How A Gutsy And Short-Handed Indiana Hoosier Team Survived UT-Arlington’s Epic Comeback

Merely looking at boxscores can be very misleading. What ended up being a 78-64 win for the Indiana Hoosiers over the UT-Arlington Mavericks looks like a somewhat comfortable win on the surface, but anyone who watched the contest can attest to the fact that there was nothing comfortable about this game.

That can be interpreted in a literal sense too as before the game started, news came out that De’Ron Davis would be unable to play, bringing the total of injured scholarship players to five and leaving IU Coach Archie Miller with just a seven-man rotation.

Which quickly became a six-man rotation when Al Durham fell awkwardly on his back after scoring the first basket of the game. He would stay in for a little while longer but when he was subbed out with 7:58 left in the first half, he never returned to the game.

Still the six-man rotation of Romeo Langford, Rob Phinisee, Juwan Morgan, Justin Smith, Evan Fitzner, and Damezi Anderson pressed on and pushed a 24-14 lead from when Durham went out to a 39-22 halftime score.

Yet the Mavericks didn’t panic. Despite shooting a horrendous 1-of-12 from behind the arc in the first half, they kept to their gameplan and were rewarded as the shots from deep finally started to fall. Combine that with a suffocating defense against a fatigued Hoosier squad (remember IU was just over 48 hours removed from a grueling loss at Arkansas) and in the span of 12 minutes, Indiana’s lead went from 48-28 to just 61-60 with 6:33 left.

During those dozen minutes, the Mavericks played with swagger. Confidently launching threes when the stats said otherwise. Forcing the Hoosiers to commit turnover after turnover. They believed they were going to come back and win.

Then Hoosier Nation stepped into action.

Despite the student section being absent due to Thanksgiving Break, the seats at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall were still occupied with thousands of IU fans who cheered on the Hoosiers throughout the game. Yet with Indiana’s lead dwindling, the crowd became louder and louder as they tried to encourage their Cream and Crimson warriors.

“Without question, the energy our crowd gives our players, they feed off of (it),” said Coach Miller. “(The crowd) knew in that last seven, eight minutes we needed them. I thought they stepped up.”

As soon as UT-Arlington cut the deficit to just a single point, Indiana immediately countered on the next possession when Smith converted a layup off of a lobbed pass from Fitzner to end a 6-0 Maverick run.

That basket sparked a loud reaction from the crowd and suddenly that confidence in the Mavericks started to waver, so much so that UT-Arlington Head Coach Chris Ogden smartly called a timeout to ice the crowd and draw out a play for his team.

However, it didn’t work. Hoosier Nation retaliated by being even louder after the timeout and it was at that point that all that confidence waned.

Sensing the chink in the armor, Morgan asserted himself, scoring once and assisting on the other two IU baskets as the Hoosiers pushed the lead back to seven.

“When things aren’t going real well, you need your aces to kind of stick their head out and say let’s go, and I thought he did,” said Miller.

Even an incidental headbutt that caused Langford to leave the game with a bloody nose couldn’t stop the Hoosiers from gutting it out as Anderson hit a huge three just a minute later that basically iced the game as the lead returned to double-digits.

Morgan demonstrated his senior leadership not just at the end but throughout the game, finishing with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Langford added 16 points and eight rebounds, while Phinisee had eight points, four assists, and three steals.

The final result was a well-earned victory in the face of adversity. Yet that adversity won’t be going away with the addition of three more scholarship players on the injury report and no guarantee any of them will even be available to play Friday vs UC Davis. Yet Morgan and his team remain undaunted.

“If it gets to the point where we have to play five people 40 minutes a game then that’s what we’ll do,” said Morgan. “Our bodies are in condition well enough to do it, but if it comes to it then that’s what we’re going to do, and we’ll fight as hard as we can.”

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Despite Bryant’s Best Effort, Indiana’s Offense Unable To Outscore Purdue

The Indiana Hoosiers held the Purdue Boilermakers, the Big Ten’s best three-point shooting team, to just 28.6% from behind the arc. The Hoosiers grabbed the same number of rebounds (35 each) and even kept the turnovers fairly close (14 to 12).

