(Photo Credit: IndianaHQ)
DURHAM, NC — Evan Fitzner had just nailed a 3-pointer to cut #3 Duke’s lead to 12. IU seemed to have stopped the bleeding and looked ready to dig in for the remaining 25 minutes of the game. Cam Reddish, one of Duke’s four highly-touted freshmen, turned it over on the ensuing possession. The Hoosiers had the ball, with a chance to cut the margin to 10, maybe even 9. And then…
Rob Phinisee’s giveaway initiated a 17-5 Duke run, which gave the Blue Devils an insurmountable 24-point halftime lead, on their way to a 21-point win. Phinisee’s mistake was not the only unforced turnover by the Hoosiers tonight. Out of IU’s 20 turnovers, a large percentage of them were needless errors. Notably, Al Durham mishandled the ball during a fast break, Fitzner fumbled it out of bounds after crossing half court, and normally steady Juwan Morgan stepped out of bounds on a drive to start the second half.
Defensively, IU had no answer for freshman sensation Zion Williamson. In addition to his steal and windmill slam late in the first half, Williamson barreled through the Hoosier defense for 25 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists, using a combination of speed, strength, and elusiveness that IU will likely not see again this season. Williamson’s cohorts RJ Barrett and Tre Jones carved IU up as well. Barrett recorded 22 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out with nearly nine minutes left. Jones smoothly tallied 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists, while impressively not turning it over once.
All in all, while IU took this one on the chin tonight, head coach Archie Miller will likely stress to his team that this is just the seventh game in a season of at least 32. IU will likely not face a more daunting task than the one they faced tonight, facing the #3 team in the nation at the hallowed Cameron Indoor Stadium. With some adjustments, such as taking additional care of the basketball, the Hoosiers should be able to string together some wins in a tricky quartet of games coming up.
Box Score (Source: IU Athletics)
IU starts conference play against Northwestern on Saturday, December 1, at 1:00 PM, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The game can be viewed on Big Ten Network. KenPom rates the Wildcats at #45, as of Tuesday night. Keep an eye out for IndianaHQ’s scouting report on Northwestern in the upcoming days!