shots. The box score credits IU with 25 defensive rebounds and Xavier with 16 offensive rebounds. What gives?
IU is entering a crucial stretch of the non-conference schedule. Tuesday, IU plays Georgia Tech in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. Saturday night, IU plays at Southern Illinois. After a gimme against Tennessee State midweek, we then play Kentucky at Assembly Hall a week from Saturday. Two weeks from today, we will have a better read on this team, and hopefully will have seen the Hoosier show more than they showed against their first quality opponent of the season.