Making sense of Indiana's unusual week

Indiana beat Wisconsin on Tuesday, lost to Northwestern on Saturday. Welcome to the roller coaster that is Indiana basketball this season.

Wow, what a debacle that was. Indiana upset No. 3 Wisconsin at home on Tuesday. It had everybody saying its season had turned for the better.

So you'd figure an ensuing home game against lowly Northwestern would give the Hoosiers even more momentum in the Big Ten, right?

Wrong.

The Hoosiers laid a giant egg at Assembly Hall on Saturday, falling to the Wildcats 54-47 in easily their worst game of the season. Instead of heading to Michigan State with a 3-2 conference record and three straight wins, Indiana will limp to East Lansing at 2-3 in conference, 12-6 overall, and with its ego severely damaged.

Welcome to the roller coaster that is Indiana basketball in 2013-14.

"We weren't mature enough to handle a great win and come in here and play the way we needed to play," Indiana coach Tom Crean said afterward. "If it was legal to practice at midnight, we would. It's not, so we'll start when it's legal, tomorrow morning. But we're not gonna sit back and look at any part of this being acceptable.

"The distractions of a big win caught us."

The Hoosiers were dismal offensively in the first half, and they were dismal for the game. They shot just 25 percent from the field, took jump shots at times when they shouldn't have, and rarely worked the ball around enough to find open shots.

But the worst part about it is, even after all of that, Indiana was still in great position to win the game. After everything, the Hoosiers were ahead 38-35 with 7:15 to play. It was 40-40 with 3:40 to go. They still had the opportunity to grab an ugly win and move on to Michigan State.

But when they continued to miss shots, the Hoosiers dropped their heads, sulked a little bit, and didn't play as well on the defensive end. Walk-on Jeff Howard came on in the second half and did an admirable job on Northwestern star Drew Crawford. He was a big reason Indiana got back in the game.

But then Yogi Ferrell, this team's leader and the hero of Tuesday's upset win over Wisconsin, allowed Tre Demps to score 13 consecutive points and effectively win the game for the Wildcats. Ferrell, frankly, looked disinterested on the defensive end because of his 2-of-14 effort on the offensive side.

Crean called Ferrell out without mentioning his name afterward.

"You can't be driven by your offense, in the sense that when your offense is not there, it affects every other part of your game," Crean said. "That happened too much, and it happened with our oldest guys. It happened with, I'm not going to use to term 'leader' because I don't think we appeared like there was a leader today. It affected us on the defensive end. We have a long way to go."

Who knows where Indiana's season goes from here. With this team, you never really know what you're going to see on any given night. But what is abundantly clear after a bad loss to Northwestern is the momentum Indiana had gained from back-to-back comeback victories has been erased, and then some.

What happens next? Well, your guess is probably as good as mine.


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