Freshmen Smith And Durham Step Up In 78-68 Win Over Illinois

Justin Smith and Aljami Durham have had very up-and-down freshmen seasons, sometimes providing a huge spark and other times being non-factors.

On Wednesday night, both players were at their best as they helped the Indiana Hoosiers beat the Illinois Fighting Illini 78-68 as the duo helped counter two separate runs by the Illini when the Hoosiers needed someone to step up.

The first time happened in the first half when Illinois jumped out to a 9-6 lead over the first four minutes of the game. Smith would score the Hoosiers’ next eight points as Indiana tied the game up at 14-14. After that, Durham made back-to-back baskets, one of them from three, to push the Hoosiers’ lead to 19-14 and force an Illinois timeout.

The second time came in the second half when the Illini cut a 10-point halftime deficit down to 47-45 with 14 minutes left. Smith and Durham scored 10 of the Hoosiers’ next 12 points as IU pushed the lead to 59-51 and never let Illinois get within four points for the rest of the game.

“Freshmen, they go through ups and downs. That’s what a freshman season is,” said IU coach Archie Miller. “But moments like tonight, (a) hard-fought win where guys make winning plays, they stick with you — that’s how you learn how to win.”

The freshmen duo weren’t the only ones who helped Indiana get above .500 in Big Ten play for the first time in a month. Josh Newkirk had 11 crucial points, including a huge three-pointer during Illinois’ run to start the second half to help the Hoosiers stay ahead before Smith and Durham went to work.

“It’s nice to have him play the amount of minutes he did (21 minutes) and also put up some points on the board and also make some crucial shots for us,” said Miller.

Also, despite not scoring as much as he usually does, Juwan Morgan played a huge role as he played amazing defense and in the process really stuffed the stat sheet as he finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, and 5 blocks.

To Miller it was just another day of Morgan carrying the team.

“If he’s not a first-team, all-conference member maybe it’s because of our record. But I have a hard time imagining there’s an impactful player on a team that’s done as much as him for us.”

The Hoosiers now must go on the road for their next two games, starting with a trip to Iowa on Saturday. But they’ll enter that stretch now having won three games in a row by 10+ points.


Hoosiers Dish Out 21 Assists During 80-56 Win Over Golden Gophers

The Indiana Hoosiers earned their second straight 20+ point win Friday night by defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers 80-56 and they did it by sharing the ball.

The Hoosiers finished with 21 assists, their most in a Big Ten game this season. Devonte Green and Juwan Morgan led the way with seven and five assists respectively, both of which were career-highs for the players.

“We’ve really just been emphasizing sharing the ball and making the right read,” said Green about team’s improved passing.

Green and Morgan each added a game-high 19 points as the Hoosiers used their great passing to shoot 30 of 53 (56.6%) from the floor. All seven players that scored at least four points for the Hoosiers shot 50% or better during the game.

  • Juwan Morgan – 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting
  • Devonte Green – 19 points on 5 of 7 shooting
  • Robert Johnson – 11 points on 5 of 9 shooting
  • Justin Smith – 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting
  • Freddie McSwain Jr. – 8 points on 3 of 6 shooting
  • Aljami Durham – 7 points on 2 of 4 shooting
  • Josh Newkirk – 4 points on 2 of 4 shooting

Johnson also had 4 assists as Indiana’s retooled starting lineup of McSwain/Morgan/Johnson/Green/McRoberts 17 of the team’s 21 assists.

“To me that five gives us the best chance,” said IU Coach Archie Miller. “That’s why we’re working with that five right now to start the game.”

The Hoosier defense also continued to lockdown the opposing team as the Golden Gophers made just 20 of 60 (33.3%) on the night. Over the past two games the Hoosiers have allowed just 99 points, the first time since January of 2002 that Indiana held back-to-back opponents to under 100 combined points (IU held Northwestern and Penn State to 98 combined points back in 2002).

The Hoosiers will look to see if they can make it three dominant wins in a row when they host Illinois on Wednesday night at  Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Grit, Toughness, And A Lot Of Rebounds Aren’t Enough For Hoosiers To Overcome Shooting Woes In Close Loss To Spartans

“In East Lansing they punked us. We came to this mindset, this can’t happen (again).”

Those were the words of Juwan Morgan after Indiana’s 63-60 loss to Michigan State in regards to the team’s performance, and what a performance it was on Saturday night.

Just a few weeks ago, the Spartans obliterated the Hoosiers 85-57. Indiana was outrebounded 45-27, outscored 17-6 on second chance points, and outscored 38-18 in the paint.

On Saturday night, the Hoosiers wouldn’t be pushed around. Instead they pushed back. The Hoosiers outrebounded the Spartans 53-29, outscored them 14-0 on second chance points, and outscored them 24-22 in the paint.

Unfortunately it wasn’t enough.

The Hoosiers dug themselves a first half deficit thanks to some horrendous shooting as IU made just 6 of 35 shots (17.1%) during the first 20 minutes. Yet despite a gigantic disadvantage in shooting (Michigan State shot 12 of 24 in the first half), the Hoosiers were still within striking distance going into the second half down just eight points.

The reason for this was because of Indiana’s huge rebounding advantage. Despite being blocked nine times in the first half, the Hoosiers kept crashing the offensive glass and were rewarded with 15 first half offensive rebounds, which is just one shy of how many total rebounds the Spartans had in the first half.

However there is a Yin to every Yang. The absurd amount of offensive rebounds meant that the Hoosiers were missing a lot of shots, which contributed to the low shooting percentage.

To counteract that and keep the Hoosiers in the game, Indiana grabbed all but one of Michigan State’s missed shots in the first half, preventing the Spartans from getting a single second chance point.

The Hoosiers would shoot much better in the second half, hitting 13 of 31 field goal attempts (41.9%) while continuing to own the boards 25-13, yet the Spartans were able to hold on thanks to their extremely efficient shooting.

Despite taking 19 fewer shots over the course of the game, Michigan State stayed ahead thanks to 48.9% overall shooting (23 of 47) compared to the 28.8% overall shooting (19 of 66) of Indiana. The Spartans were also 50% (9 of 18) from three-point range compared to the Hoosiers’ 21.1% (4 of 19).

“(Michigan State) had a lot to do with the (low shooting) numbers, just in terms of impacting the rim and the field goal percentage offense with their shot blocking and their size and they made it hard on us,” said IU Head Coach Archie Miller, who despite having narrowly lost yet again to an elite opponent, was very proud of his team’s toughness.

“Credit our guys. I thought they fought hard and played hard. We’re getting, especially against some really good teams, to the last two or three minutes and just have to find a way to make a couple of plays. And I think that’s what teams who know how to win do, teams like Michigan State and Purdue. With two minutes on the line they know they’re going to win. And right now we’re still trying to figure out how to make those dagger plays to find a way to win.”