Upon Further Review - Connecticut

Bloomington, Ind. - A closer look at Indiana's 68-63 loss to Connecticut, including our choice for the game's MVP as well some of the most surprising, impressive, and concerning things to come out of the contest...

Game MVP - Armon Bassett. There weren't many highlights for the Hoosiers, but one of them was the play of Bassett, who finished with 18 points, three assists, two steals and zero turnovers in 36 minutes. The Hoosiers got little going offensively other than some shots from behind the 3-point arc, and Bassett led the way with of 6-of-8 effort from deep. Three of those 3-pointers came in the final 1:30 as Indiana tried to battle back against the Huskies. Bassett is now shooting a Big Ten-best 55.7 percent from 3-point range on the season (37-of-67) and is 13-of-16 from deep over the last three games. There was a time when the IU staff was concerned whether Bassett would need season-ending surgery due to bone chips in his ankle, but he's now played at 30 minutes in each of the past three games. Bassett has benefited a great deal from the attention opposing teams are giving D.J. White and Eric Gordon, and he's on pace to challenge Pat Graham's single-season 3-point percentage mark of 56.9 percent set in 1993-94.

Biggest Surprise… Indiana not only had zero answers to UConn's size, but also had nothing to counter the Huskies' energy and resolve. The Hoosiers raced to a 9-0 lead behind a trio of 3-pointers, the kind of body blow that could have put away the Huskies considering the absence of two of their top seven players due to suspensions. But from that point on, the seventh-ranked Hoosiers were dominated by their Big East foes. Connecticut played with more heart and passion than the Hoosiers on both ends of the floor, and as a result IU's 29-game homecourt winning streak came to a halt. Indiana couldn't come up with stops when they needed them in the second half, and other than some late 3-pointers from Jordan Crawford and Armon Bassett, had few answers on offense as well. Credit goes to UConn for how it responded to adversity, but plenty of blame needs to directed IU's way as well for a uninspired effort.

What I Found Most Impressive… From an IU perspective, not much. Jordan Crawford came off the bench in the second half and hoisted a couple of deep 3-pointers to keep his team within shouting distance, and Bassett did the same in the closing minutes. But the impressive performances on Saturday were turned in by Connecticut. Huskies' point guard A.J. Price turned in a gutty 14-point, eight-rebound, six assist effort that included a couple of very big 3-pointers that halted IU rallies. Hasheem Thabeet kept D.J. White out of the paint and also forced numerous point blank misses from IU due to his presence. And Connecticut refused to give up after IU raced to a 9-0 lead in the opening minutes. It was an effort that you have to applaud…unless you're an IU fan.

What I Found Most Concerning… What happened to the Hoosiers' "identity?" A couple of weeks ago IU Coach Kelvin Sampson pointed to his team establishing an identity based on its ability to rebound the basketball. That was sorely lacking Saturday, as the Huskies owned a 44-28 edge on the glass, the worst beating an IU team has taken since Iowa out-rebounded the Hoosiers by 17 on Feb. 3, 2007. UConn's frontline of Hasheem Thabeet, Stanley Robinson and Jeff Adrien combined 34 points and 27 rebounds and dominated the interior on both ends of the floor. D.J. White pulled down 10 rebounds, but no other frontcourt player was a contributor on the glass. Mike White had three offensive rebounds but couldn't get a shot back up over the Huskies' frontline, while DeAndre Thomas and Lance Stemler combined for one rebound in 19 minutes.

Turning Point: The Hoosiers had hoped to retake the momentum in the opening minutes of the second half, but instead missed eight of its first nine shots and the Huskies' lead ballooned to nine. Thabeet and Robinson were huge during the stretch - Thabeet scored on a pair a putbacks and had a block, while Robinson had a block as well and connected on a 3-pointer. That set the tone for the remainder of the half, and IU was never able to get to game down to a one-possession contest the rest of the way.

"Basketball is a game where you have to play it together. You can't play it by yourself. Probably for the first time all year…it is uncharacteristic for this team." – IU Coach Kelvin Sampson

"All I'm interested in is this team bouncing back, learning from our mistakes, not dwelling on our mistakes or talking about how poor we are. We were bad today. There will be other games for us to be great in." – Sampson

"I've had Emeka Okafor, Travis Knight, these are all NBA centers, Josh Boone, Hilton Armstrong…any progress they made would pale in comparison to a kid (Thabeet) who hadn't touched a basketball four years ago." - Uconn Coach Jim Calhoun

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