The Indiana Hoosiers were housed by the Syracuse Orange tonight 69-52 in the first game of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Trevor Cooney scored 21 points on 5-for-9 three-point shooting and Tyler Ennis added 17 points and eight assists for a Syracuse team that dominated the second half.
Indiana shot just 37 percent from the field, but through the first half of play it looked as though the Hoosiers were going to hang with the Orange. Tom Crean's squad trailed just 33-29 after the first 20 minutes despite being blocked seven times by Syracuse on several ill-advised drives to the basket.
Yogi Ferrell hit a pair of three-pointers to help Indiana keep pace while Noah Vonleh made sure that the team wasn't completely dominated on the interior. In the first half, the freshman big man was 6-for-6 from the free throw line with no field goals made. He finished the game with 17 points even though he was just 2-for-5 from the field.
While the first half at the Carrier Dome was predictably ugly, yet competitive, the second half was just plain ugly. Indiana scored just four points in the first eight minutes while it turned the ball over six times. Syracuse took advantage of the miscues to build a 12-point lead that it wouldn't look back from. By the time there were eight minutes left, the Orange led by 19 thanks to Cooney and Ennis heating up.
Given the physical nature enjoyed by both schools, the game wouldn't be complete without a hard foul, and we got one midway through the second half. Cooney was driving to the basket on a fast break following another Indiana turnover, and Austin Etherington got frisky. He went for the ball with one hand and lightly shoved Cooney in the back with the other. The shove, combined with Cooney's momentum, was enough to send the sophomore into a violent collision with the basket support. Cooney turned out to be okay, but Etherington was sent off with a flagrant foul.
The Hoosiers fell into some of the pitfalls we thought they might. They failed to effectively shoot over Syracuse's zone (29 percent from beyond the arc) and turned the ball over far too often (16 times). There were some good things to take away, however. They got to the foul line 24 times, grabbed 11 offensive rebounds, and didn't allow Syracuse's forwards to do much on offense. Unfortunately, most of those offensive rebounds were in the first half, and Syracuse's guard scoring was more than enough to power it past an Indiana team that was flummoxed on offense more often than not.
It will be interesting to see if the Hoosier role players Troy Williams and Jeremy Hollowell can grow into larger roles as the season progresses. In this game, Ferrell and Vonleh were asked to shoulder too much of the load, and the other three starters shot 5-for-20 from the field. Indiana next plays at home versus North Florida on Saturday.