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Monday, June 17
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

No. 14 Indiana men’s basketball loses game of runs to No. 10 Arizona in turbulent matchup

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LAS VEGAS — If The Clash in Las Vegas was Mt. Everest, No. 14 Indiana men’s basketball was a mountain climber, eager to embark on a new, ambitious journey. The Hoosiers had the skill, preparation and mindset to prove they were up to a tall task and the support system of an energetic crowd and environment to back them up 

It just so happened that there was a ferocious Wildcat on the same path, as No. 10 University of Arizona pounced on and pried at Indiana every chance it got. 

Indiana's second loss of the season and in eight days was a game of runs – a back-and-forth affair filled with both sparks of hope and sighs of defeat. 

Arizona started with its foot on the gas, putting together a 17-0 run over a 4:14 span at the beginning of the first half. During that time, graduate guard Xavier Johnson was on the bench after two quick fouls. 

Johnson, who finished the game with 11 points and 11 assists, ended the Hoosiers’ scoring drought when he checked back into the game at the 11:44 mark and sank a pair of free throws. 

“When X picks up fouls early, that hurts us,” Indiana head coach Mike Woodson said. “We got down early, but I thought we fought. I can’t fault (Johnson). I thought we gave great effort. You’ve got to give a lot of credit to this team –– this Arizona team is a great team.” 

Johnson was the Hoosiers’ biggest source of strength, energy and grit all night, and his two free throws sparked a strong effort. Indiana answered Arizona with a 22-9 run, highlighted by three three-pointers from graduate forward Race Thompson, and cut a once-19-point deficit down to five. 

A positive end to an ugly first half was as close in sight as the peak of a mountain after an inspired trek. But the fast approach of the villainous wild feline clouded the Hoosiers vision of reaching the final goal. 

Arizona went on a 10-5 trip to the end buzzer of the first 20 minutes. The Hoosiers’ deficit had doubled, and spirits weren’t high. 

But they kept fighting. 

Indiana started the second half on a steep incline, forcing two Arizona turnovers and turning them into four points.  

The raucous crowd full of Hoosier faithful erupted, prompted by the energy-inducing Johnson gesturing emphatically to his audience. But, in what became a common second-half theme, the Wildcats were able to steal the show in one foul swoop. 

Every time Indiana pieced together a handful of hard-fought points cutting Arizona’s lead down to 7, 5 or 3, the Wildcats answered with a dagger 3-pointer. Even though both teams shot 10-25 from beyond the arc, Arizona’s makes came at the most soul-crushing and deafening times. 

The roars of the crowd bounced back and forth between “I-U” and “U-of-A,” but no amount of clamor could top the sequence of events that occurred at the 9:13 mark in the second half –– except this momentum swing came at the hands of the men donning black-and-white stripes. 

The referees made a statement run of their own, missing a goaltending call on a floater from junior guard Trey Galloway which was mere fingertips from going through the hoop. They sequentially called a flop and technical foul on freshman forward Malik Reneau, who was violently bodied in the post on the other end of the floor. 

With every step the Hoosiers took, the Wildcats kicked them five feet down. With every new breath Indiana exhaled, Arizona delivered a punch to the mouth. 

But they kept fighting. 

The Hoosiers went on an 8-0 run after the back-to-back controversial calls, cutting their deficit to five again. Still the Wildcats crept, crawled and clawed their way on top of their deflated opponents thereafter, delivering senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis a not-so-friendly elbow to the cranium in the process. 

Jackson-Davis scored four of his 11 total points after the blow, showing the same weathered heart that the Hoosiers displayed all night. Easy layups, commonplace free throws and vehement dunks by the Wildcats put them on top for good in the last two minutes, though. 

The will was there, but the way was too far gone. 

A final score of 89-75 was the result of the bumps, bruises, slashes and scratches galore that any hopeful adventurer is bound to experience in a rough domain. While the Hoosiers got stepped on more than they’re used to, they got back up every single time. 

Indiana got its first dose of tumultuous times tonight in an ugly loss, but how it continues to respond to adversity will be the telltale sign of the program’s nature. After all, the mountains will vary in size and the weather conditions will change, but it’s the heart of the hiker that determines how far they can truly climb. 

Follow reporters Evan Gerike (@EvanGerike) and Emma Pawlitz (@emmapawlitz) and columnist Bradley Hohulin (@BradleyHohulin) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season.
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