If you merely checked the final score of No. 15 Indiana men’s basketball’s 90-68 loss to Iowa on Tuesday night, you might be left wondering what on Earth happened. While I’ll do my best to fill you in throughout the next 600 words, Indiana head coach Mike Woodson could probably do it in eight.
“They came in here and kicked our ass,” he said. “It was that simple.”
I’ll spare you the in-depth analysis of just how poorly the Hoosiers played, but needless to say it was a night fans would love to strike from the record. Indiana was completely outclassed from tip-off to buzzer, a sobering reminder of just how low things can go for a team with dramatic upside.
It certainly wasn’t the Hoosiers’ worst start to a game this season, but that’s kind of like saying norovirus isn’t the worst foodborne illness. The Hawkeyes led 47-36 at halftime while shooting 61% from the floor and 7-of-12 from beyond the arc.
Every Iowa 3-pointer hit the audience at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall like a dose of Valium, quickly smothering any energy. Junior forward Kris Murray annihilated the Hoosier defense with 26 points on 56.3% shooting, including five 3-pointers.
When the Hawkeyes took a 17-point lead with 4:30 remaining in the first half, the crowd was less Assembly Hall during a basketball game and more Hodge Hall during an especially spicy managerial accounting lecture.
Even a halftime performance from Bloomington-based country singer Hank Ruff and the RedSteppers dance team could only do so much to reinvigorate the arena. I guess Ruff instructing you to “shake it for me” while Indiana is losing by double digits might not have been the jolt of energy the crowd needed.
A dunk by senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis to open the second half was the last true high point of the contest for Indiana. The Hawkeyes then outscored the Hoosiers 43-30. It was a righteous beatdown the likes of which seemingly only Iowa can deliver.
Last school year, I watched Indiana lose to Iowa in devastating fashion in football, men’s basketball, women’s basketball, baseball and probably a few sports I’ve forgotten — I don’t follow equestrian super closely, but I have to assume the Hawkeyes’ horses absolutely dominated the dressage judging. It got so bad my friends and I started using the word Iowa as a verb to describe when one school embarrassingly defeats another in multiple sports.
Maybe if Indiana residents start boycotting corn, pesticides and soybean meal, they’ll successfully cripple Iowa’s economy in a few years. It’s a gamble, but I’m not sure it’s a worse bet than picking the Hoosiers to defeat the Hawkeyes in an athletic contest.
I promise I’m not trying to be all doom and gloom. Jackson-Davis still finished with 26 points and 13 rebounds. On Saturday, we saw Indiana take down No. 5 Purdue on the road in dominant fashion. Clearly, the Hoosiers have a lot going for them.
However, they still don’t appear to be the kind of team that can string together tough victories without the occasional all-out collapse. If there’s a reason to doubt Indiana’s postseason hopes, that’s it. Even a five-minute stretch, if disastrous enough, can completely derail a tournament run.
But that’s all speculation. Before we turn the page to the future, we close the curtains on a melancholy, virtually lifeless Assembly Hall.
With 2:51 remaining and Indiana trailing by 23, walk-on senior guard Nathan Childress enters the game. Muted applause clatter from the smattering of fans who remain. In Section J, an infant weeps.
As the contest draws its dying breaths, students exit the stands in droves. They trudge forward with heavy hearts, buoyed only by the ardent pursuit to acquire the finest relaxants that $2 can buy on a brisk Tuesday night in Bloomington.