After a November of warm-up games against low-level mid-major teams, Tuesday night set the stage to see whether or not the 7-0 Indiana Hoosiers would be able to handle facing high-level competition such as the 17th-ranked Florida State Seminoles.
Turns out the answer was a resounding yes.
The Hoosiers’ 80-64 win over the Seminoles in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge wasn’t always pretty, and for large stretches of the game was a closely contested slugfest. Yet one thing was for certain: the Hoosiers were not intimidated by their super long, athletic opponent.
After a reasonably understandable adjustment period that saw the Seminoles dart out to a early 11-4 lead, the Hoosiers calmly countered with a mixture of tight defense and great offensive ball movement to string together a 12-0 run that put Indiana in the lead for the rest of the game.
The catalyst for this run and every other huge run made by the Hoosiers on Tuesday night was senior Devonte Green, who scored five points and added an assist during the initial 12-0 run.
It was extremely important for Green to have a hot start, as his unflappable confidence was needed against one of the best defensive teams in the country. Florida State came into the night allowing just 27.7% on opposing three-point field goals, something that loomed as a big hurdle for a overall inconsistent three-point shooting team like the Hoosiers (34.7% on the season).
The outlier on the roster was Green, who had made 9 of 20 (45%) from deep in the four games he’s played this season and is a career 39.3% shooter from behind the arc. If the Hoosiers were going to find success spacing the floor and thus allowing for better ball movement, Green would need to be a problem for Florida State’s wings.
Green did that and a whole lot more as he sank five out of his seven three-pointers and drew fouls on two additional attempts. It all added up to a career game for the senior guard as he finished with 30 points.
“That’s the type of guy he is,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. “To be honest with you, those are the games he relishes, those (games) when he can have the ball in his hands and make those kinds of shots.”
In addition to the mountain of points he poured in, Green also added six rebounds, three assists, and two steals.
Trayce Jackson-Davis, having his first test against big men just as athletic as him, rose to the occasion with 15 points, eight rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.
“I thought I felt good,” said Jackson-Davis about facing more athletic big men. “Really big compliments to my teammates for putting me in open positions to score.”
Justin Smith added 14 points and five rebounds while Armaan Franklin had a season-high nine points, with five of those coming during that important 12-0 run early in the game.
“(Franklin) grew up tonight,” praised Miller about his freshman guard. “He played on a big-time stage and a big environment and made big plays. He made some things happen that weren’t probably visible to the spectator as much as they were to our staff.”
The Hoosiers were able to pass their first big test but more tests are on the way. Next up is Indiana’s first road game of the season as well as their conference opener as they travel to Madison to take on the Wisconsin Badgers. Considering that the Kohl Center has been a den of misery for the Hoosiers for quite a long time, the chances of the Hoosiers winning that game seem problematic. However, so were IU’s chances of beating an ultra-athletic Florida State team. Maybe this is a Hoosier squad built to defy expectations.