Slow-to-start Indiana showed more fight than that box score would make you think. (Hoosiers vs. Arizona postgame thoughts.

Well… that first 10 minutes may have been some of the most painful minutes I’ve had as a Hoosier fan. Allowing Arizona to jump out to the 27-10 lead at around the ten minute night almost certainly spelled doom for the Indiana Hoosiers. While one could focus on that slow start, I want to commend the fight the Indiana Hoosiers showed tonight. Don’t close this window yet, just hear me out…

Sure, that start was probably the most limp play this team has had in the last decade. Sure Arizona closed it out and handed the Hoosiers their second loss of this season. Sure, in a game of game turning runs, Indiana just didn’t have enough to get it done while Arizona was able to deliver the final knockout run to seal it. Sure, Indiana’s turnover riddled first half almost made the thought of coming back a pipe dream. But nonetheless, the Hoosiers fought.

Despite being punched out the gate. Our guys fought hard.

The first ten minutes of that game were some of the most painfully flat minutes of Indiana basketball that I’ve ever seen. With 5 turnovers in that first 10 minute span, Indiana gave Arizona as large a lead as someone could before starting to compete. What followed that 10 minutes was a knockout, slugfest between true power house programs. After that initial dominance by Arizona, the Hoosiers showed a lot of promise with what we may be able to manage without Jalen Hood-Schifino in the lineup.

I’m not saying that Jalen would have definitely won that game, but he would have helped that struggling Hoosier offense will something in that first ten minutes. That being said, our team began to find out how to make it work without JHS. If his back continues to be a lingering problem, that could be an issue. Many fans have said our season goes as far as Jalen Hood-Schifino goes. To them, I say HOGWASH!!! (yeah that’s right “hogwash”) Because that Arizona team hit the court with the guys they’ve been training all offseason with. The Hoosiers are down Jalen Hood Schifino, a player I have to imagine was integral in preseason scheming and game planning. In this game, they showed the ability to find offense regardless of his presence. When Indiana was distributing in that second half, it was some of the prettiest passing I’ve seen. I’m pointing in particular to the play where Race got his rebound, then we whipped it to 3 different hands on the perimeter, finding Miller for his now reliable 3 point shot. It was a slow start, but it was there. If this team continues to find what works, we will be just fine moving forward.

Miller finding his range is a revelation.

You can’t say the Hoosiers shot poorly from behind the 3 point line in this one. Both the Arizona Wildcats and the Indiana Hoosiers took a total of 25 3-point shots. Both teams sank 10 a piece. 40% shooting in a big time environment like that is nothing to scoff at, and a facet of the Indiana program that Hoosier fans have been begging to have. That three point shooting is a plus to takeaway from this game for the Hoosiers. Carry it into our game against Kansas, and we may be able to surprise the Jayhawks!

Despite the slow start, the Hoosiers kept it competitive until the end. Our team is never out of a game, and it is nice to know. A few bounces go our way and that game ends very differently. The 14 point win in the Box Score, does not tell the story of this one. Down a man and a key piece of an entire off-season’s of planning, the Hoosiers found a way to shoot themselves back into this one. While I would have loved to see the win, I almost feel better knowing we can shoot after this loss, than I staying in contention this whole time, losing by two on the back of no shooting whatsoever (as has been the case for the last 2 seasons). If that was confusing, all that to say, I’m happy to know the shooting is there.

Miller continues to show that he is back to his reliability of yesteryear. Miller shot exceptionally well and was a key piece to the Hoosiers putting up any competition in Las Vegas. He was 4 for 8 from the 3 pointer. Ending his night with 14 points total.

Race started the game terribly slow. Unable to find anything at first, and landing in a bit of foul trouble, he eventually got it going and had an uncharacteristically stellar night from 3 point range. They gave him the shot and he took it, sinking 4 of 7 shots from behind the arc.

Trey is tasked to step into Jalen’s absence. He’s doing well.

Trey Galloway has been asked to do a lot, having been thrown into the starting rotation. He had a quiet night going 2 for 5 from the field. This isn’t a position he expected to be in, but Trey has given Indiana great minutes, and at times can offer the Indiana offense gas when it seems there is none to be found. He showed fight today.

Tamar Bates continued to exhibit all the tools he’s been adding to his offensive game. He ended the night with 13 points. Tamar is playing some of the best ball on this Hoosier team. I love him coming off the bench though. He offers such a boost off the bench that absolutely is as crucial at the 6th man, as he would be in the starting 5. His game is elevating this season, and I’m just glad he’s ours.

We are starting to see the freshman in Malik rear it’s head from time to time, but that is to be expected. Malik Reneau played a meaningful 14 minutes in this one. The Hoosiers found themselves in foul trouble. In that trouble Malik was able to munch minutes while Trayce was on the bunch. Ending his night with 4 points, I am hoping for a big game from our young phenom in Lawrence. I have full confidence in the young man.

Trayce is getting everybody’s top effort game in and game out. Nobody wants to get punked by the All-American. Even with the absence of Jalen Hood-Schifino, Trayce was able to find ways to distribute from the interior, while it wasn’t leading to many assists, it was often the pass prior. Finding himself triple teamed again, even against teams the caliber of Arizona, Trayce has his work cut out for him day in and day out. He is leading this team well. If Indiana needs to adjust their offense in lieu of JHS’s lingering ailments, I am glad we have him here to help speed along any of these growing pains we are going through.

Tubelis and Ballo down low. Kerr Kriisa from three. Arizona’s high-powered offense was on full display. While the score would tell otherwise, Indiana was going toe-to-toe with them. And knowing that, knowing that our offense is down Jalen, with time to either grow without him or get him back, I believe when we run it back in March, Indiana will be able to have the game plan and first half emotion to get the Wildcats in the rematch.

I know this one hurts Hoosier fans. Of course we wanted to get the win over the Wildcats. Teams lose in college basketball, that’s a fact. I’m going to keep telling myself that. I am going to choose the road of blissful optimism and say I am proud of the Hoosiers’ ability to punch back against the Wildcats. The final score leaves much to be desired, but all of tools of a championship team are on the tape. The Hoosiers must find a way just to limit the mistakes and mindless lack of execution that puts us in seemingly unsalvageable situations. That being said, after tonight’s start, I would argue there are no truly unsalvageable situations. They don’t want to see us in March. I promise you that.

We’ll be alright. March is everything. We will be better for this.

Thank you for taking the short time to read these thoughts from a Hoosier fanboy. If you’d like to hear what I’ve got to say on this one, give me a listen on the OFTEN DAUNTED podcast. Wherever you get yours.

LUX ET VERITAS!

-Burke

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