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Loyola Md. Greyhounds 72, Indiana Hoosiers 67: awful first half dooms IU.

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Here are the stats.  Stats are of limited use in games like this, where one team dominates one half and the other team dominated the other.  On paper, this looks like an even game, but essentially was dominated by one team or the other for the duration. 

The first few minutes of the first half were the worst I have seen IU play against any opponent ever.  If I am forgetting another horrific start like that, even against a great team, please remind me.  IU did not score until the 13:43 mark, when it was already 15-0.  With 10:30 remaining, they trailed 24-4.  From that point forward, the offense improved, and IU played relatively even with Loyola for the rest of the game, but gave up 22 points in the second half of the first half.  At halftime, IU had 8 field goals, 6 offensive rebounds in 18 opportunities, and 14 turnovers.  I wouldn't have like it, but could have accepted it, if this had happened against Kentucky.  Against Loyola?  I really don't know what to say. 

Certainly, the Hoosiers can take some pride in the comeback and their unwillingness to give up, but I can't take much solace in a comeback that never should have been required in the first place.  IU is an immature team, and despite Tom Crean's warnings about what could happen, it happened.  After IU did take the lead at 65-62, after a punishing press forced Loyola into 15 second half turnovers, the Hoosiers scored only two more points, and missed 4 free throws and 2 shots in the final 2:55.  Loyola deserves much credit for hanging on. 

Jeremiah Rivers played well for most of the game, but overshadowed his career-high 15 points by missing four free throws in the final three minutes.  Maurice Creek spent part of the first half in the defensive doghouse and scored only 9 points and committed 4 turnovers.  Christian Watford struggled again, with 3-11 from the field and 5 turnovers. 

This game settles one thing: we can stop thinking about postseason play.  Even if IU beats Bryant, the Hoosiers would have to go 10-8 in the Big Ten to be assured of a winning record, and absent a miraculous turnaround, that isn't going to happen.  This remains a young team, with only 6 seasons of previous D-I experience on the roster.  Unfortunately, that youth has cost IU three winnable games this season, and we can only hope that the experience changes things next year.