It was a sight that Indiana has shown quite a lot the past three years — offensive struggles plaguing the Hoosiers to an underwhelming performance.
The Hoosiers had their worst scoring output in head coach Archie Miller’s tenure with a 66-44 defeat to the No.17 Texas Longhorns in the Harrah’s Cherokee Center in Asheville, N.C. on Tuesday. IU’s 44 points are the least ever under Miller and is also the fourth time Indiana has failed to break 50 points with Miller at the helm.
“I think that Texas a little bit stunned our guys in the first four to five minutes of the game,” Miller said postgame. “They imposed early on how physical and how tough they were going to play and I thought that played a role to knock us on our heels.”
Indiana (2-1, 0-0 B1G) shot 24% from the field at 11-of-46 and 20% on 3-pointers at 2-of-10. The one small bright spot of the Hoosiers’ shooting was 29 free throws attempted, but IU shot just 69% from the free-throw line. Both Indiana and Texas (3-0, 0-0 Big 12) struggled shooting the ball early, combining for just 12-of-20 on the first 40 shots of the game. However, the Longhorns hit their next 14 field goals while the Hoosiers could only muster seven made field goals.
Texas had limited turnover from last season’s team that ranked 27th in scoring defense at 63.3 points per game. The Longhorns came out from the opening tip and put pressure on Indiana’s offense, in particular focusing on Al Durham and Trayce Jackson-Davis. Durham recorded just eight points on 2-of-7 shooting and 4-of-5 from the free-throw line. The senior guard did not score a single point in the second half and left the game with an injury.
Miller said postgame that Durham is doubtful for Indiana’s game on Wednesday.
The Hoosiers struggled against the size of Texas, who has five players at 6-foot-9 or above. Jackson-Davis scored 17 points, but made seven free throws. The Greenwood, Ind. hauled in just four rebounds and five turnovers, and could not find ways to get the ball in the basket inside
“He’s missing some easy ones,” Miller said. “I think he’s trying to get fouled rather than just playing and scoring.”
Jackson-Davis needs to get back to his All-Big Ten performance from a season ago for Indiana to have success. IU is not playing Tennessee Tech every night and the Hoosiers leading scorer and all of their front court players must be ready to face bigger and stronger competition. Not finishing at the rim and losing the rebounding battle 48-29 is not going to take Indiana far this season.
With Indiana’s star players struggling to contribute, the Hoosiers had no where to turn to for offensive production. The rest of the starting five of Armaan Franklin, Rob Phinisee, and Race Thompson combined for just 13 points on 3-of-16 shooting.
Production did not stall with just the starting five, but with Indiana’s bench. IU lost 15-6 in bench points. Trey Galloway scored two points from two free throws after recording 13 points in the Hoosiers’ season opener. Jerome Hunter shot just 1-of-4 on the day and 5-star recruit Khristian Lander went 0-of-4 on field goals and 0-of-2 from deep.
“We need Jerome [Hunter] to play better,” Miller said. “Jerome’s a much better player than he’s played. He’s had a hard time getting going down here and that would really help us with more minutes on the floor where he’s playing better.”
Miller not only talked about the importance of Jerome but the freshmen as well.
“We need Jerome [Hunter], we need Khristian [Lander], we need Anthony [Leal], we need all those guys to keep making us deeper,” Miller said.
One key problem from Indiana on Tuesday was its pace. The Hoosiers gave up 22 fastbreak points and had just nine of their own. IU’s transition game played a key role in the season opening win against Tennessee Tech. When Indiana runs the floor hard and gets the defense sporadic, it leads to easy opportunities. Instead, the Hoosiers played slow against the Longhorns forcing more pressure on IU’s halfcourt offense.
IU misses the opportunity at its first Maui Invitational championship since 2002. Now, the Hoosiers play in the third place game on Dec. 2 against Stanford. The contest is another chance for Indiana to see if it can compete with a high quality program in college basketball.
“We got to execute better,” Miller said. “We have to have better pace. We have to have better movement. And I just think the physicality and the toughness in screening actions and the screening on the ball and in the rim running and just the overall pop, we didn’t have it today.”
Photo: Brian Spurlocki