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Slow start dooms IU men's basketball against Indiana State


IU Coach Archie Miller kneels on the sideline during Indiana's game against the Indiana State Sycamores on Friday. This marked Miller's first regular season game as head coach of the Hoosiers.  Evan De Stefano Buy Photos

Reality hit quickly for IU Coach Archie Miller. 

It wasn’t the start Miller envisioned for his first regular season game as the coach of the Hoosiers. Instead of earning his first career victory in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Miller was left to watch as Indiana State dominated IU 90-69 Friday night. 

The first two possessions encapsulated the entire game. IU sophomore guard Devonte Green turned the ball over, leading to a 3-pointer by Indiana State senior guard Qiydar Davis. IU’s bad offense led to easy looks for Indiana State. 

Racing out to an early 10-point lead just over five minutes into the first half, Indiana State controlled the entire game. That quick burst by the Sycamores was never answered by the Hoosiers. 

By the second media timeout of the game, Indiana State was up 13. 

“I think the start of the game really crushed us tonight, it really did,” Miller said. “If you look at the offensive possessions in that first four to six minutes, eight minutes, and you look at the defensive lapses, that thing got away from us way too quick. That’s when we don’t have the ability to figure out how to fix it.”

IU was never able to respond and get the deficit back under 10 points. In the second half, the Hoosiers never even got the game to within 20 points and Miller said he wasn’t happy with his team’s effort to start the second half. 

“That’s not what we are on a day-to-day basis,” Johnson said. “Once they punched we never came together and punched back. And I think that was the deciding factor.” 

For the Hoosiers, allowing Indiana State to make so many 3-pointers was a problem, but IU’s offense struggled to gain any momentum all night long. Miller has talked about how the offense wasn’t fully installed and the players hadn’t fully learned the offensive system. It showed Friday. 

“I think you’re seeing a team that’s having to learn to play a new way and they don’t know how to win yet doing it this way,” Miller said. “I make no excuses, Indiana State was ready and Indiana wasn’t.” 

Without senior forward Collin Hartman, who was out with a groin injury, IU’s offense lacked any shooting punch. The Hoosiers went four of 18 from beyond the arc and struggled to get open looks. 

IU’s two senior guards, Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson, both failed to effectively lead the offense. Combining to shoot four of 15, the pair turned the ball over six times. 

“In the half-court when we’re not in transition and we’re not able to get defense into offense, we struggled,” Miller said. “It’s an unsure team of when to pass, it’s an unsure team of when to shoot and it’s an unsure team of how to dribble.”

IU has to move on quickly from the loss as the Hoosiers face Howard on Sunday night and face No. 23 Seton Hall on the road Wednesday. 

Miller is using this loss as a learning experience for his team. 

“We do not come out of the gates mentally tough,” Miller said. “That’s tough, you have to find a way to win hard games. You have to go through some of these moments right here with guys and they’ll remember this game for a long time, with some of our younger players. Hopefully it will set the tone for how you have to do things moving forward.” 

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