News From Terre Haute, Indiana

College

December 5, 2010

Sycamores lack toughness in rout at Wyoming

LARAMIE, Wyo. — Going into its game against Wyoming, Indiana State’s men’s basketball team was concerned about playing at 7,220 feet, the elevation at the highest Division I basketball arena in the nation.

As it turned out, defending three feet away from the basket was a much bigger problem for ISU. And it wasn’t the only malady by any stretch for the Sycamores.

Wyoming prevailed 81-51 in Mountain West-Missouri Valley Conference Challenge game that was anything but a challenge for the Cowboys.

Wyoming took advantage of lax ISU defense, 22 Sycamore turnovers and 29.4 percent ISU shooting.

ISU coach Greg Lansing was obviously bitterly disappointed with the defeat. The emphasis was on toughness in game preparation and Lansing found it shockingly lacking from the Sycamores.

“I put on the board and I told the guys that this was 100 percent going to be about toughness tonight. We got exposed. We’re not a very tough team from top to bottom. Our whole focus was on being the tougher team and we were far from that,” Lansing said.

The statistics speak for themselves. ISU’s 22 turnovers led to 32 points for Wyoming, a performance that was an unwelcome reprise of ISU’s 26 turnover performance at Ball State on Nov. 17 that led to 33 points for the Cardinals.

ISU (3-5) could not defend Wyoming (3-5) in the paint. The Cowboys scored 40 points in the paint and scored them in almost every manner imaginable. Wyoming’s guards penetrated the paint and either found Wyoming’s big men open or the big men got position on ISU’s post players in the paint.

ISU wasn’t much better defending on the perimeter as the Cowboys shot 40 percent from 3-point range in the second half, getting open looks as ISU’s defenders were late to close in on shooters.

“We didn’t play together. We tried to do too much on our own. We turned the ball over too much and we had way too many defensive mess-ups that really hurt us,” ISU guard Jake Odum said.

Meanwhile, ISU never got into any kind of offensive flow as Wyoming trapped ISU on the perimeter and in the paint. Several of ISU’s turnovers came when big men were trapped too deep under the basket and were forced to throw wild passes out to the perimeter to extricate themselves from trouble.

“We just beat ourselves. We have to be tougher. It was a big challenge for us to come on this road. It was a test for us and we didn’t step up to the plate,” said ISU swingman Dwayne Lathan, one of the few productive Sycamores offensively, as he led ISU with 18 points.

ISU started well, but it turned out to be a mirage. ISU put together an 6-0 run to take an early 10-4 lead. Jake Kelly had eight of his 15 points during that early stretch of productive play.

From there, it was all downhill for ISU. The Sycamores would score just 18 points in the next 15 minutes of game time as Wyoming’s trapping defense completely shut the Sycamores down and started to force turnovers at an alarming rate for ISU.

The Cowboys forced eight ISU turnovers during a 24-5 run that clinched the game in their favor as Wyoming surged to take a 31-17 lead. ISU couldn’t make a dent in Wyoming’s advantage as it completely fell apart in the paint. Wyoming’s last 13 points of the first half were scored in the paint as it led 40-28 at halftime.

ISU’s halftime deficit was certainly one that could be overcome, but the Sycamores showed no signs of being able to do so. Wyoming opened the second half with a 14-5 run, exploiting the Sycamores in the same ways it had in the first half.

ISU never got its deficit under 15 the rest of the way.

“It was a big disappointment for me and all the way down through the other guys. We weren’t tough,” Lathan said.

The loss clinched the MWC-MVC Challenge for the Mountain West as it took a 5-1 lead in the series at the game’s conclusion, pending three more games to be played. The MVC won last year’s Challenge 5-4.

ISU next plays host to DePaul on Wednesday.

“We have to look ourselves in the mirror and step up and not let this season get away,” Odum said.

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