Freshmen Phinisee And Langford Give Indiana A Huge Win Over Louisville

The freshmen again came to play for the Indiana Hoosiers, as the freshmen backcourt of Rob Phinisee and Romeo Langford played crucial roles in IU’s 68-67 win against the Louisville Cardinals on Saturday afternoon.

Aside from an early 2-2 tie, the Hoosiers trailed throughout most of the game, narrowing the deficit to just two points on four different occasions before finally crossing that hurdle on a Phinisee three-pointer to give the Hoosiers a 49-47 lead with 8:36 left in the second half.

Phinisee would give Indiana (8-2) the lead for good when he hit another three with just 1:25 remaining to put IU up 60-58. The freshman from Lafayette made 3 of 5 (60%) from behind the arc while the rest of the Hoosiers shot a combined 1 of 9 (11.1%) from deep.

“He’s a good shooter,” said IU head coach Archie Miller. “The two (three-pointers) he hit in the second half were big. You need your point guard to be able to do that.”

Langford, facing the team once thought to be the favorite to land him earlier in his recruitment, finished with a team-high 21 points and four assists. Most impressively, he steadied his shaky free throw shooting (5 of 10 during the first 39 and a half minutes) during the final 30 seconds to hit his final four foul shots.

“It started in the summer when they came in willing to work, willing to learn,” said Juwan Morgan about his freshmen teammates’ ability to perform well in pressure situations. “Closer and closer to the Big Ten, they’re becoming more like veterans. We can’t call them freshmen any more because the plays they’re making down the stretch are big plays for us.”

The Louisville Cardinals (6-3) nearly made an unbelievable comeback when Christen Cunningham sank a half court shot at the buzzer while trying to get contact against the nearby Hoosier defenders but was unable to draw that contact. He finished with 16 points while Jordan Nwora had an amazing game with a game-high 24 points and 14 rebounds.

The Hoosiers also got great contributions from Morgan (15 points and 5 rebounds), Justin Smith (9 points and 9 rebounds) and De’Ron Davis (8 points in 14 minutes of play).

The Hoosiers will get a week to prepare for their next game, which will be a matchup with Butler in the Crossroads Classic. It will be another tough game but if Phinisee and Langford play like they did today, the Hoosiers have a great chance of adding another signature non-conference win to their resume.

Langford Helps Indiana Cross Finish Line Against Northwestern In His Big Ten Debut

Juwan Morgan ended up leaving Indiana’s Big Ten opener against Northwestern with a leg injury and it became apparent that the Hoosiers would have to overcome their three-point deficit during the final three and a half minutes without their senior leader, who had accumulated 17 points and 12 rebounds to that point.

Naturally the responsibility would fall upon Indiana’s star freshman Romeo Langford, but considering the responsibility was thrust upon him in the closing minutes of his first ever Big Ten game and with his team trailing, it would be understandable if he faltered.

Yet he didn’t.

Instead, Langford scored a team-high 20 points, including the go-ahead basket on a running floater with 39 seconds left to give the Indiana Hoosiers a 68-66 win over the Northwestern Wildcats to start Big Ten conference play.

“I feel like (it) was already stated without saying,” said Langford about if Indiana Coach Archie Miller asked him to step up in Morgan’s absence. “We just knew that it was crunch time and we still gotta do what it takes to win, and Coach (Miller) drew up a play and we executed a play down low.”

It wasn’t the only time last year’s Mr. Basketball for the state of Indiana took over when the Hoosiers needed him.

IU took a quick 9-4 lead over Northwestern, but the Wildcats made it known right away that the whole game would be a dogfight as they quickly tied it less than four minutes later and took the lead midway through the first half.

It was then when Langford took over scoring duty for the Hoosiers, as he scored seven straight points for his team during a four-minute stretch and followed it up with a big assist on an Evan Fitzner three that, combined with Rob Phinisee’s steal and layup, tied the game at 31 with three and a half minutes left in the first half.

Langford did more than just score as he also finished with five rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. He also shot 8-of-13 from the floor and made all three of his free throws.

“The guy’s absolutely a heck of a guy to be around everyday,” praised Miller, “He works hard. Doesn’t say much. Continues to get better. (He) had his best all-around game tonight without question, offensively and defensively.”

While the severity of Morgan’s injury is currently unknown, at the very least the Hoosiers know they can start relying on Langford more and that his star is ready and willing to shine bright.