BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- The sordid reality of mid-major college basketball was on display for all to see last night in Assembly Hall. No epic David vs. Goliath struggle, no thrilling comeback charge, no last-second heroics, no buzzer-beaters. Rather, this game between the Chattanooga Mocs and the Indiana Hoosiers was like so many other "guarantee games" - a nearly-guaranteed victory for the home team. Indiana defeated Chattanooga, 78-53. That's not to say the small but proud contingent of Mocs fans who made the 400-mile journey northward had no moments of glory, nothing to cheer for. Midway through the first half, Chattanooga held a 3-point lead as Omar Wattad's inexplicably-wide-open #superhoops kept falling. Meanwhile, Indiana's offense stalled out trying to feed much-touted freshman Cody Zeller in the post - Mocs coach John Shulman kept a rock-solid doubleteam on Zeller all night, holding the 6-11 center to just three shot attempts and only seven points. The ingredients for a Red Line Upset seemed to all be there: scoring, defense and a double dose of luck.
But the Indiana run the Mocs must have known would be coming, did. Sadly, Chattanooga appeared powerless to stop it. Late in the period, Shulman dialed up a zone defense - so the Hoosiers turned to their Annoying White Jump Shooter, Jordan Hulls, who promptly drilled back-to-back #superhoops within 25 seconds. The Mocs went into panic mode, chucking shots and missing their last five in a row. At the intermission, Indiana led by 12 - and that advantage was bolstered by yet another power-conference bonus: friendly officiating. The Hoosiers attempted 14 free throws in the opening stanza - a whopping 13 more than the Mocs. Of course, this rather blatant disparity didn't stop IU students from trashing the refs at every opportunity anyway.
For this game, my lottery-assigned student seat (yes, I'm a high-major student now) was in the coveted baseline section behind the south backboard. Hanging above my head were five crimson banners, of the NCAA Championship variety. Of course, none have been hung since the Bob Knight era ended and there hasn't been a trip to the Final Four in nearly a decade. For Indiana, that's abject failure, and so among the student body, Knight is still something of a fabled figure.
There's another, subtler reminder of the infamous coach, one that the IU athletics department no doubt does not advertise. A close look at the sideline reveals that each and every seat is cabled together and padlocked. There's to be no more throwing of chairs in Assembly Hall.
As in so many games, the Fifth Five told the tale, and it wasn't a happy story for Chattanooga. Whatever Shulman had told his players in the locker room, it didn't seem to take. Wattad's shots were clanking iron and point guard Keegan Irons found nothing but air. On the other end of the court, Victor Oladipo flushed a pair of BTN-highlight-reel dunks, the second of which put Indiana up by 21. The home crowd exploded, fancy graphics lit up on the definitely-high-major Jumbotron scoreboard and Chattanooga players hung their heads. With more than 16 minutes remaining, the Mocs' hopes for a season-opening stunner were done.
It only got uglier after that, so our story will end there - as it always does, with a loss.
at INDIANA 78, CHATTANOOGA 53 11/13/2011
CHATTANOOGA 0-1 (0-0) -- K. Bell 0-5 0-0 0; O. Wattad 7-14 5-5 24; D. Zlovaric 3-11 1-3 7; R. Taylor 1-7 0-0 3; R. White 1-3 0-0 3; Z. Mason 2-6 1-4 6; C. Early 0-6 0-0 0; J. Burroughs 2-4 2-2 6; L. Stokes 0-1 2-2 2; D. Hampton 1-2 0-0 2; J. Bryant 0-3 0-0 0; M. Bareika 0-1 0-0 0; D. Baker 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 17-63 11-16 53. INDIANA 2-0 (0-0) -- J. Hulls 6-9 0-0 18; V. Jones III 5-7 6-7 16; V. Oladipo 6-9 8-11 21; C. Zeller 2-3 3-5 7; C. Watford 1-7 0-1 2; W. Sheehey 3-7 0-1 6; D. Moore 0-0 0-0 0; D. Elston 1-2 1-2 3; R. Abell 0-2 3-4 3; T. Pritchard 1-1 0-0 2; A. Etherington 0-0 0-0 0; M. Roth 0-0 0-0 0; J. Howard 0-1 0-0 0; K. Barnett 0-0 0-0 0; T. Wayer 0-1 0-0 0; R. Smith 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 25-50 21-31 78.
Three-point goals: CHAT 8-22 (K. Bell 0-2; O. Wattad 5-10; C. Early 0-2; R. Taylor 1-3; Z. Mason 1-1; L. Stokes 0-1; R. White 1-3), IND 7-18 (J. Hulls 6-9; C. Watford 0-3; V. Oladipo 1-2; W. Sheehey 0-2; T. Wayer 0-1; R. Smith 0-1); Rebounds: CHAT 37 (D. Zlovaric 10), IND 34 (C. Watford 5); Assists: CHAT 11 (K. Bell 7), IND 12 (C. Watford 3); Total Fouls -- CHAT 24, IND 19; Fouled Out: CHAT-C. Early; IND-None.