Another winnable game slipped away
In a winnable conference road game, Indiana did what it so often does.
Prolonged offensive droughts? Check.
Uneven guard play? You bet.
No impactful contributions from anyone other than guys named Trayce and Armaan? Buddy, you know it’s true.
So, yeah. Indiana lost its second try at Big Ten basketball on Saturday afternoon, falling at Illinois, 69-60, in a plodding, predictable ballgame at
the State Farm Center The Spaceship. Here are Three Things:
Once again, IU’s backcourt was Armaan Franklin and little else
The growth of the sophomore from Indianapolis has been one of the few enjoyable parts of the first month of the season. Every night, it seems Franklin finds a way to outdo himself. On Saturday, he set a new career high with 23 points, the third time this month that he’s carved out a new personal best in the scoring column. Eleven of those points came during his first nine minutes on the floor, as he yet again buoyed Indiana through a choppy first half. Around him, there simply wasn’t much help. At least, not consistently.
Trey Galloway replaced Rob Phinisee in the starting lineup and provided some energetic spurts, but not a ton of tangible production otherwise. Al Durham didn’t show up until the second half, and Phinisee, meanwhile, saw his struggles continue. He was a -14 for the day — no other player was worse than -6 — while finishing with four points. During the opening half, he and Durham combined to go 0-for-4 from the field, which, as you know, is just not even close to good enough from the two most experienced guards on the roster.
To the credit of the backcourt, IU’s guards accounted for each of the Hoosiers’ first 19 points of the second half, showing at least some signs of life as the two teams jostled for control. But still, in total, it was more of the same.
It is a chore to watch this team try to run offense
This game featured not one, but two crippling scoring droughts — one late in the first half, followed by another late in the second half. The result? A nine-point loss, of course.
The first one saw IU go more than five minutes without a field goal shortly before halftime, helping Illinois to a 29-27 lead at the break. The second one saw Indiana go four minutes without points, a span that featured a 14-0 Illini run on the other end. For the game, Indiana finished with 0.90 points per possession, its second-lowest output of the season. The Hoosiers posted only nine assists on their 23 field goals, illustrating the lack of any sustained offensive rhythm. And only three (3) guys scored more than four points.
Of those three — Franklin, Jackson-Davis and Durham — only one was really any good on Saturday. Jackson-Davis had a nice stretch toward the end of the first half, but mostly struggled in his matchup with Kofi Cockburn. The sophomore forward finished with 11 points on 3-of-13 shooting while dealing with some foul issues that kept him sidelined for a crucial four-minute stretch midway through the second half.
Ayo Dosunmu took over
Dosunmu won this game with the way he played in the second half, scoring 20 of his game-high 30 points across his final 18 minutes on the court. He hit four big 3-pointers in that span — in fact, he didn’t miss from deep in the final half — and looked very much like the first-round draft pick he’ll soon become.
Saturday was Dosunmu’s second straight 30-point performance, and he’s one of only three players in the country to have three 30-plus efforts this season. Against Indiana, Ayo was the answer.