1. FIRST HALF WAS PROMISING: The Hoosiers (6-2) fell behind 10-0 early, and everybody was thinking: 'Here we go again.' But a young Indiana team continued to fight, and battled back to within four points by halftime.
During that time, a number of players were impressive for the Hoosiers. Freshman Noah Vonleh was terrific defensively and really controlled the paint. Yogi Ferrell made back-to-back huge 3-pointers against the treacherous Syracuse zone. Hanner Mosquera-Perea came off the bench and scored a bucket. Troy Williams had a highlight putback dunk.
The Hoosiers did a lot of the things they failed to do a year ago, and found themselves within striking distance against the No. 4 team in the nation at striking distance.
2. BUT THE SECOND HALF WAS ... Pick whatever word you want here. Ugly. Frustrating. Disappointing. They all work. The Hoosiers, again, looked like they had never seen the Syracuse zone. They turned the ball over time and again, and let Trevor Cooney dominate them on the other end. Before you knew it, Indiana was down 20 and the game was over.
Sure, this team is very much a work in progress because it is so young, but the resilient first half had you expecting more in the second, and it just never materialized. The Hoosiers didn't get many opportunities in transition, they missed the open shots they did get, and they looked hesitant against the long zone.
The Hoosiers turned the ball over 16 times in the game and made only 15 field goals, three coming in garbage time late.
3. VONLEH IS A BEAST: Maybe we already knew this before Tuesday night, but Vonleh continues to be impressive every time out. He truly belongs in these elite games, and he is without a doubt one of the top freshmen in the country.
Vonleh was one of the very few bright, consistent spots for the Hoosiers on this night. He scored 17 points, pulled down six rebounds, blocked three shots, and got the the foul line 16 times (he made 13). Vonleh was a dominant presence on both ends of the floor against one of the biggest teams in the country. He is going to be a special, special player.
4. ETHERINGTON DIDN'T DESERVE EJECTION: It certainly didn't factor into the outcome of the game, but sophomore Austin Etherington was ejected in the second half after fouling Cooney on a breakaway in transition. Etherington pushed Cooney with his left hand and hit the ball with his right, and Cooney crashed hard into the padding underneath the basket.
For what it's worth, Etherington definitely didn't deserve to be ejected. He went for the ball, got the ball, and fouled Cooney hard. A flagrant one would have been plenty, but the officials ruled it a flagrant two after viewing the replays. I'm still not sure how they came to that conclusion.
5. INDIANA WILL SEE MORE ZONES: I don't think there's any doubt other Big Ten coaches have watched the way Indiana has struggled against Syracuse's 2-3 zone the last two times and thought about doing the same thing to the Hoosiers. I'm sure we'll see other conference teams zone Indiana this season. Why wouldn't they? The Hoosiers offense has been very stagnant against zones in the past.
No player other than Yogi Ferrell has shown the ability to consistently make 3-point shots. I thought Will Sheehey would be much more of a factor from there, but he really hasn't been, save for late in the game against LIU-Brooklyn. That is going to continue to be a problem for this team going forward.
But the Hoosiers will be able to stay in a lot of games this season because of effort, athleticism, and rebounding. They will simply need to learn how to win close games.