Yet despite all that, the Hoosiers again failed to gain another resume-building win as they lost to Purdue 69-64 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday night.

The main cause for the loss was an unproductive offense. The usually potent IU offense struggled as Indiana shot 38.6% from the floor and 33.3% from behind the arc. In fact it’s not just this game as Indiana (averaging 81.3 points per game on the season) has averaged just 69.8 points over the last five games. When you take into account that one of those games was a triple overtime game where the Hoosiers scored 110 points against Penn State, those scoring numbers look even worse (for reference, the Hoosiers have averaged 59.8 points in the other four games)

It’s no secret that the “injury bug” has bitten the Hoosiers hard this year, but this game more than any of the last five games showed how short-handed the Hoosiers are at the moment.

  • Despite getting James Blackmon Jr. back from a leg injury, Blackmon very rarely looked like himself as he struggled with his shot all night, finishing 3 of 14  from the floor including 1 of 7 from deep.
  • Juwan Morgan, who’s playing while still injured, started strong but got into foul trouble and didn’t score after halftime.
  • Devonte Green, who had been playing well replacing Blackmon in the starting lineup, was limited to five minutes due to getting a back spasm lifting weights earlier in the week.
  • On top of all that, De’Ron Davis took a shot to the face early in the second half and missed the rest of the game.

Perhaps Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter explained it best as to why injuries really played a huge role in Indiana’s loss.

“You have to understand that Indiana doesn’t have a lot of their guys,” said Painter. “Collin Hartman is a good player, he affects winning and OG (Anunoby) is a really good player, so now when they get into foul trouble (like they did tonight) it’s not normal foul trouble, now it’s two guys are out, one just came back from injury and then you have a couple of guys in foul trouble.”

The one shining light, and the reason Indiana had a chance of actually winning the game was Thomas Bryant.

After being held in check in the first half due to foul trouble, Bryant singlehandedly carried the Hoosiers in the second half, scoring 17 of the Hoosiers’ 28 second half points. He finished with 23 points on 8 of 12 shooting, 3 of 4 from three-point range. Over the last five games, Bryant has averaged 20.2 points on an eye-popping 68.4% (39 of 57) shooting.

So when the controversial “blarge” was called with 44 seconds left (What’s a blarge? Well one referee called a blocking foul while the other called a charging foul, so the refs copped out and called a double foul. It’s okay if that definition  just confuses you more because honestly it confuses me too.),  Indiana’s fate was sealed as Thomas Bryant picked up his fifth foul.

If Bryant can keep up this level of production and can get some help from his teammates that are either not 100% yet (Blackmon, Morgan) or are wildly inconsistent as of late (Josh Newkirk, Rob Johnson), then the Hoosiers can still make the NCAA Tournament. But with six games left in the regular season, time is starting to run out.

Hoosiers In The NBA: Injured Hoosiers Everywhere

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:

There’s a saying that things tend to happen in threes. That statement was true this week as not one, not two, but three Hoosiers missed games because of injuries. This week I will give you the details of the injuries suffered by Eric Gordon, Victor Oladipo, and Cody Zeller and how soon it will be before Gordon and Zeller return to the court and how it will affect Oladipo’s play the next few weeks:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

@ Memphis (L 101-99): 10 points (2-7 FG)(4-4 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 3 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 37 minutes.

Vs Minnesota (W 114-99): 11 points (4-9 FG), rebound, 3 assists, steal, 2 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

Vs Detroit (W 115-99): DNP – injury

Vs Milwaukee (W 116-99): DNP – injury

Eric Gordon’s consistent health, playing for a team that has suffered an injury at every other position, almost seemed too good to be true. Now Gordon will be on the sidelines for the next four to six weeks with a fractured ring finger on his shooting hand.

