With upperclassmen guards Devonte Green and Zach McRoberts out, it was up to two freshmen and a sophomore to hold down the fort against one of the most dangerous scoring guards in college basketball.
Despite the troubling outlook, the trio of Romeo Langford, Rob Phinisee, and Al Durham put on exceptional performances as they led the Indiana Hoosiers to a 96-73 win over the 24th ranked Marquette Golden Eagles on Wednesday night.
Langford led all scorers with 22 points while Phinisee and Durham orchestrated an extremely efficient offense by producing a combined 13 assists (eight for Phinisee and five for Durham) compared to just one turnover.
“You’re starting two freshmen and a sophomore, to say the least, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” exclaimed Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller about his young backcourt.
Phinisee and Durham not only helped set up teammates for baskets but also scored a few of their own as they recorded 12 and 13 points respectively.
Yet probably their biggest contribution was holding Golden Eagle standout Markus Howard to just 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including just 1-of-5 from three. Heading into the game, Howard had been averaging 26 points per game and had just won Big East Player of the Week.
“Going in, we knew how good Markus Howard was and we knew how capable he was of scoring, so we prepped for that all week,” said Durham. “So that just translated to the game. I feel our coaches really set us up to execute the game plan.”
The trio were also helped out by a standout performance from Evan Fitzner, who scored 16 points in just 18 minutes of action, including a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc.
“He’s a terrific offensive player,” said Miller. “Without question he fits our style. I knew it from day one. He’s a confident guy.”
Overall the Hoosiers looked both comfortable and confident throughout their first game against a formidable opponent. IU will need to bring both attributes with them when they travel to Arkansas on Sunday for what will be the Hoosiers’ first road game of the season.