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IU's guards fall just short against Maryland


Junior guard Robert Johnson scrambles to protect the IU net against Illinois on Saturday night. Johnson's last-second effort to tie the game against Maryland on Tuesday came up short, and the Hoosiers lost 75-72. Victor Grössling Buy Photos

Junior guard Rob Johnson, overcome by frustration, lay crumpled on the court.

Johnson’s attempt to tie the game and send it into overtime against Maryland had just fallen short.

In a battle Tuesday between two teams looking to avoid their third conference loss, IU fell to Maryland, 75-72.

IU’s guards carried the Hoosiers by scoring 55 of IU’s points. Five different guards helped IU contend with Maryland’s prolific junior guard Melo Trimble.

“Our guys did a great job,” IU Coach Tom Crean said on the post-game radio show. “We wouldn’t trade anything about the shot at the end with Robert. It just didn’t go.”

Early on IU in the game the Hoosiers were sinking quickly.

Down seven in a hostile environment, IU’s offense was as hapless as it had been during the three-game losing streak. For the majority of the first half, IU couldn’t buy a basket against Maryland. The Terrapins imposed their will and swatted away countless shots.

That was before freshman guard Curtis Jones brought the Hoosiers back into the game.

Before Jones hit his two 3-pointers in the first half, IU had made one of its last ten and opened its first Big Ten conference road game six-of-23 from the field. Maryland looked like it was getting ready to run IU out of the building.

Jones had done this before. Against Kansas, the freshman stepped up big time down the stretch to help IU win the game with his 3-point shooting. While he didn’t score another basket against Maryland, those six points helped IU stay in the game and have a chance to win.

Before the game, IU talked about how it had to limit Trimble. The Hoosiers didn’t do that, and Trimble was able to score 18 points and get to the foul line for 10 free throw attempts.

Jones led the stabilization efforts, while junior guard James Blackmon Jr. helped IU climb back into the lead late in the first half and nearly won the game for IU in the second half. Blackmon’s two quick fouls to start the game limited his first half production to nine points in 12 minutes, but he caught fire in the second half and added 13 more points.

He hit three of five shots from 3-point range.

Junior guard Josh Newkirk was another reason IU was still in the game in the first half. He had seven points and zero turnovers. However, his effectiveness was muted in the second half, and he only had two points. Freshman guard Devonte Green added five points and had some strong plays in the second half for the Hoosiers.

“We weren’t sure until this morning if he was going to play, and he did an excellent job,” Crean said.

However, as prolific as the guards were Tuesday scoring the ball, they combined for nine turnovers and only had three assists among the five. They did a good job of creating shots for themselves, but there wasn’t enough ball movement or passing to set up other teammates for open looks.

Along with their turnover problems, they only got to the line once in the second half and struggled to drive the ball.

While the Hoosier guards were the bright spot in the loss, they weren’t able to help IU get the road victory.

“This is an incredible atmosphere,” Crean said. “More than ever we need to keep making Assembly Hall, just taking it to another level. They’re pulling out all the stops here. I say that with a level of respect. It’s hard to win in this league. It’s hard to win on the road.”

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