Yesterday evening’s contest between two storied basketball programs was one of the ugliest games played in Tournament history; at least from a shooting perspective. The game was a mighty illustration of defensive skill, and a perfect example of this streaky 2006 Hoosier offense.
20-13 at halftime. 54-49 final score.
IU scored 13 points in 20 minutes. Forget that UCLA was only better by seven. IU just missed plenty of good shots, and too many front-ends of one-an-one free throw opportunities. For the game IU was only 10-21 from the charity stripe, and many of those misses were front ends. Hit your free throws and win the game. But this team couldn’t score all night. They missed their first ten three pointers.
In spite of that the Hoosiers had every chance to win the game and advance to the Sweet 16 in Sampson’s inaugural season. They finally converted from behind the arc, hitting five of their last six. They tied the game at 49 with under a minute to play. After falling down by two – 51-49 – following to Aaron Afflalo free throws, the team still had enough time to inbound the ball, run the offense, and get a good shot.
Too bad they couldn’t inbound the ball.
Lance Stemler forgot IU’s uniform color at the end of the game. Three times he attempted to inbound the ball, and three times he threw the ball away. The third time was the charm for UCLA as Collison stole the errant pass, was fouled, and then iced the game by hitting his two foul shots.
Just like that the game, which IU had no business winning but were still in position to win, had slipped away.
Click on this link if you want to read a thoughtful analysis on the game.
Right now all I can say is: there’s always next year.