News From Terre Haute, Indiana

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February 22, 2014

Sycamores 'non-competitive' in 77-66 loss at Missouri State

Odum scores 14 to lead ISU

SPRINGFIELD, MO. — Indiana State’s men’s basketball team kept pushing a boulder up a mountain in the second half Saturday at Missouri State, only to see it tumble right back down.

The trouble wasn’t the boulder. It was how the mountain got there to begin with.

A poor first half forced ISU to play comeback ball in the second half. The Sycamores did that — they erased a 15-point deficit down to one — but ISU couldn’t get over the top and it fell to Missouri State 77-66 in JQH Arena.

“It’s extremely disappointing. We dug ourselves a hole right from the beginning,” ISU swingman Manny Arop said.

Indiana State coach Greg Lansing lamented ISU’s lack of competitiveness as it sought its 10th road win of the season.

“I thought we were very non-competitive for the most part, other than a few guys,” Lansing said. “The times we’ve not competed as we needed to, we got beat. It’s my fault. To win a championship, I haven’t held them accountable enough on a daily basis. If you really want to contend for something, you don’t play like that.”

The loss was ISU’s first in three games. The defeat also put a stake in the heart of the Sycamores’ faint NCAA Tournament at-large hopes.

Has the win-out situation the Sycamores might have been in to get an at-large weighed on their minds? When asked about it, Lansing wasn’t having it.

“We’re talking about getting better tomorrow or the next day. We’re not thinking you have to win every game and get to the championship game and still not have a chance,” said Lansing, who was then asked whether the players were thinking it.

“I don’t know. You’d have to ask them. On a daily basis, we don’t talk about that stuff. We talk about getting better everyday and what it takes to beat Missouri State,” Lansing said.

“If you’re a competitor at all, you know there’s an information society that we live in. You know there’s things out there. If you can’t handle the pressure? You shouldn’t be at Indiana State because we want to compete for championships. I think those guys in there do, but you certainly can’t play like we did today to be able to do that.”

Jake Odum led ISU (21-7, 12-4) with 14 points. Dawon Cummings chipped in 12, but ISU converted just 36.2 percent of its shots. It was worse in the first half when ISU made just 27.8 percent. ISU marched to the line 31 times, making 27, but it couldn’t make up for the shots that weren’t falling from the field.

Yet another opponent used a 2-3 zone to throw ISU off, and once again, the Sycamores struggled to break it.

Three-point shots will usually unlock a zone, but ISU can’t make them. ISU last shot 40 percent or better from 3-point range Jan. 25 when it was 11 of 21 against Illinois State. Since then, ISU is 38 of 150 from long-range, a 25.3-percent clip.

“Teams are playing a zone because we’re hard to guard man-to-man. We have to be better against it. You have to take open shots. We’re a better team than what we’ve shown, but you look down the list and nobody made more than one 3. And also, when we get it around the basket, we have to finish stronger. We’re missing easy ones too,” Lansing said.

Few of ISU’s shots were forced and there could be little complaint about shot selection. The shots just aren’t falling, and like any slump, it’s weighing on the Sycamores.

“It’s tough sometimes. People hang their heads when they miss shots. It’s affects you on the defense end too. It did for us today,” Odum said.

The Sycamores’ ice-cold shooting was evident from tipoff as ISU missed its first seven shots. It would go on to start 2 of 16 from the field.

At first, it didn’t hurt the Sycamores too badly. The Sycamores maintained a strong defensive effort and trailed just 16-14 with 9:49 to go in the half, but then ISU got sloppy.

Five turnovers in five possessions proved as costly as its poor shooting did. Missouri State pounced as ISU’s defense simultaneously slipped. A 13-0 run by the Bears put Missouri State up 29-14.

“You can’t come out flat like we did and let them get rolling. When good teams do that, it’s hard to stop them from winning,” Odum said.

ISU’s saving grace in the first half? It got to the free-throw line. ISU converted 15 of 16 at the line. It soothed the edge of an otherwise poor half as ISU trailed 37-26 at the break.

After some false-starts early in the half, the Sycamores made its most threatening move near the midway point of the second half. A 9-0 run cut Missouri State’s lead to 47-45 with 9:40 left. ISU had a chance to take the lead, but Cummings missed a 3-pointer to put ISU in front.

Later, a Khristian Smith 3-pointer cut Missouri State’s lead to 51-50 with 7:10 left, but then ISU’s defensive resistance gave way.

Austin Ruder — who led the Bears with 15 points — hit two 3-pointers in three possessions and those were the daggers in an 8-2 run that put them up 59-52. It was part of a stretch where Missouri State (18-10, 8-8) scored on six of seven possessions.

The Sycamores were out of bullets. Missouri State did ISU no favors at the line as it made 16 of 18 in the final 3:19 to seal the deal.

Despite the loss and the shooting woes, Odum wants to take a positive approach.

“Before the season, we wanted to win 20 games, we wanted to finish top two in conference, we wanted to win the conference tournament and we wanted to make the NCAA Tournament. All of those goals are done or still available to us,” Odum said.

“We have to stay positive. I’m usually one of the most negative persons on myself and on the team. I’m going to stay positive with this one. We’ve been successful this year for the most part and we can still achieve our dreams and goals.”

ISU next plays Wednesday at Illinois State.

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