Stunning loss at Fort Wayne reveals what issues Indiana must fix – Yahoo Sports

It’s probably safe to assume Indiana coach Tom Crean won’t agree to schedule another road game at Fort Wayne anytime soon.

Not after the Mastadons sprung one of the biggest upsets of the season Tuesday night at the third-ranked Hoosiers’ expense.

Guards Bryson Scott and John Konchar scored a combined 33 points to help Fort Wayne control the game from start to finish en route to a 71-68 overtime victory. Indiana rallied from 10-point deficits in both halves to force overtime, but the Hoosiers scored only three points in the extra session.

When Indiana’s James Blackmon drove into the teeth of the Fort Wayne defense and turned the ball over with seven seconds left in overtime, the Hoosiers had no choice but to foul to extend the game. Fort Wayne’s DeAngelo Stewart sank a pair of free throws to extend his team’s lead to three and Juwan Morgan’s subsequent inbound pass was intercepted, sending hundreds of elated Mastadons fans streaming onto the floor.

While a road game against a motivated in-state opponent can sometimes be a recipe for an upset, this was still a stunning result considering the crowd support Indiana had and the trajectory of both programs.

Indiana (3-1) was only 10 days removed from upsetting Kansas on a neutral floor. Fort Wayne (3-2) had never beaten a ranked team or a Big Ten team since moving to Division I and had suffered losses by nine at Arkansas and by 18 at Illinois State already this season.

Apathetic defense and a scoreless, energy-sapped night from flu-stricken forward O.G. Anunoby contributed greatly to Indiana’s struggles. Fort Wayne guards got into the lane so frequently during the game’s first 30 minutes that the Hoosiers resorted to a 2-3 zone in hopes of walling off the paint.

That switch helped fuel Indiana’s 13-3 run over the final nine-plus minutes of regulation as Fort Wayne clanked  3-pointer after 3-pointer en route to 7-for-31 shooting from behind the arc. In fact, the Hoosiers might have won in regulation if they shot better than 7-for-24 from behind the arc or if they had an elite guard capable of making plays off the dribble.

Whereas Yogi Ferrell often bailed Indiana out in the final five minutes with his creativity off the dribble the past couple years, the Hoosiers don’t have a point guard of his caliber this season. It was actually Blackmon who had the ball in his hands most frequently down the stretch, often with disastrous results.

In the final seven minutes of regulation and the five-minute overtime period, Blackmon missed three shots and turned the ball over three times, most notably on Indiana’s second-to-last possession. It was a disappointing performance yet not a wholly unexpected one considering that outside shooting has long been more of a strength for Blackmon than creating off the dribble.

What Tuesday’s loss suggests is that Indiana will once again have both a high ceiling and a low floor this season.

The Hoosiers can beat almost anyone when their 3-pointers are falling, their defense is active and disruptive and Thomas Bryant is a force in the low post. The Hoosiers can also lose to almost anyone when their defense is lackadaisical, their outside shooters go cold and too much of a burden falls on their guards to create off the bounce.

On Tuesday night, we saw the latter combination. And it added up to a wild celebration for Fort Wayne and stomach-turning loss for Indiana.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!

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