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Three Things: Arkansas 73, Indiana 72

Well that was ugly

NCAA Basketball: Montana State at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

You learn more about your team by taking them into hostile environments. Indiana learned a whole lot about its team and not much was good!

There’s a lot to talk about after that showing. The team still turns the ball over way too much. The offense was non-existent for much of the night. Daniel Gafford is very good at basketball. And despite all that, Indiana had a shot to win the game at the death.

The final possession

Woof. So let’s break down that final possession by Indiana. First, the communication was poor. Romeo Langford looked like he didn’t know the play. Robert Phinisee took over way too soon for the rim, though I’m less bothered by that if he has an opening. I’d rather get a clean look than force yourself to wait.

He was probably fouled on the drive, especially given how the game was being called most of the day. De’Ron Davis had a ton of time to get a shot up and opted for a tip. Gafford probably goaltended on the play. And then the final whistle. In reality, it was probably a foul but it was a tough pill to swallow after seeing everything that wasn’t called in the preceding five seconds.

The refs were atrocious all day. They left an imprint on the game and that should never be the case. The fact they even put themselves in a position to be the storyline of the game should never be the case. Hell, Phinisee should have been on the line considering how an Arkansas player soared over his back for the rebound on the prior defensive possession.

Romeo and Juwan

back to Indiana’s non-existent offense. Tonight showcased a new little wrinkle that could be big moving forward in the Romeo-Juwan ball screen action. Morgan’s ability to either knock down a three or get to the rim makes him a dangerous screener. Langford’s ability in the pick-and-roll makes him dangerous in his own right.

Together, Morgan and Langford kept Indiana alive, scoring 37 points on 12-of-23 shooting including 4-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. The rest of the Hoosiers had 35 points on 15-of-35 shooting overall and 4-of-12 shooting from deep. As dynamic as that duo was, someone else has to step up and make plays on a more regular basis.

Freshman class

I tweeted it during the game but this freshman class could truly be program-altering. All three of Langford, Phinisee and Damezi Anderson have seen big minutes and all have been largely positive on the season.

Today, Phinisee hit an enormous shot late before having the stones to take the game-winner. Anderson struggled today but has been a positive on the wing with Indiana working its way through injuries early in the season.

The trio had big expectations but are somehow exceeding them early in the year. In a day that was frustrating, the freshman class continued to stand out.