Three Takeaways From No. 9/10 IUWBB's 74-69 Loss At top-10 Ohio State
Hoosiers Second Half Rally Not Enough In Columbus
Assembly Hall Where Indiana Indiana Plays Their Home Game
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Hoosiers Come Back From Big Deficit This Time Against Elite Team Which Is Encouraging Despite Same Result
When the Hoosiers went to highly-ranked Stanford and Iowa teams earlier this season they got punched in the mouth and got down big and wilted in a 20+ point losses. This time when they were put down on the mat (speaking of that, IU’s wrestling squad came back from a huge deficit Sunday to pick up a thrilling 23-18 comeback win over Michigan State), Indiana got up and punched back.
Facing a third-quarter deficit of 14 points, rather than get blown out, the Cream and Crimson chipped away and got within three in the last 30 seconds. However, it was too-little-too-late and Ohio State walked away with a 74-69 victory in this top-10 showdown. The fact that the Hoosiers stayed competitive in a loss and didn’t quit was a step in the right direction.
IU Still A Step Behind Elite Teams Which Is Discouraging
Let’s face it, IU, Ohio State, and Iowa are lapping the rest of the field in the Big Ten and almost without exception blowing out everyone but each other. There is little doubt with no more tough games away from home in the regular season, that the Hoosiers will finish somewhere between first and third in the league and lose no more than once or twice.
IU is among the 15 best teams in the country and among a trio of elite squads in the conference. They are also likely to be hosting the first two rounds of March Madness in Assembly Hall as a top-four seed again.
The potential issue is going to be in the postseason. This is when the Cream and Crimson are likely to face the Buckeyes and/or Hawkeyes again on the weekend in the Big Ten Tourney on a neutral court. Then in the Sweet 16, Indiana is near-certain to take on a one or two seed who is among the best five in the nation.
So far, there is little evidence IU can compete with the very best college basketball has to offer. This is similar to a couple of seasons ago when the Hoosiers were somewhere in the middle of the top 25 in the polls but could barely hang with elite Iowa or UConn in March.
While this is very much acceptable for a program whose success is almost exclusively limited to the past five years, it is likely to lead to disappointment in some ways for the fans and team in the end. Until further notice, this is who the 2023-2024 squad is and that is something everyone will have to come to grips with.
Sheldon And McMahon Outduel Holmes And Scalia Which Was Deciding Factor
While the turnovers (23) and press hurt the Hoosiers, it was the battle of each team’s two stars that decided the outcome. Jacy Sheldon and Cotie McMahon scored 25 and 20 points respectively and were elite all afternoon. By contrast, Sara Scalia was top-notch and Indiana’s best player with 25 points. However, Mackenzie Holmes who has been Ohio State’s kryptonite in her career, struggled all afternoon with easy misses inside she almost always makes. She had just 14 points on 6-12 shooting and committed five turnovers. Those four to five clanks in the post decided the outcome as much or more than anything.
The Hoosiers fell to 18-3 overall and 9-2 in the league. They have postseason-bound Michigan State in Assembly Hall on Thursday (7 pm on Peacock). The Spartans are deep and have a lot of good players. However, as is typical, when the opposition is not the Buckeyes and Hawkeyes, the Hoosiers will have the best players on the court with Holmes and Scalia.
The postgame show with Jeff Marlow and Kathy Amos can be seen here: