Another lifeless effort doomed the Hoosiers at Minnesota Saturday afternoon. Indiana fell to the Golden Gophers 84-63, marking its 10th loss in the last 11 games.
The same issues that have plagued them since the new year continued on Saturday. Indiana got off to slow starts to begin both halves. They didn’t have the physicality to guard Minnesota’s forwards and gave up way too many open threes. It was also one of Indiana’s worst shooting performances from beyond the arc.
Somehow, Indiana continues to be mentioned in everyone’s bracketology. Every loss seems to be the nail in the coffin for the Hoosiers, and yet their non-conference resume keeps them in the conversation. Saturday’s loss is another example of why Indiana doesn’t belong in the NCAA Tournament.
Slow starts hurt again
With 11:33 to go in the first half, Minnesota opened up a 23-11 lead. They would hold serve for the rest of the half and keep that 12-point lead into the halftime break.
To start the second half, Minnesota’s Gabe Kalscheur knocked down a jumper and a three pointer to take a 17-point lead just over a minute into the second half. The Hoosiers would never recover.
“We didn’t play with the fight, the urgency that you need on the road this time of year,” Archie Miller said.
Indiana never seemed to be engaged in this game, especially in the second half. After a Dupree McBrayer three pointer with 15:55 to play, the lead never dipped below 16 points. With 13:15 to play, Jordan Murphy slammed home yet another dunk, stretching the lead over 20, where it would stay for the remainder of the contest.
The offensive woes continue
On a day when Indiana only turned the ball over 12 times, most would believe the offense would have been more productive. It was the complete opposite on Saturday afternoon.
It’s usually a pretty good idea to try and get your potential top-five draft pick some open looks. However, against Minnesota, Romeo Langford attempted just six shots. He also attempted four free throws. Langford finished with 10 points.
Juwan Morgan finished 4-of-11 from the floor for 14 points. He missed all three of his attempts from long range.
That was a common theme for the Hoosiers. Devonte Green hit a three to cut the deficit to five in the first half, and Al Durham hit a garbage time three in the final minute. That was it. Indiana finished 2-of-17 from three-point range, a dismal 11.8 percent. That included an 0-for-7 combination of Evan Fitzner and Damezi Anderson off the bench.
As a team, they shot just 37.7 percent from the floor and ended the game with only eight assists on 20 made field goals. Minnesota assisted on 19 of their 28 made shots.
Defensive lapses everywhere
This was arguably Indiana’s worst defensive performance of the season. There were breakdowns inside, with on-ball defending and three-point defense.
Indiana wasn’t the only team that suffered from an incredible performance from Jordan Murphy. He now has eight double-doubles in his last nine games. However, it felt like Indiana had no answer and if Minnesota wasn’t hot from three, he would have been even more dominant. Murphy finished with 23 points and 11 rebounds and went to the free throw line 13 times.
Minnesota also set a new season-high with 12 made threes, finishing 12-of-22, 54.5 percent from beyond the arc. Kalscheur finished 6-of-8 from long range, scoring 20 points for just the second time this season. This game also featured center Daniel Oturu’s first ever three-point attempt of his career—and he made it.
While two of those threes were banked in and another was from Oturu as the shot clock expired, many of them were wide open. There were too many Hoosier defensive breakdowns defending the long ball. Minnesota was shooting 31 percent from three coming into this game, ranking them 12th in the Big Ten.
“Minnesota played a terrific game. Much hungrier team, much more cohesive team today,” Miller said. “We had a lot to do with that.”
Indiana falls to 13-12 and 4-10 in conference play with this latest loss. They will host Purdue on Tuesday.
Is it true that the records are thrown out in this rivalry? Indiana fans better hope so, or else they’re set up for more of the same basketball they’ve watched all of 2019.