It was a career-game for Yogi Ferrell, and it still wasn't enough.
Why? Late turnovers proved costly for the Hoosiers in an 83-80 overtime loss at Illinois on Tuesday afternoon.
Ferrell scored a career-high 30 points -- the first Indiana player to score 30 or more points since Christian Watford in 2010-11 -- but he and other Indiana players made critical errors down the stretch.
Ferrell was charged with six turnovers in the game, two of which came late in the second half with the game tight. On back-to-back possessions, Ferrell appeared to be looking for Hanner Mosquera-Perea, and threw reckless passes.
I went back and rewatched the entire game, paying close attention to Indiana's turnovers. By my count, 18 of IU's 23 turnovers were unforced and careless. Ferrell had four of those, including a palming violation in the first half.
Indiana freshman Noah Vonleh, who played a good game overall but was straddled with late foul trouble, also had costly turnovers late. He was called for a lane violation on a free throw, a travel, an offensive foul, and had the ball stripped on a rebound late.
"That's ball security," Indiana coach Tom Crean said of Vonleh. "It's something that eventually we won't do. We didn't do it last year. It's just gonna take some time for us to understand that everything matters.
"I think we all know that we have some turnover issues. We're trying to correct those. We just lost the game by three points. We had some costly turnovers in the game. We have to slow down a little bit. We have to play fast, but we've got to play with a better pace."
Still, Ferrell and Vonleh showed why they are Indiana's top two players, and they will have to carry the Hoosiers this season. Ferrell was incredibly impressive for much of the afternoon, and before he got in foul trouble, Vonleh had his way inside.
Ferrell played the entire second half and all of the overtime period.
"I'm more impressed with how tough he played, and the fact that he didn't come out of the game in the second half or overtime," Crean said when asked about Ferrell's 30 points. "I thought we played over our mistakes turnover-wise maybe better than we have in the past. We've got to keep getting better with that."
Lineup change coming?
Crean went away from his starting lineup late in the game against Illinois, and he admitted afterward that he came close to changing it before the game.
"Jeff Howard was a potential starter going right up until the beginning of the game for us, and that was before yesterday, that was last week," Crean said. "But he has not been as healthy as he needs to be."
Howard has already started a game this season. He still entered fairly early in the first half against Illinois. Of Indiana's starters, Jeremy Hollowell and Troy Williams are the most likely candidates to be replaced going forward.
Hollowell really, really struggled on Tuesday and hasn't played all that well lately. He was scoreless on 0-of-6 shooting, missed two good looks from beyond the arc badly, and turned the ball over four times in 24 minutes. Hollowell turned it over twice while trying to inbound the ball in the first half. He did have six rebounds.
Williams played better than he has of late, finishing with eight points and four rebounds on 4-of-7 shooting.
Other than Howard, freshman guard Stan Robinson is also a candidate to enter the starting lineup soon. He played a season-high 19 minutes on Tuesday and guarded Illinois star guard Rayvonte Rice down the stretch.
I second guessed Crean for putting Robinson on Rice yesterday, but I have to admit I was wrong now. After rewatching the game, it was actually the right move. Robinson guarded him the best. Rice scored only four of his 29 points against Robinson on 22 possessions (16 in the second half), making only 1-of-6 shots against him.
Robinson did take a couple of questionable shots late, and also missed free throws.
"Stan is strong enough to deal with that forearm push off that he does," Crean said of Robinson on Rice. "Stan's a tough guy and in the last seven games he's got our highest plus-minus. He's been moving up the ladder for us and we're very confident with him moving forward."
There's no question Indiana and Illinois is now a bitter rivalry. It heated up even more after Eric Gordon decommitted from Illinois and ended up at Indiana a few years back.
But I thought things got a little out of hand late on Tuesday. The ESPN2 cameras didn't catch it, but Rice stood near Crean late in the game and appeared to be talking trash to the Indiana coach.
He eventually walked toward midcourt as Illinois' Tracy Abrams shot free throws, and after Abrams made the first to put the Illini up four, Rice turned to Crean, winked and smiled.
I just thought it was extremely disrespectful and never agree with an athlete saying anything to a coach. I didn't like that at all.