sports   |   men's basketball

IU its own worst enemy in defeat


Freshman forward Christian Watford takes a shot during IU's 73-57 loss to Iowa Feb. 28 at Carver Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City. Peter Stevenson

On Saturday, IU coach Tom Crean told members of the media that “statistics accuse; the film convicts.”

Following the Wisconsin loss, the team went through a film session in which individual players were asked to call out their own mistakes.

Crean might have his team do the same following IU’s 73-57 loss at Iowa, but this team seems guilty until proven innocent.

The Hoosiers can look through the film all they want, but seeing the game and taking a glance at the final numbers is sufficient in explaining the team’s 10th consecutive loss.

IU shot a respectable 18-of-40 from the floor (45 percent), but the team hit five of its last seven and scored 17 of its 57 points in the final three-and-a-half minutes of the game.

Prior to that, IU shot 13-of-33, which is roughly one field goal made every 2 minutes 48 seconds.

Down by 21 at the final media timeout, IU went on a 16-5 run, before 8 free throws by Iowa’s Cully Payne helped justify the final score.

Crean’s Hoosiers showed defensive tenacity via a full court press, as well as a great ability to get the basket. But that type of effort was hardly anywhere to be found for the first 36-plus minutes. On Feb. 16, Michigan State coach Tom Izzo unintentionally gave IU a backhanded compliment in saying he had never seen a team work harder during warm-ups.

That’s essentially the same pat on the back we can give the Hoosiers for their late game effort after getting pounded for most of the night behind by 21 points at Hawkeye-Carver Arena.

Crean also spoke Saturday about stopping opponents from getting scoring streaks to break open games. While Iowa started up 17-4, and later added a 13-3 run early in the second half, IU was by far its own worst enemy.

Two minutes and 40 seconds into the game, sophomore guard Verdell Jones sank a pair of free throws to tie the contest at 4-4.

The Hoosiers didn’t score again until the 9:08 mark in the first half, shooting 1-of-9 from the floor and committing 9 turnovers in the first 11:51 of the game.

You don’t win games if you can’t hit shots. The turnovers didn’t help either, but Iowa did manage to beat IU 58-43 in January despite 21 miscues.

Iowa came into the Sunday contest as the lowest scoring squad in the Big Ten (61.4 points per game),whereas IU was allowing more points than any team in the league (70.9).

Something had to give, and that was IU.

With a Penn State win Sunday — its third in four contests — the Hoosiers are now tied with the Nittany Lions in the basement of the Big Ten.

IU has rights to the No. 10 seed in the case of a tie with Penn State, due to its win in State College in January. But not even that — getting a more favorable match-up in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament — would be a win for IU if both schools close the season without another win.

Maybe the Hawkeyes aren’t as bad as we thought they might be, but that doesn’t make IU look any better.

After the game, Crean seemed pleased with the fight from his team. But as we have seen all year, even if the Hoosiers fight, it only means so much if the team cannot shoot or be smart with the ball.

Surely this wasn’t the worst IU has played, but a loss is still a loss — especially when it’s a team’s 10th in a row.

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