It just wasn't a good afternoon for the Hoosiers on the hardwood Saturday. Offensively, they tied a season-low output. Defensively, the Illini seniors made the most out of the day in their honor by combining for 40 points, 35 of which came in the opening half when they put Indiana away. Inside we take a look at the key events and storylines from the game.
The Illini came out of the gates fast and it was their seniors leading the charge. Mike Davis
opened the scoring with two quick scores at point blank range and then Demetri McCamey
hit two deep three-pointers in the first two minutes of play. The duo would outscore the Hoosiers 17-6 to open the game and after a McCamey three-point play on a driving lay-up, the Illini were up 21-9. They would maintain a double-digit lead the rest of the way.
When It Was Over
It's tempting in a game like this to say it was when the Hoosiers got off the bus. Indiana trailed by double digits for 32 of the 40 minutes of play Saturday. A 24-8 scoring run by the Illini midway through the opening half effectively sealed this one.
It's getting a little tiresome to keep writing this same theme, but once again Verdell Jones
seemed to be the only Hoosier intent on creating scoring opportunities in an effective way. He scored a team-high 12 points and led the team in rebounding with seven boards. No other starter had more than 3. Jones has his flaws, but his fearlessness isn't one of them. If more players were as determined to make things happen as Jones perhaps the Hoosiers would have ended up with more than a season-low 48 points.
Why They Lost
The Hoosiers tipped off at 11 a.m. (CST) Saturday morning, but they came out with defensive effort more indicative of a 5 a.m. start. They looked every bit like a team that was playing their second game in just over 36 hours, but quick turnarounds happen from time to time in college basketball so there's really no excusing IU's performance. They just played flat offensively and without any real resistance or edge defensively allowing a whopping 46 points in the first half, tying a season-high for points allowed in a half.
Meanwhile, offensively the Hoosiers may have shockingly been even worse. Two of their big scorers certainly struggled as Jordan Hulls
and Christian Watford
combined for just 11 points on 1-15 shooting. Indiana only scored 52 points in their win against Illinois earlier this season, but their defense Saturday wasn't going to make their dismal scoring output anywhere near enough.
It was somewhat surprising to see the Hoosiers lay down in the manner they did against Illinois. From beginning to end the Hoosiers showed no signs of competing for the victory. Minutes into the game the outcome seemed pre-ordained. The fact that Indiana could never even manage a short stretch of offensive or defensive success was rather shocking. The Hoosiers never put together five good minutes, or even three really, of good basketball and that was beyond disappointing.
Most Promising Development
The Hoosiers have closed the books on the 2011 Big Ten season and it was a tough campaign as they only won three games in conference play. That included some major milestones in two big victories against ranked opponents and some lowpoints with today's effort being one of them. At least now the Hoosiers can look ahead to the Big Ten tournament and while they have been trending precipitously downward over the last few weeks, perhaps the promise of a clean slate in Indianapolis will re-energize this team.
Most Concerning Development
The previously mentioned downward slide of the Hoosiers is by far the most concerning aspect. The Hoosiers are limping to the finish line and several players just seem flat out spent. Hulls was 0-7 today and has shown no signs of regaining his shooting touch or his aggressive scoring mentality. Meanwhile, Watford seems to be utterly fatigued as well and seems incapable of overcoming the bad left hand he has been dealt. While the struggles of these two hurt the most due to what they were providing to the team heretofore, there has been no one else picking up much slack either. The Hoosiers are slumping as team and share responsbility equally to a man.
The outlook for the Big Ten tournament looks bleak. Regardless of their first-round opponent Indiana will be a decided underdog when tournament play opens. We've seen nothing recently to suggest that Indiana will make any noise in Indianapolis.