News From Terre Haute, Indiana

March 19, 2014

Sycamores no match for Hogs

ISU’s season ends with loss to speedy Arkansas

Todd Golden
The Tribune-Star

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In the wake of Indiana State’s 91-71 Tuesday loss to Arkansas in the National Invitation Tournament, it was obvious to everyone why ISU coach Greg Lansing feared the matchup against the Razorbacks.

They just had too much for the Sycamores to handle.

Whether it was the Hogs’ quickness and athleticism, its interior defense or its array of scorers — Anthlon Bell stepped into a starting role and scored 28 — Arkansas overmatched the Sycamores in nearly every facet at Bud Walton Arena.

Lansing said after the game he was worried that Arkansas might be too difficult a hill to climb for the Sycamores. Add in the lack of preparation time and it became even more difficult.

The Sycamores paid respect to the Razorbacks’ superiority.

“It was a little bit of everything. Their length and athleticism. They’re fast and they can interchange guys. You have to give them credit. They grinded on us and they earned it,” Odum said.

It started with Bell, who made just his fourth start. He scored Arkansas’s first 10 points and was a constant source of scoring energy for a Hogs’ team that didn’t always have the best shot selection.

ISU played off of Bell early. ISU also tried a zone defense, which seemed to work on most of the Razorbacks in the first half except Bell.

“We probably gave him too much room, but we knew he was a tough shooter. Tough shooters make tough shots sometimes and he was locked in from the get-go,” said ISU point guard Jake Odum, who said he gave up some of Bell’s early buckets.

But it was more than just Bell’s hot shooting — he was 11 of 13 from the field and 6 of 8 3-point range. ISU shot 35.3 percent from the field, but it wasn’t for lack of decent shots. The lengthy Razorbacks got into ISU’s head. Arkansas had six blocked shots, but altered others, sometimes, the Sycamores did the work for them.

“We knew how aggressive they’d be. They extend their defense and have a lot of big guys. When you’re [in the paint], it’s in the back of your mind. They made us alter some shots,” ISU forward Justin Gant said.

Did the Sycamores over-think some of their misses? Perhaps.

“They’re long and athletic and they have quickness coming from behind, but I thought we worried about it too much to tell you the truth. We had chances with just straight layups and we missed a lot of easy ones. We could’ve finished better,” Lansing said.

Odum was reminded of ISU’s NCAA Tournament game against Syracuse in 2011 when the Orange brought a big front line to the table.

“You get past the first guy and he’s got a 6-10 guy right behind him who can jump. That’s why they’re at Arkansas. That’s why they’re a big-time program,” Odum said.

Despite the problems, ISU closed the gap to 69-61 with 6:15 left and put itself in a position to make the last push. But Arkansas pushed back with a vengeance. The Hogs’ 20-3 run knocked the Sycamores out.

“[Cutting the deficit to eight] gave us some life, but they didn’t wear down. They stayed composed, kept pushing us, and wore us down a little bit,” Odum said.

ISU finished with 23 wins, its highest victory total since the 1979 season, and finished second in the Missouri Valley Conference, its best finish since 2000. ISU played in the postseason for its fifth straight season ... albeit without any postseason victories in that span.

“I’m proud of these guys and what they’ve accomplished this year. They’ve made going to work and coaching them the joy of my life. Its been a tremendous honor to be their coach,” Lansing said.

For seniors Odum, Cummings, Manny Arop and Lucas Eitel, it was the end of the line. The players seemed to accept their fate more so than at the MVC Tournament, when their NCAA dream died.

“It’s pretty sad, but I don’t think it’s hit me yet. I’m thankful for my time and it was a good experience,” said Eitel, a Marshall, Ill. native.

“I’ve said it a lot. I have a lot of pride putting on the jersey. I’m from Terre Haute so its been a fun time. Its been a pleasure. I love my coaches and I love my players, but good things come to an end,” Odum said.

INDIANA STATE (71) — Gant 3-12 1-2 9, Kitchell 0-5 0-0 0, Arop 4-7 3-3 12, Cummings 4-9 2-3 11, Odum 3-9 3-4 11, Eitel 0-1 0-0 0, Brown 1-5 4-4 6, Moore 3-8 0-0 6, Burnett 2-3 2-3 6, Smith 4-9 2-2 10, Bell 0-0 0-0 0. 24-68 FG, 17-21 FT, 71 TP.

ARKANSAS (91) — Clarke 2-10 6-6 10, Portis 3-13 4-5 10, Madden 4-7 3-4 11, Bell 11-13 0-1 28, Gulley 0-2 1-2 1, Wade 1-2 0-0 3, Harris 5-9 3-4 13, Scott 1-2 0-0 2, Haydar 0-0 0-0 0, Watkins 0-0 0-0 0, Williams 1-1 0-0 2, Wagner 0-0 0-0 0, Qualls 4-5 2-4 11, Kingsley 0-1 0-0 0. 32-65 FG, 19-26 FT, 91 TP.

Halftime — UA 37-31. 3-point goals — ISU 6-19 (Gant 2-4, Odum 2-4, Cummings 1-3, Arop 1-2, Smith 0-3, Eitel 0-1, Brown 0-1, Burnett 0-1); UA 8-17 (Bell 6-8, Wade 1-2, Qualls 1-2, Clarke 0-3, Portis 0-1, Madden 0-1). Rebounds — ISU 32 (Cummings 8, Kitchell 7, Moore 4, Smith 3, Gant 2, Arop 2, Odum 2, Brown 2, Burnett 2); UA 46 (Portis 13, Clarke 6, Bell 6, Madden 5, Team 4, Gulley 3, Harris 3, Qualls 2, Scott, Kingsley). Assists — ISU 12 (Odum 6, Brown 3, Gant, Arop, Cummings); UA 16 (Madden 5, Clarke 4, Portis 3, Gulley 3, Harris). Steals — ISU 7 (Cummings 4, Odum 2, Kitchell); UA 6 (Clarke 2, Madden, Harris, Haydar, Qualls). Blocks — ISU 0, UA 6 (Portis 3, Clarke 2, Qualls). Turnovers — ISU 12 (Arop 3, Gant 2, Odum 2, Brown 2, Smith 2, Kitchell); UA 13 (Portis 3, Qualls 3, Madden 2, Clarke, Bell, Scott, Haydar, Kingsley). Total fouls — ISU 20, UA 19. A — 7,096.

Next — Arkansas (22-11) faces the winner of Wednesday’s California-Utah Valley game. ISU finished its season at 23-11.