Despite Losing To Duke, Indiana Showcases Its Improvement Over November

The crowd was alive, the game was entertaining, and they played their hearts out. Despite ending in a 91-81 home loss to Duke, the Hoosiers could hold their heads high at the end of the night.

Indiana’s performance was more than just pushing the number one ranked team to the brink, it was about the drastic turnaround the team has made over the course of a single month.

Twenty days ago, things were looking very uncertain. In the same building they would three weeks later lead 1# Duke late into the second half, the Hoosiers were destroyed by Indiana State 90-69. In that game, the Sycamores made 17 three-pointers and forced the Hoosiers to commit 19 turnovers.

On Wednesday night, the Hoosiers held the Blue Devils to 3 of 17 shooting from deep and committed only nine turnovers, marking the third straight game IU committed single-digit turnovers for the first time this century, and they did this against a well-coached team known for its insane length.

“If we continue to grow up and continue to keep getting better”, said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller, “tonight should be the norm in Assembly Hall.”

Part of the reason for the improvement is the stellar play of the upperclassmen.

Collin Hartman, the redshirt senior playing in his second game of the season after returning from multiple injuries including a groin injury right before the Indiana State game, scored 11 points and made several huge plays when it looked like Duke was starting to pull away.

“He’s a big, big part of what we’re doing because of who he is as a teammate, his leadership, his experience level; he’s fearless,” said Miller about Hartman’s intangibles. “I think once you start to see him get in there, more and more you’ll see our team get a little bit better and look a little bit better.”

Robert Johnson has also stepped up and has embraced the role of senior leader, going from being a non-factor against Indiana State (7 points and 4 turnovers) to leading the Hoosiers in scoring on Wednesday with 17 points, including a huge three right before half to cut into Duke’s lead.

Adding to those two key pieces is the breakout play of Junior Juwan Morgan and Sophomore De’Ron Davis.

Morgan provided a little of everything finishing with 14 points, six rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Davis meanwhile went right at potential lottery picks Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. and dominated both of them on the offensive side of the ball, finishing with 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting and getting Carter to foul out.

“He’s a big weapon for us,” said Johnson about Davis. “Whenever we feel he has an advantage inside he has to get the ball. That’s something we’ll continue to do.”

At a record of 4-3, the Hoosiers now look ahead at a December filled with big-time matchups against Michigan, Iowa, Louisville, and Notre Dame among others. Yet despite ending the month of November on a loss, the improvement in this Hoosier squad in evident, as stated by the legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski himself.

“That was a heck of a game. I thought Indiana played great. You could see in watching their tapes how they have just gotten better every game. How they are buying into Archie’s foundation work defensively and offensively.”

As long as the Hoosiers continue to buy in to Archie’s foundation, these kind of games will eventually turn into huge wins.

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Soft Demeanor And Bad Luck Lead To A 90-69 “Reality Check” Loss For IU In Archie Miller’s Debut

Sometimes you need a reality check to show that you need to improve on things. Sometimes your opponent is playing so well you can’t do anything to stop them.

The Indiana Hoosiers didn’t play nearly as bad as the boxscore to their 90-69 loss to Indiana State would tell you. That being said, the Hoosiers were definitely outplayed by the Sycamores and Archie Miller, coaching his first regular season game as Indiana’s Head Coach, made it no secret after the game.

“(It’s) reality. We can’t make any excuses. We played a pretty good team and they exposed us in a lot of areas.”

The Sycamores were the aggressor right from the tip. A Jordan Barnes steal on the first possession of the game led to a made three-pointer by Qiydar Davis. Davis would then return the favor two minutes later as he found Barnes for a three-pointer. That would just be the start of phenomenal shooting performance by the Sycamores who would finish with 17 made treys, one short of their school record and the most ever by an opponent at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“After a while it just became a lack of pressure, a lack of detail. And it became almost shellshocked to the point where you almost thought every one of them was going to go in,” said Miller about Indiana’s three-point defense and the Sycamores hot shooting.

“Like I told the guys, they’re not going to miss. You have to make them miss.”

However, even when IU tightened up their defense, Indiana State just kept making shots as even ill-advised and off-balance three-pointers somehow found the bottom of the net. The Sycamores at one point had hit 17 of 22 (77.3%) from behind the arc before cooling off and finishing 17 of 26 (65.4%) from deep, led by Brenton Scott’s 24 points (6 of 9 from deep) and Barnes’ 18 points (5 of 7 from deep).

There were a few positives for Indiana that came out of this game.

De’Ron Davis looks more than ready to take over the starting center spot as he finished with a team-high 14 points on 6 of 7 shooting. Juwan Morgan played fairly well finishing with 13 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals. The Hoosiers stood even with the Sycamores in the second half, with both teams scoring 36 points.

Yet staying even was not what was needed, especially after coming out of halftime down 19 points. For Miller, it’s about a “soft” team needing to get tougher.

“We’re just a soft team. You don’t have to sugarcoat it at all. I think at the end of the day, the fight, the ability to resurge, the ability to grind and get back into it regardless of what things are going on, that’s not there. That’s going to take time. We have to go through these battles like we did tonight and we’ve got to get better from it.”

While this may not have been the start Coach Miller wanted, he’s at least aware of the reality around him and is ready to help his team improve from it.

“I think everybody knows tonight wasn’t a very good night for our basketball program. But you take every negative and turn it to a positive. We’ve got to find a way to get an extreme amount of evidence to these guys and tell them the truth, move on, and keep working to get better.”