Indiana Basketball: Lessons to Learn After Buzzer-Beater Loss to Illinois

Rob GoldbergFeatured ColumnistFebruary 7, 2013

CHAMPAIGN, IL - FEBRUARY 7: Tyler Griffey #42 of the Illinois Fighting Illini celebrates with teammates after scoring the game-winning basket against the Indiana Hoosiers during the game at Assembly Hall on February 7, 2013 in Champaign, Illinois. Illinois defeated No. 1 ranked Indiana 74-72. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Indiana fell to Illinois on Thursday in a classic trap game, but the team can learn some lessons from the loss.

After defeating No. 1 Michigan at home on Saturday, the Hoosiers came out strong on the road and led 41-29 at the half. However, the Illini came back strong and ended up with a two-point win.

As bad as the loss was, however, it could benefit the team in the long run. The important thing is to learn from the mistakes to get better in the future.


Defend the Three

Illinois has two legitimate three-point shooters between Brandon Paul and D.J. Richardson, but neither of them shoot better than 34 percent from deep.

However, they combined to shoot 7-of-15 from behind the arc against Indiana.

When the Hoosiers knew a shot was coming from that range, they were still unable to stop it.

This was not a problem against Michigan, but the players were slow on covering open guys and they could not recover on rotations.

While you have to give credit to the players making shots, Indiana made it too easy for the Illini.


Get the Ball to the Best Scorers

Indiana likes to boast its depth as it has a lot of players that can score the ball. However, a few key players need to step up from a scoring perspective.

Cody Zeller was roughed around by the net, but he was still only able to get off six shots. Victor Olidapo was only 3-for-7 from the floor and made his only three-point shot.

These are two of the most efficient players in the country, but they are not aggressive enough.

Olidapo makes 64.4 percent of his shots during the season while making over 50 percent from deep. However, he is only averaging 14 points per game.

There is no reason that these two players should be fourth and fifth on the team in shots during a game. This fact hurt the squad offensively against Illinois.


Don't Fall Asleep

The Hoosiers had big leads throughout the game. At 3:36 left in the game, the score was 70-61 in favor of Indiana.

However, the team could not finish out and only scored two more points for the rest of the game.

Indiana lost focus after coming out strong. The team felt good after defeating Michigan and simply did not come ready to play a full 40 minutes. The home crowd also seemed to negatively affect the squad.

For a team looking to win a national championship, this simply cannot happen. It is not enough to get up for big games; the Hoosiers need to be prepared every day.

Otherwise, they will be looking at an early exit in the NCAA tournament.