The Hoosiers (6-2) were competing with one of the best teams in the nation. They were showing the national television audience that, although young, they are still talented enough to be a contender.
That all went away in the second half. The Hoosiers looked like a completely different team, eventually losing the game 69-52.
So what happened at halftime? Indiana coach Tom Crean said it was too quiet, and he knew the second half wasn't going to be good.
"I don't know if it was the inexperience," Crean began. "I don't know if it's the anxiety. I don't know if we had too many guys who didn't think we could win the game. I don't know if they were shocked that we were in the game. But that was as poor of a second half spirit wise that I've been a part of in a long time.
"I've been in a lot of locker rooms where maybe they didn't have a chance to win but they didn't know it. I've been in some locker rooms that knew they could win the game they just had to play flawless to do so. I haven't been around many good locker rooms that were quiet."
What sticks out to me there is that some players on the Indiana roster didn't believe the Hoosiers could win that game. It's hard for me to imagine that being the case because they were right there at halftime. They had just proven for 20 minutes that they could compete with Syracuse.
You're playing college basketball at Indiana University, a school with six national championships. If you don't believe you can win a game -- no matter who the opponent is -- there is something seriously wrong. I'd seriously question why you're on the team in the first place, and it'd be quite awhile before you played for me again.
It's absolutely inexusable, and frankly, disgusting that some players felt that way.
"We were right in this game, and we didn't stick with what was working," Crean said. "I just wish we came out in the second half and played this thing like we had a chance to win it.
"You don't get this opportunity again. These guys won't get this opportunity again."
Usually in his postgame press conferences, even in defeat, Crean can find a silver lining moving forward. He didn't attempt to in this case. He was as upset as I've ever seen him, and you got the sense he was surprised by his team's demeanor.
When point guard Yogi Ferrell came out to address the media afterward, he was asked about the locker room and whether he thought the team lacked the fight Crean had talked about just minutes earlier.
"It was very quiet. Maybe some guys didn't believe this game was winnable.
"I felt like guys didn't feel like we could win this game. We weren't fighting, we weren't competing. We have to go back to the drawing board on this one."