Thirteen months after an embarrassing overtime road loss at Fort Wayne hinted that Indiana would not live up to its top-five ranking, the Hoosiers got another crack at the lightly regarded Mastodons on Monday night.
Somehow, someway it went even worse.
Not only did Indiana lose in Bloomington this time, Fort Wayne also certainly didn’t need overtime. The Mastodons broke open a tight game with a barrage of second-half 3-pointers and cruised to a dominant 92-72 upset victory.
Indiana’s sloppiness on offense in the first half allowed smaller, quicker Fort Wayne to build some confidence. The Hoosiers committed 12 first-half turnovers, many of which were unforced, and the Mastodons converted those into transition baskets.
Things got worse in a hurry for Indiana in the second half when Fort Wayne’s perimeter shooters began to heat up from behind the arc. A Mastodons team that shoots a modest 36.6 percent from 3-point land on the season sank 17 of 30 threes on Monday night, hitting three during a 17-5 run that gave them a 53-44 lead and four more during another scoring flurry that extended the lead to 70-53.
Guards Kason Harrell and John Konchar and forward Dylan Carl combined for 14 threes just among the three of them. Harrell led the Mastodons with 28 points and fellow guard Bryson Scott added 26.
Indiana’s loss is a reminder that this season’s Hoosiers aren’t talented enough to take nights off and expect to beat anyone — even a five-loss Fort Wayne team that entered play just inside the KenPom top 200 this season. This Indiana team is 6-6 in part because it has no surefire first-round picks, a dearth of outside shooters and some glaring defensive deficiencies.
When locked in and playing hard, Indiana pushed Duke and Louisville into the final minutes earlier this season before upsetting Notre Dame in overtime on Saturday afternoon. When unfocused and feeling too good about themselves, the Hoosiers can also mix in head-scratching losses like Monday’s against Fort Wayne or a season-opening 21-point drubbing against Indiana State.
Whether those losses reflect more on new coach Archie Miller or previous coach Tom Crean is sure to be a lively debate in Bloomington. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle as Crean built a team that’s not capable of contending in the Big Ten this season and Miller has sometimes gotten that roster to punch above its weight class and other times failed to have it ready to play.
On Monday, the Hoosiers played like their heads were still inflated with praise from the Notre Dame win two days earlier.
As a result, they endured the ignominy of losing to Fort Wayne for a second straight year.
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