Is it any wonder that the Hoosiers have struggled in their first 9 games of the Big Ten season? The Hoosiers stand at 4 wins and 5 losses in the brutal conference. As impressive as the wins against Michigan and Ohio State are, it is the inexplicable losses to Nebraska and Minnesota that loom over the 2011-2012 Hoosiers. It isn't just the loss to those two teams in particular, it is the way in which we lost those games.
First, it was a cold Thursday, January 12th that the #7/8 Hoosiers played an unranked Minnesota Golden Gopher squad, who started out with 4 tough Big Ten losses. Hanging in the balance was a rematch against the Buckeyes in Columbus, which may or may not have been in the heads of the young Hoosiers. Coach Crean wasn't buying the "looking ahead" theory before or after the game, but it sure seemed like they were looking ahead to Ohio State.
The Hoosiers came out of the gate as flat as they have looked all season long. There was absolutely no energy and no passion. It was the first game that the students were back from break; they were ready to see their ranked Hoosiers for the first time. Minnesota controlled the game from opening tip until the end of the game. Despite a valiant effort in the end, Indiana dug themselves too big a hole and lost the game 77-74. Was this the beginning of a meltdown?
Do I really need to recap the Ohio State loss? First half, it was all Buckeyes. There was no energy from Indiana and Ohio State got anything they wanted. In the second half, the Hoosiers played better but the game was already sewn up for the Buckeyes. Does that about sum it up?
Next, the biggest of the string of losses. Indiana went up 11 with 6:44 left on Jordy Hulls' three pointer. In just over two minutes of play, the lead way down to three thanks to an 8-0 run by Nebraska. Despite trading points for about 3 minutes, the Hoosiers were still in control with 1:42 left after Dylan Talley made one of two free throws. It was 67-64, Indiana. Both teams exchange free throws, ending with Hulls making two to bring the lead for IU to 69-66. An offensive rebound leads to a Nebraska basket, but the Hoosiers are still up one with their best free throw shooter going to the line for a one-and-one. Hulls had just hit 2 free throws; he is a 90% free throw shooter; he's got this. He misses. Nebraska comes down, gives it to their big man underneath the basket and Hulls fouls to avoid an easy layup. Jorge Brian Diaz goes to the line and as clutch as Jordy usually is makes both free throws to put Nebraska up 70-69. The last possession of the game Jordy dribbles the ball all the way to the rim and throws up an out-of-control shot that hits the underside of the rim. In a scrum, the ball finally squirts out to the perimeter and Jordy chases it in time to throw up a desperation heave that goes begging. The Hoosiers lost a game they easily had in control. Now, people are really starting to question this team.