It was ugly, and yet great basketball at the same time. A thrilling November basketball game.
The Hoosiers played poorly, climbed back late, and came up just short in a 59-58 loss to No. 18 Connecticut Friday night in the championship game of the 2K Classic at Madison Square Garden.
The Hoosiers (5-1) had two opportunities to win the game in the closing seconds. First, after a timeout, sophomore point guard Yogi Ferrell dribbled around and settled for a fadeaway jump shot from the elbow area.
Jeremy Hollowell was in position for the rebound, but UCONN's Shabazz Napier knocked it away. There was a scramble for the ball, and Indiana ultimately ended up with possession with just 0.7 seconds remaining.
After a timeout from each team, Hollowell inserted the ball to freshman Noah Vonleh, who failed to get a shot off before time expired. The Hoosiers wanted to throw a lob to freshman Troy Williams, but it wasn't there.
It was a thrilling game, but ultimately the Hoosiers lost for a couple key reasons.
First, they were simply unable to stop Napier down the stretch. The UCONN senior finished with 27 points on 10-of-14 shooting. Napier did anything and everything he wanted late and continued to put the Huskies (6-0) ahead when Indiana took the lead.
Second, the Hoosiers got virtually nothing from their two standout freshmen, Vonleh and Williams. Vonleh was sattled with foul trouble all night and failed to score a single point. He had two rebounds, four fouls and four turnovers in limited minutes.
Williams wasn't in foul trouble, but he didn't have nearly the impact he did on Thursday night against Washington. After scoring 22 points on Thursday, Williams finished with two points on 1-of-4 shooting.
And third, the Hoosiers were loose with the ball in the first half. They had 12 first-half turnovers, and finished with 17 for the game. Simply too many against a team as good as UCONN.
Ferrell and senior Will Sheehey were the only Hoosiers to score in double figures. Ferrell finished with 19 points and five rebounds, but shot just 6-of-19 from the field. He was 2-of-7 from beyond the arc.
Sheehey had 12 points and four rebounds on 4-of-8 shooting.
It was a great college basketball game, especially for being so early in the season. Long term, I think this will have been a good night for Indiana. The young Hoosiers were forced to grow up in a hurry, and they never stopped competing. No Vonleh, no Williams, and the Hoosiers didn't quit. Stop Napier one time, and they win the game.
Indiana is further along than most thought it would be at this point, and that's the biggest thing we learned in New York City over the last two days.