In my game preview, I laid out what I considered to be three crucial keys to victory if Indiana wanted to pull off a big upset in Madison Square Garden.
Let's see how they fared:
- MAKE SHOTS. Indiana actually did a pretty job of this in the first half, going into the locker room with only a five-point deficit thanks mostly to hitting 7-10 from distance. But legs got tired and players more desperate in the second half, and the Hoosiers hit only 1-10 in the second half. James Blackmon Jr., who was hitting over 50% for the game, made his first 3PT attempt and missed the next seven, finishing 1-8. For the game, the Hoosiers shot 54% eFG, which is awesome considering Louisville is holding opponents to 37.9% in that metric. But it wasn't enough because they simply didn't get enough shots off to make it matter, and that's where the next two things come into play.
- DON'T PANIC. The Hoosiers turned the ball over at a 24.7% clip for the game and questionable shot selection lead to even more given away possessions that won't show up in the box score. Stan Robinson was the primary culprit in the turnover department, giving away the ball five times in just nine minutes of playing time. There were also a handful of times where Troy Williams' decision-making with the ball in his hands led to either a straight-up turnover or an ill-advised shot. Yogi Ferrell, despite our wishes to the contrary, cannot play 40 minutes, but when he went to the bench the Hoosiers seemed helpless against Louisville's full-court pressure. The sequence of three straight turnovers followed by four straight offensive rebounds was maddening to witness. When Yogi needs to rest, who can we count on to handle the ball? Crean has shown a willingness to move Yogi off the ball and turn it over to Robert Johnson, should he be the guy when Yogi leaves the court? The other option is Stanford Robinson, who has shown flashes of excellence (29.3% assist rate) along with stroke-inducing mistakes (27.6% turnover rate). RoJo's has the same issue as well, (20.8% ARate / 24.5% TORate) so we may be without a real answer for awhile. Yogi leads the team in minutes played and it's not particularly close, do you extend him even more at the possible sacrifice of quality? It's not an easy issue, but Indiana needs an answer soon.
- CRASH THE GLASS. Indiana finished with 34 rebounds (10 offensive) while Louisville brought down 52 (26 offensive). The ridiculous offensive rebound discrepancy combined with Indiana's turnovers contributed to Louisville getting eighteen more shot attempts over the course of a game. A quick way to even up the playing field when you're playing a less-efficient offense is to give them more chances to hit shots. Eighteen more shots drastically increases Louisville's margin for error, and it was already decently big to begin with.