The Indiana Hoosiers were well on their way to pulling off a minor road upset last night. IU held a comfortable lead at halftime and should have cruised to a win.
But it was all for naught as the Hoosiers fell apart at both ends of the court in the second half of the game. Indiana went on to lose 60-55 on the road.
IU had a 13-point lead at the break, but were outscored 41-23 in the second. The stout defense that had held the Cornhuskers to 19 first half points was gone and the offense, as it so often does, stagnated as a result.
“I feel like guys on our team, they don’t take pride in defense,” Yogi Ferrell said after the game. “We took pride in the first half, but in the second half, we had a letdown. If we don’t take pride in our defense for the whole game, we won’t win games.”
Ferrell has clearly been frustrated lately. He has always held himself to a high standard and expects the same from his teammates. Ferrell led the team in scoring with 14 points and chipped in five assists.
Consistent effort has been a problem all season. This isn’t a team that can coast for a few minutes based off talent alone. Most of that has to do with the youth of the roster. The freshmen don’t fully understand what is necessary to put this team over the top. The talent is certainly there, but it will take time for this team to mature.
Here’s what stood out from this game:
- The 2-3 Zone. For a long time, IU’s zone defense was a mess. Now it has suddenly become a strength for an already solid defense. When it works, it is dominant as seen from the first half of Thursday night’s game. The Hoosiers shut down Nebraska’s leading scorer, Terran Petteway, holding him to just five points in the first half. He scored 13 in the second, as IU’s defense fell apart. This goes back to the focus and effort issues with this team. If IU can play like they did for the first 20 minutes, then this team has an outside shot of making the NCAA Tournament.
- Noah Vonleh. He finished with just seven points and three rebounds. Nebraska was content to double team him all night and force IU to adjust, something that didn’t go so well. The Hoosiers have to adjust better when he is double teamed, because it happens a lot and players often don’t rotate to help him. Vonleh shouldn’t be forced to put up a bad shot because he has no other options. He only took five shots, but need to get the opportunity to take more. IU should make sure he touches the ball on every possession.
- Will Sheehey. I have been extremely disappointed with Sheehey all season long. He was supposed to be a consistent scoring threat and a leader on this team. He hasn’t done either one. He was just 3-of-10 from the field for 12 points. It’s hard to shrug at the points, but his inconsistency with mid-range and outside jumpers is troubling. He doesn’t seem to be working on his shot and is content in his current role. He needs to act like a senior and step up his game down the stretch.
- The Bench. Tom Crean went deep into his bench Thursday night. He subbed in eight different players for some unknown reason. Those players were just 3-of-8 for just seven points. The good news is that they didn’t take too many shots, but they also turned the ball over seven times. We have talked a lot about shortening the bench rotation this season, but Crean fails to learn. Just throwing warm bodies onto the court isn’t going to result in wins. At this point in the season, we know who can and can’t contribute.
The Hoosiers will be back in action on Sunday when they host No. 10 Michigan. The Hoosiers have a very slim chance at victory in this one. They desperately need an upset win to crawl out of a 3-5 hole in the conference.