LOUISVILLE — The final minutes were too big for IU once again.
More than a week after taking Duke to the wire and faltering late, the Hoosiers couldn’t secure a huge nonconference victory against Louisville. Down the stretch, Louisville made more plays than IU and won 71-62.
“We were right there for 40, 37 minutes until the very end and obviously, a couple turnovers led to some breakout,” IU Coach Archie Miller said. “But it was anyone’s game for pretty much the whole time. We needed to get steps, we needed to find a way to make some open ones, we didn’t.”
After junior forward Juwan Morgan hit a layup to pull IU within five points with 3:37 left in the game, the Hoosiers did not make a basket the rest of the game. Just like against Duke, another ACC foe, IU’s offense disappeared late in the game.
The Hoosiers missed nine of their last 10 shots to finish the game and had three turnovers in the last 58 seconds.
Morgan said the Hoosiers were the more aggressive team for most of the game, but in the last minutes of the game, turnovers hurt them.
"We were the aggressors on those 35 minutes, but it takes all 40 to get a win,” Morgan said. “We just have to put the 40 minutes together.”
IU looked like the better team in the first half.
Late in the first half, the Hoosiers went up by 10 with just under seven minutes to go in the opening period. After that, Louisville ended the half on a 20-11 run to cut into IU’s lead. That run was sparked by Louisville’s 3-point shooting picking up, as the Cardinals hit five 3-pointers in the last 6:30 of the first half.
Instead of going into halftime with a commanding lead, IU only led Louisville by one entering the break.
In the opening minutes of the second half, both teams went back and forth. After Louisville junior forward Ray Spalding hit a three with 15:25 left in the game, IU never led again. For most of the second half, the Hoosiers remained in striking distance, but couldn’t get the lead under three points.
Louisville stretched its lead to eight points in the second half, but the Hoosiers battled back to get the game within reach late in the contest.
IU's front court play was a big reason why the Hoosiers managed to keep the game close.
Miller said he liked the presence his frontcourt of Davis and Morgan provided in the second half. Davis and Morgan were the only Hoosiers to make more than one basket after halftime, and they combined for 21 points in the second half.
Morgan battled foul trouble in both halves and when he was off the court, and it was noticeable for IU.
“I think the philosophy we have to have is next man up, even when I was on the bench," Morgan said. "I did think we took a hit as far as aggressiveness down in the paint. When Justin and Collin get in, we still have to keep the same aggressiveness and keep attacking. It can’t fall off like that.”
While IU’s offense didn’t win the game late, Morgan continued to show why he has become a reliable force for the Hoosiers. At the tail end of difficult five-game stretch, he has emerged as one of IU’s best players whose absence on the court is significant.
“He’s our most consistent player right now and he’s pretty much stuffing the stat sheet regularly over the last month,” Miller said. “Seventeen and nine tonight in 23 minutes against this size, I thought was really impressive. He gives you what you got."
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