The good news is that it seems the surgery was successful, but the bad news is that this slate of missed games continues a terrible trend for Gordon. Since arriving in New Orleans, Gordon has missed a combined 137 games due to injury, including 21 last season, before this latest injury. Gordon had played in 82 consecutive games for the Pelicans dating back to last year and is the only player this season to have started at least 40 games for the New Orleans Pelicans. This has also come at the worst possible time as his chances of being traded away to a playoff contender have probably vanished. There’s still a small chance a team offers something for Gordon, but a team rarely trades for player at the trade deadline who is not able to play immediately. If that is the case, then it’s a good sign the Pelicans are on a winning streak and still have chance, if this play keeps up, to make the playoffs.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Atlanta (L 98-81): DNP – injury

Vs Philadelphia (L 96-87): DNP – injury

Vs Charlotte (L 120-116 OT): 29 points (11-19 FG)(2-2 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 42 minutes.

Victor Oladipo surprised me and quite a few other people when he returned to the court for the Orlando Magic’s game against the Charlotte Hornets on Friday. After all, Oladipo did just suffer a knee injury in the fourth quarter of the Magic’s game against the Toronto Raptors last week when the two teams faced off in London. It was an injury that head coach Scott Skiles thought would take up to three weeks to heal.

Oladipo looked pretty good against the Hornets, scoring 29 points in the Magic’s overtime loss. There was a little worry he might have been pushing himself to play the game but he was healthy enough to play 42 minutes in the contest. It will be interesting to see if soreness in his knee catches up to him as the Magic are set to play five games in the next eight days. If he is in fact healthy and can continue to shoot at a good percentage, that is a good sign because Orlando needs him as the Magic have now lost nine of their last ten games.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Washington (W 108-98): 2 points (1-3 FG), 9 rebounds, assist, turnover, 2 personal fouls, 17 minutes.

Vs Atlanta (L 104-98): 7 points (3-4 FG), 4 rebounds, block, 2 personal fouls, 15 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 121-103): 11 points (5-6 FG)( 1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 3 steals, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 25 minutes.

Noah Vonleh was the only one out of the four Hoosiers playing in the NBA to come away from this week perfectly healthy. What’s even more encouraging is that Vonleh is playing very well lately, averaging 4.8 points and 5.2 rebounds in the month of January compared to 3.1 points and 3.6 rebounds over the first two months of the season.

It still looks like we are a ways away from Vonleh making a big breakout but, as long as he avoids injuries and continues to improve with the playing time he is given, that moment should come sooner rather than later.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

Vs Utah (W 124-119): 14 points (4-9 FG)(6-8 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, block, turnover, 5 personal fouls, 42 minutes.

@ Oklahoma City (L 109-95): 3 points (0-3 FG)(3-4 FT), 2 rebounds, steal, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 14 minutes.

@ Orlando (W 120-116 OT): DNP – injury

Vs New York (W 97-84): DNP – injury

Cody Zeller was the last of the Hoosiers to get injured this week when he sprained a ligament in his right shoulder during the Charlotte Hornets’ game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

There was some thought that Zeller would return this week but the team reported during this past weekend that at the minimum he will be out for this upcoming week. This is a big blow for a team that is already without Al Jefferson and has had to start Spencer Hawes at center the past two games. That being said, it might be just as big of a blow for Zeller. While Zeller has probably already proven with his recent play that he is the Hornets’ starting center going forward, he still has a lot of things to work on if he’s going to be a successful NBA center. One of those things is defending against bigger centers and not letting them push Zeller around. With a shoulder injury, you can’t rush back onto the court because that type of injury can take away some of the strength one would need to compete in the post. Hopefully he’s able to recover quickly so he continue improving his post defense against bigger defenders.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 14.9ppg, 2.1rpg, 2.7apg, 0.95spg, 0.29bpg, 1.6tpg, 2.2fpg, 41.0% FG, 37.7% 3FG, 89.0% FT, 33.4mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 13.9ppg, 4.8rpg, 3.9apg, 1.29spg, 0.63bpg, 2.2tpg, 2.3fpg, 41.2% FG, 36.1% 3FG, 81.6% FT, 30.3mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 3.5ppg, 4.0rpg, 0.5apg, 0.50spg, 0.24bpg, 0.6tpg, 2.0fpg, 42.0% FG, 17.4% 3FG, 81.3% FT, 15.8mpg.

