The #3 scoring offense of the Hoosiers met the #3 scoring defense of the Cardinals. The game was prefaced by the famous Jimmy Valvano speech, which reminds us that this is just a game and that there are more important things in life. The game was a part of the doubleheader Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden. The Louisville Cardinals came in ranked #4 in the nation, boasting a physically dominating team that generates offense from their defense. The Hoosiers had a tough test facing a team that plays right into their weaknesses.
The game started brilliantly for the Hoosiers, making smart plays with the ball and securing rebounds. They held their own up until the score was 16-16 when Louisville did what they do better than all but one team in the nation, steal the ball, over… and over…. and over again. The score was 23-16, and Tom Crean was forced to call a timeout and the Hoosiers regrouped.
The Hoosiers went back to their bread-and-butter by shooting the long ball. Junior Nick Zeisloft and freshman Max Hoetzel were put on the court to do just that. The Hoosiers knocked down four three-pointers down the first half stretch, cutting the lead down to one point, 30-29. That’s the closest the Hoosiers would get in the half though. The Cardinals went on a 14-2 run due to offensive rebounding, steals and poor ball handling by Indiana.
The Hoosiers weren’t done fighting however, scoring 9 straight points after the TV timeout with just under 4 minutes left. The Hoosiers ended the half on a 10-2 run, cutting the lead down to 5, 46-41. The Hoosiers shot 7-10 from the three-point line, lead by Zeisloft (3/5), but were outrebounded 25-19 in the first half. The Cardinals recorded 8 steals and 5 blocks and Indiana turned the ball over 13 times.
The Hoosiers came out calm and composed to start the second half and opened up the scoring with an 11-2 run, taking the lead 52-50. Louisville picked it back up however hitting a couple of threes down the stretch and using their All-American big man, Junior Montrezl Harrell (who had a dominating first half as well). Montrezl’s movement off the ball was poison for the Hoosiers as he recorded dunk after dunk. Louisville regained their lead quickly and then some, going on a 21-8 run and extending their lead to 13, 73-60.
The Hoosiers tried to come back but the Cardinals were shooting lights out and proved to be just too much for the Hoosiers. The young Indiana team played into Louisville’s hands, allowing offensive rebounds for the Cardinals that lead to too many second chance points. Indiana only turned the ball over 6 times in the second half, but shot 1-7 from beyond the arc. Final score, 94-74 Louisville.
It was a tough game for the Hoosiers, and they knew it would be. They played well for 29 minutes of the game but just couldn’t close it out. I’m exhausted from watching this one, a lot of highs and a lot of lows. I want to be disappointed because I wanted another miracle… another Kentucky, but hey, they played their hearts out and I can only see them improving from here. Freshman Justin Blackmon Jr. had a mediocre night, and he led the team with 18 points. Junior Yogi Ferrell had a less than mediocre night and ended it with 13. The Hoosiers lack any physical presence and it was a glaring problem… we miss you Cody… we really do.