Morgan And McRoberts Shine In Win Over Penguins, But Need Teammates To Follow Suit For B1G Success

In what is usually a meaningless game against a low-major school right before conference play picks up again, the Indiana Hoosiers saw two players still give 110% on the floor and help the team finish non-conference play with a 79-51 win over Youngstown State.

To nobody’s surprise, those two players were Juwan Morgan and Zach McRoberts.

Morgan finished with a game-high 16 points while adding six rebounds, three steals, and 2 blocks and McRoberts scored seven points as well as grabbed a team-high eight rebounds as the Hoosiers overcame a terrible first half showing to earn their second straight win.

This season has been a coming-out part for Morgan, who is the team’s leading scorer (15.3ppg) and leading rebounder (7.2) after averaging just 7.7 points and 5.6 rebounds last season. Meanwhile McRoberts has continued to see his role increase as his hard work has earned the respect of Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. Hard work that Miller would like to see his other players emulate.

“We need to get some other guys on this team fired up and ready to go and playing like that. I think Zach (McRoberts) embodies that and we need to get some other guys on this team fired up.”

It’s not just effort either as Miller is aware that some players have regressed as the season has gone along, particularly De’Ron Davis.

“We got to get De’Ron (Davis) going right now. (He) really, in my mind, isn’t playing anywhere near where he was a month ago.”

Just comparing Davis’ scoring stats from November to December is eye-opening. Davis averaged 12 points per game on 75.6% shooting in the month of November but has seen those numbers go down to 7 points per game on 50% shooting in the month of December.

“We’ve got to get him rolling again, get him back in practice competing. If you (don’t give maximum effort), you’re going to struggle; you can’t cheat the process.”

However, Davis isn’t the only Hoosier that needs to find consistent success.

Robert Johnson has been fairly consistent this season but it’s worrisome that during a three-game stretch against Michigan, Iowa, and Louisville he averaged just five points per contest, including a scoreless game against the Louisville Cardinals. He’s also been extremely streaky from deep as he has hit on just 32.4% (23 of 71) of his three-point attempts, a considerable drop from his career average of 38.6%.

Josh Newkirk has only reached double-digit points in four of the 14 games he has played despite starting every game and averaging 23.9minutes per game. Devonte Green shot 43.6% from deep in his freshman year, but has become such a streaky shooter that his shooting percentage from behind the arc is down all the way to 29.6% (16 of 54) after going one for his last 14 during the last three games.

The talent is there for the Hoosiers to have a competitive Big Ten season. All the team has to do is follow the example set by Morgan and McRoberts.

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How Zach McRoberts’ Value To The Hoosier Just Rose Even Higher

Indiana’s 87-59 win over Tennessee Tech on Thursday night was more than just trying to move past the Fort Wayne performance. Like most non-conference games this time of year, it’s about trying to figure out team identities before going into conference play, or in the Big Ten’s case the bulk of conference play.

For the Hoosiers, it was about how much they could rely on walk-on Zach McRoberts without clogging up the offense.

For all the good McRoberts has brought the Hoosiers during his two seasons with the team, the reoccurring trend of stalling up the offense has persisted. McRoberts’ unselfish play always finds him making the extra pass even when it wasn’t necessary, as if he was an offensive lineman who’s job is to do the dirty work (such as grab rebounds, deflect passes, and play solid defense) and make it possible for others to score. That has led opposing defenders to play off of McRoberts and give themselves an extra defender to help close in on passing lanes.

The best way to remedy that problem is to force McRoberts’ defender to guard him. Which is what happened on Thursday night.

While his stat line in the box score won’t jump off the page, that’s actually a good thing. No longer is there a player who plays 20+ minutes and shoots maybe one or two shots. Instead, McRoberts shot whenever he felt he was open with the flow of the offense or whenever he sensed his defender was backing off, leading to a season-high seven shot attempts. He finished with eight points, which included him going two of five from deep. This after taking only 14 shots during the nine games and 110 minutes he had played this season before Thursday night.

“They chose not to guard him. So he found himself open and didn’t hesitate,” said Indiana Coach Archie Miller. “I was happy to see him make a couple because that’s a big thing for him (to be able) to create a little offense out there.”

While the announcer from the classic video game NBA Jam wouldn’t quite say McRoberts was “on fire” Thursday night, it was an important game for both the Hoosiers and the Hoosiers’ future opponents.

When asked about his increase in three-point shooting the past couple of games, McRoberts was nice enough to give his future opponents a message about his increase in three-point shooting frequency.

“Just if I’m open, taking open shots. That’s really what I’m looking to do.”

Meaning that all future opponents should probably still guard him or face the consequences.

The Other Side: How Fort Wayne Views Its Second Straight Win Against Indiana

For the Indiana Hoosiers, Monday night was a bad case of deja vu.

After seemingly turning the corner with their upset win over Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic, the Hoosiers rapidly regressed back to the team that lost by 21 points to Indiana State at the beginning of the season. In fact, the 92-72 loss tot he Fort Wayne Mastodons almost completely mirrors the season opener.

So instead of rehashing the same old story, let’s do something different and look at things from the other side.

What is Fort Wayne’s perspective on the win? How did the Hoosiers’ performance appear to a Mastrodon program that now has a two-game winning streak over the Hoosiers?

“What happened at the end of the day was that they felt the pressure of our poise on offense, because we played our process for 40 minutes,” said Fort Wayne Head Coach Jon Coffman, who despite now having a winning record against Indiana still holds them in high regard.

“I have so much pride in our state’s basketball, and there’s so much tradition that’s happened (in Assembly Hall). For our guys to do that with a ton of newcomers — we have six freshmen on our squad — I’m so proud of those four upperclassmen who played in that game last year.”

