LOUISVILLE — As one team got hot Saturday afternoon, the other cooled down.
Both Louisville and IU began the day as poor shooting teams, and neither did much to change their reputations. But when it mattered most, the Hoosiers racked up the misses while the Cardinals found timely makes from behind the arc.
The end result was an 0-12 performance from 3-point range for IU (5-5, 1-1 in the Big Ten) in the second half as Louisville (6-2) pulled away late for a 71-62 win. After the game, IU Coach Archie Miller was more than willing to blame the nonexistent shooting for his team’s demise.
“Our perimeter shooting in the second half really put a lot of pressure on us in a lot of areas, just not being able to stretch the game or make some open ones,” Miller said.
IU more than held its own down low. The Hoosiers’ two leading scorers, sophomore forward De’Ron Davis and junior forward Juwan Morgan, combined to shoot 11-17 inside the 3-point line. IU won the points in the paint battle, 32-30. It was 3-pointers that swung the momentum, and ultimately the game.
Louisville began by missing 10 of its first 11 shots from deep, and it appeared the Cardinals would shoot even worse than the 33-percent team 3-point percentage with which they came into the game.
But they made five of their final six 3-point attempts in the first half and went into the break trailing by just one.
After halftime, Louisville went on to make just three more 3-pointers, but IU’s misses became the bigger factor. The senior backcourt duo of Robert Johnson and Josh Newkirk missed all seven 3-pointers they shot in the second half.
Even when they were wide open, the confidence appeared to be lacking.
“I’m sure that of the 12, most of them were pretty good looks,” Miller said. “Some of them, obviously, looked really good.”
Morgan said his teammates needed to do a better job of establishing the post presence early and often. Morgan has now led IU in scoring in each of the last three games, and there’s only so much more he can do. But the Missouri native is ready for more responsibility.
“We have to just keep pounding the ball in the paint,” Morgan said. “I think we’ve done that a few games. We don’t do it as much or as efficient as we need to.”
Miller, on the other hand, said IU can’t afford to simply rely on its big men on every possession. Entry passes can set up kickouts from Davis and Morgan, who are both skilled passers. But at the end of the day, the Hoosiers need to do better than the 5-23 performance they delivered from 3-point territory Saturday.
IU’s 3-point percentage has now dipped to 32 percent for the season. In each of the last three years, that figure was at 38 percent or higher. Miller’s Hoosiers have shown improvements on defense and in taking care of the ball, with turnover numbers down across the board.
Now, he needs his shooters to step up with regularity.
"We’ve been an inconsistent shooting team from the perimeter,” Miller said. “That has to pick up in terms of our percentages if we’re going to have a chance to play against the competition that we have.”
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