Despite Losing To Duke, Indiana Showcases Its Improvement Over November

The crowd was alive, the game was entertaining, and they played their hearts out. Despite ending in a 91-81 home loss to Duke, the Hoosiers could hold their heads high at the end of the night.

Indiana’s performance was more than just pushing the number one ranked team to the brink, it was about the drastic turnaround the team has made over the course of a single month.

Twenty days ago, things were looking very uncertain. In the same building they would three weeks later lead 1# Duke late into the second half, the Hoosiers were destroyed by Indiana State 90-69. In that game, the Sycamores made 17 three-pointers and forced the Hoosiers to commit 19 turnovers.

On Wednesday night, the Hoosiers held the Blue Devils to 3 of 17 shooting from deep and committed only nine turnovers, marking the third straight game IU committed single-digit turnovers for the first time this century, and they did this against a well-coached team known for its insane length.

“If we continue to grow up and continue to keep getting better”, said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller, “tonight should be the norm in Assembly Hall.”

Part of the reason for the improvement is the stellar play of the upperclassmen.

Collin Hartman, the redshirt senior playing in his second game of the season after returning from multiple injuries including a groin injury right before the Indiana State game, scored 11 points and made several huge plays when it looked like Duke was starting to pull away.

“He’s a big, big part of what we’re doing because of who he is as a teammate, his leadership, his experience level; he’s fearless,” said Miller about Hartman’s intangibles. “I think once you start to see him get in there, more and more you’ll see our team get a little bit better and look a little bit better.”

Robert Johnson has also stepped up and has embraced the role of senior leader, going from being a non-factor against Indiana State (7 points and 4 turnovers) to leading the Hoosiers in scoring on Wednesday with 17 points, including a huge three right before half to cut into Duke’s lead.

Adding to those two key pieces is the breakout play of Junior Juwan Morgan and Sophomore De’Ron Davis.

Morgan provided a little of everything finishing with 14 points, six rebounds, two steals, and two blocks. Davis meanwhile went right at potential lottery picks Marvin Bagley III and Wendell Carter Jr. and dominated both of them on the offensive side of the ball, finishing with 16 points on 6 of 7 shooting and getting Carter to foul out.

“He’s a big weapon for us,” said Johnson about Davis. “Whenever we feel he has an advantage inside he has to get the ball. That’s something we’ll continue to do.”

At a record of 4-3, the Hoosiers now look ahead at a December filled with big-time matchups against Michigan, Iowa, Louisville, and Notre Dame among others. Yet despite ending the month of November on a loss, the improvement in this Hoosier squad in evident, as stated by the legendary Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski himself.

“That was a heck of a game. I thought Indiana played great. You could see in watching their tapes how they have just gotten better every game. How they are buying into Archie’s foundation work defensively and offensively.”

As long as the Hoosiers continue to buy in to Archie’s foundation, these kind of games will eventually turn into huge wins.

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Soft Demeanor And Bad Luck Lead To A 90-69 “Reality Check” Loss For IU In Archie Miller’s Debut

Sometimes you need a reality check to show that you need to improve on things. Sometimes your opponent is playing so well you can’t do anything to stop them.

The Indiana Hoosiers didn’t play nearly as bad as the boxscore to their 90-69 loss to Indiana State would tell you. That being said, the Hoosiers were definitely outplayed by the Sycamores and Archie Miller, coaching his first regular season game as Indiana’s Head Coach, made it no secret after the game.

“(It’s) reality. We can’t make any excuses. We played a pretty good team and they exposed us in a lot of areas.”

The Sycamores were the aggressor right from the tip. A Jordan Barnes steal on the first possession of the game led to a made three-pointer by Qiydar Davis. Davis would then return the favor two minutes later as he found Barnes for a three-pointer. That would just be the start of phenomenal shooting performance by the Sycamores who would finish with 17 made treys, one short of their school record and the most ever by an opponent at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“After a while it just became a lack of pressure, a lack of detail. And it became almost shellshocked to the point where you almost thought every one of them was going to go in,” said Miller about Indiana’s three-point defense and the Sycamores hot shooting.

“Like I told the guys, they’re not going to miss. You have to make them miss.”

However, even when IU tightened up their defense, Indiana State just kept making shots as even ill-advised and off-balance three-pointers somehow found the bottom of the net. The Sycamores at one point had hit 17 of 22 (77.3%) from behind the arc before cooling off and finishing 17 of 26 (65.4%) from deep, led by Brenton Scott’s 24 points (6 of 9 from deep) and Barnes’ 18 points (5 of 7 from deep).

There were a few positives for Indiana that came out of this game.

De’Ron Davis looks more than ready to take over the starting center spot as he finished with a team-high 14 points on 6 of 7 shooting. Juwan Morgan played fairly well finishing with 13 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals. The Hoosiers stood even with the Sycamores in the second half, with both teams scoring 36 points.

