The story looks all too similar for Indiana.
The Hoosiers who came into Saturday’s game with an 11-2 record and a promising start to the season killed any feeling of optimism with a 75-59 loss at No. 15 Maryland.
Other than a few decent stretches, Indiana got demolished by the Terrapins. The score does no justice in depicting the blowout. For much of the final six minutes Indiana was trailing by 20 or more and at its worst, Indiana was down by 30, 71-41 with 3:44 to go in the game.
If it were not for Indiana scoring 18 points (almost a third of its points) in garbage time over the last four minutes of the game, the final score would look a lot worse.
There was an abundance of things that went wrong for Indiana. The struggle to score was overwhelming, from all parts of the floor, and as the offense could not keep up early in the second half, the defensive effort on the other end of the floor diminished.
The state of Indiana’s offense right now. Both Anderson and Phinisee are hesitant and don’t fire up open 3s. So the possession keeps working and Phinisee ends up taking a deep, tougher look from 3 as the shot clock winds down. #iubb pic.twitter.com/zOf3BhRVw0
— Ryan Corazza (@ryancorazza) January 4, 2020
The Hoosiers shot a paltry 36.1 percent from the field and did themselves no favors in helping the shooting woes with an 11-for-18 finish from the free-throw line. The 3-point shooting was particularly bad, going 4-for-18 from deep (22.2 percent).
“The ball is not going in the basket,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said. “Whether it’s a layup, whether it’s a free throw or whether it’s a wide-open shot, at some point you have to be able to put it in the basket and we’ve got enough guys that can do that.”
At the same time, the shooting from beyond the arc was even worse than the numbers show. For much of the game Indiana had only hit one three all day. Devonte Green and Race Thompson combined to hit three of Indiana’s four 3-point shots in the final three and a half minutes of the game.
Indiana’s only consistent offensive success came from inside play. The Hoosiers took over eight minutes to hit a jump shot that wasn’t a few feet away from the basket with an Armaan Franklin midrange jumper.
Joey Brunk had a good showing for a little while with nine points and an early impact, but foul trouble limited his effectiveness. Trayce Jackson-Davis had some good moments too, getting seven points but struggled a bit dealing with the presence of Maryland’s Jalen Smith.
While the post play was all right, the guard play was horrible. Indiana’s four guards of Green, Franklin, Al Durham and Rob Phinisee combined for 27 points. Green scored 18 of those 27 points, but 13 of them were in garbage time. The guards’ struggle was evident beyond just the scoring total — shooting 9-for-27 on field goals, 3-for-13 on 3-point field goals and they accounted for just four assists.
All while Indiana had a horrendous offensive day, it was not as if Maryland had a spectacular day to lead to the blowout.
“Maryland’s field goal percentage wasn’t very good today when you really think about playing at home,” Miller said.
The Terrapins shot only 25 percent from deep and made just 38.7 percent of their shots from the field.
Rather than shooting the ball well, Maryland made good use of the charity stripe as the Terrapins made 21-for-25 free throws. Additionally, Maryland took care of the ball, only turning it over seven times for the game while Indiana doubled that with 14 of its own. Maryland scored 25 points off of turnovers, and Indiana only got nine.
— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) January 4, 2020
“Our defense did not create any easy ones on the road you’ve got to find a way to get some easy ones,” Miller said.
The disastrous display against the Terrapins goes to show Indiana’s true colors at this point in time. The soft non-conference schedule has done no favors.
This was only Indiana’s second true road game of the season, and it was by far its worst performance. The other road game was at Wisconsin on Dec. 7, where Indiana had its other worst game of the year and lost by 20.
It’s early, but Indiana’s season is looking strongly reminiscent from last year. Both last year’s and this year’s team started 11-2 before beginning the full Big Ten schedule. Each squad had a game winner to escape with a win in the Crossroads Classic and they both had a signature early home blowout win over a ranked opponent with last year being Marquette and this year it being Florida State.
In the case of Saturday, and all of last season, January is when the team found its biggest struggles and where the wheels started to fall off. If Indiana wants to avoid another disappointing season, figuring out how to combat weak play in the month of January and in the Big Ten is imperative.
“Teams change throughout the course of the season,” Miller said. “Our team is going through one right now, we’ve got to find a way to get back out of it.”