[Postgame 3-2-1] What We Learned From Indiana's 75-71 Loss to Kansas
We break down three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana's game against Kansas on Saturday afternoon.
Of all the games this season, I don’t think there will be another one as anguishing as what we saw yesterday afternoon when Kansas came into a rocking Assembly Hall and defeated the Hoosiers, 75-71.
This game had it all.
Between the “stripe out” from a sold-out Assembly Hall crowd and Indiana’s hot start to the game, there seemed to be nothing that Bill Self could do to keep the crowd from erupting.
That was until Indiana got sloppy with the basketball. Untimely turnovers and missed bunnies in moments that could have extended the lead even further helped guide Kansas to make a feverish comeback late in the second half.
“I don't think our defensive intensity was there the second half like we started the game and finished the first half,” said Indiana head coach Mike Woodson in the postgame press conference. “They picked their defense up.”
Of the games I have attended at Assembly Hall throughout my life, I have not seen the Indiana fan base as dejected after a game than what I witnessed postgame. A much needed Quad One opportunity was there for the taking, but a young group of Hoosiers couldn’t close out the veteran Jayhawks.
This game was about as fun, stressful, nerve-racking, and painful as it could have been, so there is a lot to unpack here.
Here are three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana’s loss to Kansas.
Did you miss yesterday's edition of the postgame show?
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3 Meaningful Stats
1. Indiana led the game for 35:01.
This game was on pace to be the most complete game Indiana has played this season. The defense was feeding off the Assembly Hall crowd, and the offense was doing more than enough to maintain the lead that was anywhere between six and twelve throughout most of the game.
As disappointing as the result was, it is essential to note that the Hoosiers dominated the second-best team in the country for most of the game. There are many positives to come out of the team’s performance in these 35 minutes.
But then again, this is Indiana basketball, and the expectations are far higher than any such moral victories.
Down the stretch, Indiana became complacent on both sides of the basketball. Kansas was getting easy buckets in the lane early in the shot clock, and Indiana was taking too long to develop some of their half-court sets.
Unfortunately, this is not something new with this team.
The Jayhawks were down 58-50 after a layup from Malik Reneau and finished the game outscoring the Hoosiers 25-13 down the stretch.
There remains no killer instinct for this IU team, and playing sloppy with a lead against the #2 team in the nation will almost always get you beat— no matter where the game is being played.
Give Bill Self and the Jayhawks a ton of credit here, too. They didn’t quit and played an excellent final ten minutes to win in the most challenging environment in college basketball.
2. Indiana shot 13-23 on layups.
This is an incredibly alarming statistic for a team that runs their offense from the inside out.
Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau were a combined 8-25 from the field — and two of those makes were thanks to 3s by Malik. Kel’el missed his two attempts from behind the arc. That means Mike Woodson’s “Big Fellas” combined for 6-19 from inside.
There were many moments throughout the game when bigs for Indiana were soft in the post. It was almost as if they were afraid of the contact that might have been coming, and they shied away from powering the ball up and drawing a foul.
What is most concerning about this stat is that the tandem combined for an abysmal 3-15 from the field in the second half.
When Indiana needed their two big men the most, they disappeared.
It is tough to sit here and blame the officials for the loss — even though they were bad on Saturday — because when Indiana needed their two big men the most, they disappeared.
In comparison, Hunter Dickinson shot an efficient 4-6 in the second half. When Kansas needed a basket, Dickinson provided it for them.
That provided to be the difference in the game: Kansas got buckets from their big down the stretch; Indiana did not.
3. Only eight Hoosiers played yesterday.
After the disaster in Atlanta last weekend, Mike Woodson found out the hard way that there may be better options than having an 11-man rotation.
Yesterday proved that Woodson learned from that mistake. He only played three guys off the bench in short spurts. Kaleb Banks and Anthony Walker played sixteen minutes while, and CJ Gunn played just five.
Indiana’s offense flowed much better when the guys off the bench were intertwined with the starters.
I have been begging for this specific style of subbing for the past couple of weeks now because I firmly believe in having your best players on the floor as often as possible.
Woodson did just that. Ware logged 39 minutes, Galloway had 38, and Cupps played 37. Indiana was mostly successful with this strategy yesterday (though it did appear that some fatigue set in late). We will most likely see something similar to this during Big Ten play, especially when Xavier Johnson returns.
Additionally, it was refreshing to see Woodson not auto-sub Cupps when he picked up his second foul with six minutes to play in the first half. That hasn’t happened often in Woodson’s tenure.
It will be intriguing to see if Woodson sticks with the strategy in this week’s non-conference games on Tuesday and Thursday, or if he will go back to a deeper bench in games that Indiana should win by double digits.