The NBA All-Star Game 2010 Weekend won’t begin until Friday, but Wednesday’s IU and Ohio State game at Assembly Hall had the looks of it. There was plenty of dunking – alley-oops, two-handed flushes and a near-perfect windmill attempt by Ohio State’s William Buford. There were a fair amount of 3-pointers shot.
And toward the end of the first half, and for much of the second half, especially, it was a quick-paced, sometimes sloppy game.
Unfortunately for IU fans, it looked as though the Hoosiers signed up for the T-Mobile Rookie Challenge – IU’s team of primarily “rookies” and sophomores were outplayed by the much more experienced Buckeyes.
The Hoosiers were beaten in a number of areas and were dominated inside.
The Buckeyes scored 40 points in the paint, including seven dunks, a number of hardly contested layups from penetration and a number of open looks due to IU not sealing off the Buckeyes in the lane.
“We went on what I called ‘island defense,’” IU coach Tom Crean said. “On the defensive end, you’ve got to cover for your teammates, you’ve got to be alert and you’ve got to block out.”
Buford, who averaged 14 points per game entering Wednesday’s contest, scored 12 first half points and 21 overall. He got to the basket at ease for layups when his jump shots weren’t falling, making up for star guard Evan Turner’s early foul trouble.
Forward Dallas Lauderdale and center Kyle Madsen, a pair that averaged 7.1 points and 2.3 points per game, respectively, combined for 25 on Wednesday.
But it wasn’t necessarily a product of Ohio State playing that well, though there is no doubt the team’s No. 13 ranking and 9-3 Big Ten record are legit.
The Hoosiers simply weren’t there tonight mentally, Crean said.
“I love what our game was about. But it wasn’t about game plan, it wasn’t about anything significant in the fact that we didn’t move well,” he said. “We weren’t alert. We didn’t guard the dribble. We weren’t alert on the backside.”
Although he hadn’t seen a stat sheet, Crean said he felt the team did a good job of handling Turner, a favorite for national Player of the Year honors.
Turner has been the primary reason the Buckeyes are where they are today, but his presence wasn’t all that significant as OSU put together a 12-0 run late in the first to enter the half ahead by 14 points.
“We just broke down,” sophomore guard Verdell Jones said. “We weren’t playing as a team today. We didn’t play team defense, we weren’t playing as a team on the offensive end. If we want to win games against good teams like Ohio State we’ve got to do those things.”
The Hoosiers fared rather well in the early part of Big Ten season, but amidst a brutal schedule – one that includes a game at No. 13 Wisconsin on Saturday and a home contest versus No. 10 Michigan State next Tuesday – it’s a legitimate question to ask when, or even if, another IU victory will come.
Freshman forward Christian Watford said he and his teammates “just didn’t come out ready.”
With a brutal schedule to end the season, the Hoosiers quickly need to figure things out.
I haven’t the slightest clue what that entails, but IU must find some answers if it hopes to compete down the stretch.
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