November 29, 2013 / 7:24 pm

From last Friday: Hoosiers Drop Close One at MSG

A game that featured a 27 point outing for UConn’s best player, also featured a 0 point outing for Indiana’s best player.  Still, the outcome was a lot closer than you’d expect.

UConn’s Shabazz Napier posted a season-high 27 points, while Indiana’s Noah Vonleh put up 0.  But Vonleh definitely had his chance to make us all forget about his poor performance as he missed a turnaround jumper to win the game with .7 seconds left and the Hoosiers down 1.  He wasn’t even able to get the shot off, as the Huskies were able to improve to 6-0, giving the Hoosiers their first loss on the year as they fell to 5-1.

But it was more than just the points that the two respective stars scored that made them so relevant in Friday night’s game.  Napier was incredibly efficient shooting 10-14 from the field.  Noah Vonleh was unfortunately not given the chance to shine.  Two early foul calls, more specifically two early offensive foul calls, forced Tom Crean to give Vonleh only 10 minutes of playing time.  In those 10 minutes, he had 4 turnovers, 4 fouls, 2 rebounds, and 0 points.  But remarkably, the Hoosiers were able to hang right with the No.18 Huskies, despite an irrelevant performance from their top ranked recruit.

Turnovers certainly inhibited the Hoosiers from pulling away against the Huskies.  The Hoosiers turned the ball over 19 times, which tied their season high.  “You’re not going to beat anybody when you turn it over that many times.  You’re just giving a team this good a chance to make plays,” said Crean after the game.  Five turnovers by point guard Yogi Ferrell did not help IU’s cause.

Despite his 5 turnovers, Yogi was extremely effective dictating the flow of the game.  He entered the game scoring 20 or more points in his last 3 games, and finished just shy of that Friday night with 19.

With 5:30 to go and Indiana down 2, Yogi went to the line to complete a three-point play.  A couple plays later Evan Gordon drove straight to the hoop, which topped off a 13-3 run with 5:16 to go.  This gave the Hoosiers a five point lead, their largest of the night.  With the heavily based IU crowd at Madison Square Garden going wild, for a brief moment it looked like the Hoosiers could pull away and beat a ranked team while outside of the top 25.

Shabazz Napier quickly answered with yet another bomb from long range, finishing the night 4-6 from distance.  “Napier deserves every bit of praise he’s going to get this year,” said Crean.

Two late and costly turnovers by freshman forward Devin Davis hurt the Hoosiers.  But those freshman mistakes are not to be overshadowed by the great contributions that IU got off the bench, especially by Davis.  “There’s a lot to his game, with a lot of upside,” said Crean.  He led the team in rebounds with 7 in the loss.

Crean’s young squad was able to get their first test in a more hostile environment on Friday.  They’re certainly glad they can get this experience early before having to play in some of the nations toughest college basketball towns like East Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Columbus, to name a few.  Not to mention Syracuse, as the Hoosiers will be there to visit just 11 days after Friday night’s game.  There’s no such thing as a good loss, of course, but the Hoosier’s definitely showed what they are made in their hard fight against UConn.

-Eric Feldman