They also knew that Juwan Morgan was going to be a problem, and despite his team containing Morgan, Coffman still talked about how impressed he was with Morgan’s performance against Notre Dame and how the game plan was to get Morgan in foul trouble, which did happen.

Also apparently Indiana’s defense wasn’t as helpless as it looked to Hoosier fans, as to Coffman, this was just the Mastrodons playing their game.

“We got great shot, after great shot, after great shot. 17 threes is a good night for us, but that’s not surprising because we’ve done that before. But what was really good was that we stuck with being us.”

The Hoosiers may have taken a step back on Monday night, but if they follow that mantra of “sticking with being themselves” like the Mastrodons did, the Hoosiers will find themselves back on track.

How Two Huge Runs Helped The Hoosiers Beat Iowa

Scoring runs, especially in a sport like basketball where you score often, are one of the most exhilarating experiences for both players and fans. They also demoralize your opponent and change their mindset from “trying to win the game” to “trying to stop the bleeding”.

The Indiana Hoosiers needed two of them on Monday night to get their 77-64 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hoosiers got a 17-1 run right before halftime and then, after allowing the Hawkeyes to go on a 16-2 run of their own, the Hoosiers regained control with an 18-0 run during the middle of the second half to put the game out of reach.

“I was really pleased, for the most part, other than the lack of responsibility coming out of halftime,” said Indiana Coach Archie Miller. “That just can’t happen, especially at home. (But) we ended up digging ourselves back out of that hole and were able to finish the game off.”

Here is a breakdown of what transpired during the two key runs that helped Coach Miller earn his first Big Ten Conference victory:


Iowa 19, Indiana 17 (9:08-1st half)

The first IU run started with De’Ron Davis splitting a pair of free throws. Josh Newkirk would then take a rebound coast-to-coast for the go-ahead layup with 8:03 left. Two minutes later Jordan Bohannon split a pair of free throws to tie the game. (20-20, 6:25-1st half)

Indiana grabbed the missed free throw but was unable to get anything on the fast break. The Hawkeyes’ defense stifled the Hoosiers during the offensive possession, almost forcing a shot clock violation. Yet Devonte Green threw up a fadeaway three-pointer with one second on the shot clock and, like his two half court shots last season, he somehow made it. (IU 23-20, 5:54-1st half)

The Hoosier defense went into lockdown mode over the next 83 seconds, forcing three consecutive Hawkeye turnovers. On the offensive end, a Robert Johnson steal led to a Juwan Morgan layup and a Collin Hartman steal led to another difficult jumper by Green. The third turnover had Green making a great pass to Johnson for three more points. (IU 30-20, 4:33-1st half)

After a quick timeout, Iowa committed its fourth consecutive turnover as Josh Newkirk got the steal and while he missed the layup, Green was there to clean it up. (IU 32-20, 4:11-1st half)

The Hawkeyes finally got off their first field goal attempt in five possessions but missed the shot. Hartman got the rebound and Johnson was sent to the foul line, where after the TV break he hit both free throws. (IU 34-20, 3:43-1st half)

Stats during the 17-1 run:
6-of-9 shooting (66.7%)
2-of-3 from three (66.7%)
3-of-5 from the foul line (60.0%)
7 rebounds
1 assist
4 steals
2 turnovers
Iowa shot 0-of-7 (1-of-2 from the foul line) and had 6 turnovers


Morgan, who finished with a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds), wasn’t a huge factor in either of the Hoosiers’ big scoring runs but deserves credit for helping end Iowa’s large run.

After Iowa had cut it to 43-42, Morgan rebounded a missed Green layup and drew the foul, making both free throws. The Hawkeyes would again cut the Hoosier lead to one point when Morgan again came up with a clutch rebound, this time drawing the foul and making the bucket for a three-point play.

Thanks to his two huge offensive rebounds and five straight points, Iowa never had the ball with a chance to take the lead away from Indiana and thus let the Hoosiers hang around long enough to recover and go for the kill.

Indiana 53, Iowa 50 (13:05-2nd half)

Iowa would score their last points for six and a half minutes on a Cordell Pemsi layup where he was fouled. Pemsi would miss the foul shot, with the ball rebounded by Hartman. The newly entered Davis then went to work as he converted a layup on a pass from Hartman and then blocked Dom Uhl on the other end. (IU 55-50, 12:21-2nd half)

Iowa retained possession but missed another layup that was again rebounded by Hartman and led to a three-pointer in transition by Newkirk. Uhl would then commit a turnover that would take the game to the under-12 timeout. (IU 58-50, 11:41-2nd half)

Out of the timeout, Hartman would connect with Davis again in the paint for two. Davis then stole the ball on the next Iowa possession and got fouled but he ended up missing both free throws. The Hawkeyes couldn’t take advantage as they continued to miss shots, missing six in a row at that point. Meanwhile Johnson and Davis scored on layups while Hartman hit a three-pointer that forced Iowa to call a timeout. (IU 67-50, 8:59-2nd half)

Even with Johnson, Davis, and Hartman now all on the bench coming out of the timeout, the run continued. Iowa would miss three more shots as Morgan added a layup and Zach McRoberts added a running jumper to cap off the run and seal the game for the Hoosiers. (IU 71-50, 7:15-2nd half)

Stats during the 18-0 run:
8-of-10 shooting (80.0%)
2-of-3 from three (66.7%)
0-of-2 from the foul line (0.0%)
9 rebounds
6 assist
2 steals
1 block
1 turnover
Iowa shot 0-of-9 and had 3 turnovers