Cody Zeller: 9.0ppg, 5.9rpg, 0.9apg, 0.88spg, 0.70bpg, 0.9tpg, 3.0fpg, 49.6% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 73.6% FT, 24.8mpg.

Hoosiers In The NBA: The Injury Bug Bites

NOTE: Hello everyone and welcome to a new edition of Hoosiers In The NBA on its new site! Please try to spread the word by liking it on Facebook or retweeting this on Twitter if you enjoyed it. Of course this is completely optional but it is greatly appreciated. Otherwise I hope you enjoy this latest edition and for more coverage follow me on twitter at @QTipsForSports or just look for the hashtag #HoosiersInTheNBA:

Injuries are a part of sports. Sometimes injuries can derail someone’s career or interrupt their great play while other times injuries are blessings in disguise as it lets someone else show off their potential. All four Hoosiers in the NBA were affected by injuries this week, whether they were injured or someone else who affects their play was injured. Let’s go over how each Hoosier did this week and break down the ramifications of these injuries:

Eric Gordon: Guard, New Orleans Pelicans:

Vs Dallas (W 120-105): 17 points (5-19 FG)(3-3 FT), 2 rebounds, 3 assists, steal, block, personal foul, 34 minutes.

@ Atlanta (L 106-98): 26 points (10-20 FG)(2-3 FT), 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 steals, 2 turnovers, 4 personal fouls, 32 minutes.

@ Toronto (L 100-81): 30 points (11-22 FG)(4-5 FT), 3 rebounds, assist, steal, 3 turnovers, 2 personal fouls, 36 minutes.

@ New York (L 95-87): 11 points (5-11 FG), 2 rebounds, 2 assists, 4 personal fouls, 39 minutes.

First off let’s take a moment to celebrate the fact that I’m writing a column about injuries and it has nothing to do with Eric Gordon being injured. In fact it almost feels like he is the only healthy player on the New Orleans Pelicans, with Jrue Holiday playing limited minutes, Tyreke Evans not playing at all, and Anthony Davis recently having to sit out two games with a hip injury.

However, it’s Davis’ injury that affects Gordon the most. Without Davis, the Pelicans’ scoring options looked very bare outside of Gordon, which meant Gordon had to take more offensive responsibility this past week. What we saw was vintage-Gordon as he dropped 26 points against the Atlanta Hawks and a season-high 30 points against the Toronto Raptors. Not only was Gordon scoring a lot but also very efficiently, hitting 50% (10 of 20 vs Atlanta and 11 of 22 vs Toronto) of his shots in both games. Even though we won’t see vintage-Gordon anymore with Davis now healthy again (he had only 11 points vs New York), it was great to see that Gordon can still be a lead-scorer and that he’s still healthy.

Victor Oladipo: Guard, Orlando Magic:

@ Indiana (L 97-84): 15 points (7-18 FG), 7 rebounds, 2 assists, steal, 2 blocks, 4 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 38 minutes.

Vs Los Angeles Lakers (W 101-99): 3 points (1-2 FG), 2 rebounds, assist, personal foul, 7 minutes.

We hear about concussions all the time in football, but they are just as devastating in basketball. While you don’t get hit in the head as often in basketball, you also don’t have a helmet and you play on a really hard court. Add the fact that the NBA has a very strict concussion protocol (you must be symptom-free while resting, then you are subjected to increasingly harder physical tasks and then finally you must get the okay from the director of the NBA’s concussion program) and it’s unknown when we will see Victor Oladipo back on the court. It could be the Orlando Magic’s next game or it could be two weeks from now. I’m not exaggerating about the two weeks either, as Oladipo’s teammate Nikola Vucevic was out for three weeks during last season after he sustained a concussion.

