There were boos as the IU men’s basketball players ran off the floor. Boos as No. 17 Maryland celebrated on the court. Boos as Maryland sophomore forward Jalen Smith slapped the IU logo at midcourt and head coach Mark Turgeon pulled his star away from taunting the IU crowd.
What seemed to be a game where the Hoosiers would complete the type of large national statement suddenly devolved into the exuberance of an opponent rejoicing on the hardwood of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
There was supposed to be a celebration for a second upset win in as many games. There was supposed to be a celebration for a surefire spot in the AP Top 25 come Monday. But the attitude of a boisterous Assembly Hall crowd flipped in an instant.
Smith made the layup with 14.5 seconds to cap off a 7-0 run and put Maryland ahead for good as it stole a 77-76 win over IU on Sunday.
“I think the last 3:32 of the game, that's when you've got to be really, really tough minded,” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said. “That's when you've got to execute. That's when you've got to know time and score. That's when your communication has got to be at its finest. Little things that on Thursday night went well didn't go well for us in that last 3:32.”
IU showed a different side of itself against Maryland. It was a side that shot the three at a rate unlike it had all season — shooting 9-19 beyond the arc. It fell behind early against a ranked team but found a way to come back even with freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis missing longs stretches because of foul trouble. It was a side that executed on offense in a way only appearing in fleeting bursts throughout Miller’s tenure.
The Hoosiers rallied back from a first half deficit after the Terrapins seemingly couldn’t miss from beyond the arc in the first half. They opened the second half on an 11-1 run to take the lead for the first time. And IU maintained that lead for much of the second half.
But Maryland clawed back. IU has seen second half leads dwindle down throughout its season, but only once before had it led to a loss — at home on Dec. 29 against the University of Arkansas. It happened again Sunday.
“We did enough to win the game,” Miller said. “We also did enough to lose it there at the end.”
The Hoosiers had four players score in double figures, led by senior guard Devonte Green’s 16 points. Redshirt freshman forward Jerome Hunter had his best collegiate game, scoring 12 points, including three 3-pointers.
The Hoosiers exit this week having split their two ranked matchups at home. In the bigger picture, IU is still firmly in NCAA tournament field. The team that was picked 10th in the Big Ten Preseason Media Poll beat Michigan State and very nearly beat Maryland this week — the two teams predicted to finish first and second, respectively.
Entering what may have been the biggest week of IU’s season, a Big Ten head coach described this week as a separation week, a week where the jumble of the Big Ten may start to clear, and teams might emerge as contenders.
That coach was Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, but in a way, he spoke too for every team in the Big Ten.
IU was seconds from separating itself from the middle of the pack and firmly entering the top tier. Smith’s layup — capping a dominant 29 point, 11 rebound day for the forward — made that all vanish.
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