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The Journal Gazette

Saturday, February 24, 2018 12:30 am

Final thoughts for Hoosiers

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – This game was there for the taking and for six seconds it looked like Indiana had taken it. When Juwan Morgan scored in the post to put the Hoosiers ahead 78-77 with seven seconds to play Friday, I began writing that the Hollywood ending had played out on Senior Night, the five players in their final game at Assembly Hall would get sent out with a thrilling double-overtime victory.

It looked that way even as Ohio State's C.J. Jackson launched his desperation 3 in the final seconds. Jackson had looked in both directions before his shot, almost panicking at seeing no one open. Somehow his shot found the net and the Hoosiers again came up short in the final moments against a ranked team at home.

It can't be said enough that the Hoosiers' last three home contests against ranked teams have all ended in losses by a total of 12 points. Indiana has clearly grown and improved as the season has progressed, but it simply hasn't been able to get over that final hump and beat one of the top teams in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers will now have to win at least one game in the Big Ten tournament to get another opportunity against one of the league's top three, Michigan State, Purdue and these Buckeyes.

This should have been a confidence-boosting win for the Hoosiers heading into the tournament. With Jackson's shot, it could become a deflating loss. After the game, however, Juwan Morgan and Robert Johnson, though despondent about the loss, sounded upbeat about the team's chances in the conference tournament. Neither seemed defeated by this loss, although it's difficult to imagine a more heart-wrenching way to lose, especially for Johnson in his final game in Assembly Hall.

In his speech to the fans after the game, Archie Miller mentioned that the group of five seniors had really bought into his system this season, playing hard at all times and always remaining coachable. That mentality is why it strikes me as unlikely this team will fold following this defeat. The Hoosiers have five days to pick themselves off the mat one more time and try to make some noise in New York. Even in defeat, this senior class should lead the team to do just that and Indiana will be a difficult out next week.