It’s never a great time to suffer an injury as serious as a concussion, but this could really hamper Oladipo’s aggressiveness on defense when he does return. It seems silly to think Oladipo won’t play aggressively, but players who sustain concussion are a lot more aware of situations where concussions occur as well as the risks on sustaining multiple concussions. Head Coach Scott Skiles has lauded Oladipo for his defensive intensity and for good reason as Oladipo is playing the best he has ever played on that side of the ball so it would be a shame to see him lose that progress.  I think Oladipo will eventually regain that aggressiveness; I just hope it doesn’t take him awhile to regain it.

Noah Vonleh: Forward, Portland Trail Blazers:

@ Denver (L 108-104): 0 points (0-3 FG), 2 rebounds, personal foul, 13 minutes.

Vs San Antonio (L 113-101): 2 points (1-2 FG), 2 rebounds, personal foul, 7 minutes.

@ Memphis (L 101-100): 0 points, 2 personal fouls, 7 minutes.

@ Charlotte (L 106-94): 9 points (3-6 FG)(3-4 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 turnovers, 3 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

When Meyers Leonard dislocated his shoulder, which will keep him out a month, the question was whether Ed Davis or Noah Vonleh would take his starting spot. At first, the answer was neither as Chris Kaman started against the Memphis Grizzlies. However, Noah Vonleh received the start (his first of his career) against his former team the Charlotte Hornets.

Unfortunately that was more likely Head Coach Terry Stotts letting Vonleh get a chance to prove himself against the team that drafted him than an endorsement for Vonleh to be the starter going forward. When it came to crunch time in the Hornets game, it was Davis who played power forward. Regardless of if he is starting or not, Vonleh still benefits from Leonard’s absence, especially when considering that Vonleh’s minutes were dwindling over the last couple of games. As long as Vonleh plays well the Trail Blazers will find ways to put him on the court.

Cody Zeller: Forward, Charlotte Hornets:

@ Minnesota (W 104-95): 14 points (5-8 FG)(4-6 FT), 6 rebounds, assist, 2 steals, turnover, 4 personal fouls, 24 minutes.

Vs New York (W 95-93): 12 points (2-6 FG)(8-15 FT), 4 rebounds, 3 assists, block, personal foul, 25 minutes.

Vs Portland (W 106-94): 1 point (0-4 FG)(1-2 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks, turnover, personal foul, 21 minutes.

It was quite the week for Cody Zeller as he recorded back-to-back double digit scoring games for the first time this season, set a career high for free throw attempts (Zeller alone attempted more than twice as many free throw as the opposing Knicks 15-7), and hit a game-winning layup on an inbound play. However, Zeller also missed the Charlotte Hornets’ game against the Chicago Bulls due to a sprained ankle. Zeller returned for the Hornets’ next game against Portland but he only mustered one point. He was still great defensively, blocking a season-high two shots.

Now there is no need to worry about Zeller losing momentum from his injury; the worry comes from the idea that if Zeller was to miss an extensive amount of time he could lose his spot in the rotation to either Frank Kaminsky or Tyler Hansbrough. Zeller was able to beat out both of them before the season, but as I stated injuries give other players a chance to show their potential and that includes second chances. Zeller’s ankle should be fine, so let’s hope he doesn’t sustain anymore injuries.

Season averages:

Eric Gordon: 19.1ppg, 2.9rpg, 2.8apg, 0.90spg, 0.20bpg, 1.7tpg, 2.8fpg, 42.0% FG, 37.8% 3FG, 82.8% FT, 35.7mpg.

Victor Oladipo: 14.7ppg, 6.9rpg, 3.9apg, 1.56spg, 0.78bpg, 1.7tpg, 1.9fpg, 38.2% FG, 27.9% 3FG, 88.9% FT, 35.1mpg.

Noah Vonleh: 2.5ppg, 2.6rpg, 0.4apg, 0.27bpg, 0.8tpg, 1.7fpg, 32.3% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 70.0% FT, 13.2mpg.

Cody Zeller: 7.1ppg, 5.3rpg, 1.0apg, 1.00spg, 0.56bpg, 0.7tpg, 1.8fpg, 41.7% FG, 0.0% 3FG, 63.2% FT, 22.1mpg.