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‘We weren’t a together group some of the time:’ Could Indiana’s loss at Duke prove to be a turning point?

DURHAM, NC — It was far from a nice night for Indiana Tuesday in front of a raucous Cameron Indoor Stadium crowd.

The Duke Blue Devils opened up a seven point lead not even three minutes into proceedings. That laid the groundwork for what was to be a long night on the hardwood for the Hoosiers. The Blue Devils were better in every statistical category, save total rebounds and bench points.

Duke opened up a 24-point halftime lead and coasted to a 90-69 win. There weren’t a lot of positive takeaways for the Hoosiers. Part of it might have had to do with the crowd playing a major impact.

“People weren’t running to the huddle,” senior Juwan Morgan said. “Again, I take that on myself. We weren’t a together group some of the time. We looked disjointed pointing fingers. As we go through this kind of adversity, that’s the time when you have to come together, not when you’re up by 30 in a blowout win. You have to come together when you’re down 15 early in the game. That’s the time when it really matters.”

It made it tough to come together with the amount of foul trouble Indiana accumulated in a short amount of time early in the game. Morgan hit the bench with two fouls before the under-16 media timeout, something very similar to what happened in the Arkansas loss. His replacement, De’Ron Davis, also picked up two fouls before the under-12 timeout.

The compounding foul trouble married with a Duke team driving the lane, made the cohesion tough as a team. The rotations once again became discombobulated. Evan Fitzner came in and hit some big shots from behind the arc, but Indiana just didn’t have many answers for a Duke team consisting of three or four lottery picks.

Before Indiana could really catch its breath Tuesday, they were already playing from behind.

“We got to be more sharp and dialed in,” Durham said. “We got to be in tune with the game plan and we have to come out and play hard.”

IU coach Archie Miller pointed to handling the ball as a key concern following Tuesday’s loss. The Hoosiers turned the ball over 20 times. The combination of Rob Phinisee and Devonte Green at the point guard position saw seven turnovers combined.

Miller said he and the coaching staff needs to take a step back with the staff to look at putting guys in better places to be successful, and it starts on improving the offense as well.

The last time Indiana lost by 20 or more at Duke was 2015. That was a season in which Indiana won the Big Ten regular season title. That isn’t to say that will happen again, but it could be seen as a potential rallying point for the Hoosiers.

“Hopefully, like I told the guys after the game, this is an opportunity right now, whatever it is, November 27, you look back on hopefully at some point and say ‘remember that night? We’ve come a long way,’” Miller said. “That’s the important thing, we have a group that has to continue to get back to work, get back to practice. We have a Big Ten home opener on Saturday and that’s what we’re pushing for right now.”

And from a player perspective, this is when the leadership of Morgan and fellow co-captain Zach McRoberts will be important. Indiana may not play a team of Duke’s caliber the rest of the season, but it’s a good opportunity to reflect on the first seven games.

“We just have to go from top to bottom, evaluate each other, look each other in the eye and see if we are really playing for each other,” Morgan said. “As we go forward, we’ll remember this, but no one will really remember it as we get closer to March. As we get better each and every day, I think you’ll see a better team, a harder fighting team.”

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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