Monday’s 92-72 loss to Fort Wayne in Bloomington was like déjà vu for the IU men’s basketball team.
Maybe it was the fact that the Mastodons were another small, in-state, mid-major opponent. Or perhaps it was the presence of one of the Scott brothers, this time Bryson instead of Brenton.
Whatever it was, Monday’s loss was way too similar to IU’s season-opening home loss to Indiana State for IU Coach Archie Miller and the Hoosiers.
Despite all the eerie physical similarities between the Mastodons and the Sycamores, the real reasoning behind the two games being carbons copies of one another was obvious— IU shot themselves in the foot by committing 18 turnovers on the night and allowing Fort Wayne to get hot from behind the arc, shooting 17 of 30 from three.
The Mastodons’ 17-made threes tied the Sycamores’ record of the most by an IU opponent ever in Assemby Hall and IU’s 18 turnovers was one behind its season-high, which came in the Indiana State game as well.
“We just have to remember when we have Indiana across our chest, no matter who we’re playing or where we’re playing, they’re coming to win,” senior forward Collin Hartman said. “When we don’t show up and we don’t play the way we practiced, it’s just going to be one of those nights.”
Although Fort Wayne seemingly couldn’t miss from downtown, it wasn’t just their pure skill that made their shots fall.
The Hoosiers fell asleep on defense multiple times, disrupting their rotation in the half court and forcing themsleves to lose track of their defensive assignments.
That, and the open opportunities off of IU’s turnovers led to a multitude of open looks for the Mastodons. Fort Wayne scored 29 points off IU’s turnovers compared to just seven points off turnovers from IU.
“A lot of their open looks came off of turnovers in transition while we’re helping and not running our defensive schemes,” Hartman said. “When you see those first few shots go in, as a shooter, it’s hard not to miss after that.”
In the first half, all eyes were on the reigning Big Ten Player of the Week in junior forward Juwan Morgan, who was coming off a 34-point, 11-rebound performance against No. 18 Notre Dame on Saturday.
However, most of his time in the first half was spent on the bench as he only played six minutes after picking up two early fouls.
Senior guard Robert Johnson managed to catch fire, scoring eight straight points at one point to help IU take a 37-36 lead into the half.
Even after Morgan slammed home the first points of the second half with a dunk in transition after a nice feed from sophomore guard Devonte Green, Fort Wayne caught fire and never let up.
The Mastadons improved upon their seven of 13 shooting display from three in the first half by bludgeoning the Hoosiers with a barrage of triples, outscoring them 56-35 in the second half.
They went 10-17 on threes in the second half while IU went ice cold and wound up just 4-24 from behind the arc for the game.
Miller said the Hoosiers’ offensive struggles were a problem for them the entire game, but defensive lapses in the second half were what ultimately doomed them.
“We really lost our assignments in the second half,” Miller said. “In transition, we got caught not being ready a few times. In the half court, we lost our man two or three times but more importantly, I thought we were paralyzed by our offense.”
Johnson and Morgan were the only two Hoosiers to hit double figures with 17 and 14 points respectively. IU did manage to win the rebounding margin 46-31 behind 12 boards each from Morgan and Hartman.
Fort Wayne’s hot shooting was just too much for IU to recover from. Junior guard Kason Harrell had a career night, shooting 6-11 from three and leading the Mastodons in scoring with 28 points. Senior guard Bryson Scott, whose brother Brenton scorched IU with 24 points for Indiana State earlier in the year, contributed 26 points of his own.
Junior guard John Konchar (16 points) and freshman forward Dylan Carl (14 points) also lit it up from deep by going 4-7 and 4-5 respectively.
It all culminated in what was another devastating and embarrassing home loss for Miller and the Hoosiers.
The hangover from their 80-77 upset victory over Notre Dame has settled in. The Hoosiers now find themselves 6-6 on the year and 0-2 against Fort Wayne and head coach Jon Coffman in the past two seasons
“I think handling success is a lot harder than getting kicked in the face,” Miller said. “I didn’t sense that from our team in the last 24 hours. I did sense that we weren’t playing in-synch out there and I think once we watch some tape, we’re going to see some of the decision-making and some of the opportunities that we had offensively were selfish.”
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