Yet staying even was not what was needed, especially after coming out of halftime down 19 points. For Miller, it’s about a “soft” team needing to get tougher.

“We’re just a soft team. You don’t have to sugarcoat it at all. I think at the end of the day, the fight, the ability to resurge, the ability to grind and get back into it regardless of what things are going on, that’s not there. That’s going to take time. We have to go through these battles like we did tonight and we’ve got to get better from it.”

While this may not have been the start Coach Miller wanted, he’s at least aware of the reality around him and is ready to help his team improve from it.

“I think everybody knows tonight wasn’t a very good night for our basketball program. But you take every negative and turn it to a positive. We’ve got to find a way to get an extreme amount of evidence to these guys and tell them the truth, move on, and keep working to get better.”

Hoosiers Get A Fairy Tale Ending On Senior Night, Squeak Past Northwestern

It was a magical night in Bloomington that culminated in Indiana’s lone senior proposing to his girlfriend on Senior Night.

But before Collin Hartman got down on one knee and became engaged to his girlfriend, his Indiana Hoosiers finally had their own happy ending as they ended their five-game losing streak by barely (and I mean barely) getting past Northwestern 63-62.

The magic started with 5:30 left in the first half. After a quick 30-second timeout in response to a 11-0 Northwestern run to extend the Wildcats’ lead to 22-14, the Hoosiers showed a passion not seen during the first 14:30 as IU finished the half on an incredible 22-0 run that ended with Devonte Green sinking a buzzer-beating three-pointer from the opposite three-point line.

Despite ending the half on such a momentum-shifting run, the Hoosiers 36-26 halftime lead didn’t last long as the Wildcats only needed 6 minutes to retake the lead and held it until the final seconds.

With 3:11 left and the Wildcats up 61-53, it looked like the clock was about to strike midnight on the Hoosiers last remaining hope of playing in the postseason. Yet the tide turned yet again as the Hoosiers finished the game on a 11-1 run that included the following:

  • Three offensive rebounds for IU in one possession
  • 87.5% free throw shooter Bryant McIntosh missing one of his free throws
  • Robert Johnson scoring just his second bucket of the game and his first since the 10:12 mark of the first half
  • James Blackmon Jr hitting a big three-pointer with 38 seconds left
  • Not fouling Northwestern and perfectly defending the Wildcats for the full shot clock
  • Not calling a timeout after grabbing the rebound with nine seconds left and having Blackmon drive to the basket only to throw an amazing pass to an open Thomas Bryant underneath the basket.
  • Bryant getting fouled but still being able to make the game-tying basket with 2.6 seconds left
  • The most dramatic go-ahead free throw make of all-time

(No seriously, the way the ball bounced up in the air before going through the hoop is something out of the end of a Disney sports movie)

What made it even more suspenseful was that McIntosh’s half court heave almost went at the buzzer but luckily for the Hoosiers it hit off the back of the rim.

The result was a win for one of Indiana’s best winners in Collin Hartman. As stated by Indiana Coach Tom Crean during the celebration, Hartman was an integral part of last year’s Big Ten championship team. He did all the little things and even stepped up in the scoring department when the Hoosiers needed him most. But perhaps the biggest lasting image of Hartman was the fact that he wanted the Hoosiers to beat Kentucky so badly that he played in the game despite having a broken wrist.

For the ultimate winner, it was only fitting that the Hoosiers made what was likely his last game in Assembly Hall a win.

Indiana’s NCAA Tournament Hopes Look Grim After Home Loss To Michigan

When the NCAA Selection Committee showed their top 16 teams this weekend, a grim reality sunk in for the Big Ten. None of the top three teams (Wisconsin, Purdue, Maryland) were among those top 16, showing that the Selection Committee does not think highly of the Big Ten this season.

That’s why it was so important for Indiana to beat fellow bubble team Michigan at home. Instead, the Hoosiers lost and now look at the realistic situation of needing to win the rest of their regular season games just to have a chance of playing in the NCAA Tournament.

Unlike the last two losses (at Wisconsin/vs Purdue) where the Hoosiers battled a top team in the conference and fell just short, IU never really gave Michigan much of a battle as the Wolverines scored the first basket and never let Indiana take the lead once. Michigan led by as many as 13 while the Hoosiers never got closer than six points in the second half.

Thomas Bryant, who had averaged 20.2 points over his last five games, was constantly doubled as he was limited to just eight points, five rebounds, and three blocks. Unfortunately, the Hoosiers had a difficult time turning the double team to their advantage and getting the ball to the open man, as Indiana again committed 15 turnovers that led to 20 points for Michigan.

The one person who did step up was De’Ron Davis. Two days removed from taking a shot to the face that made him miss most of the second half against Purdue, Davis was the only Hoosier able to take advantage of Bryant’s double-team as he scored a team-high 13 points on 4 of 5 shooting, including 5 of 6 from the free throw line.

“He played very well considering shot that he took (against Purdue),” said Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean. “And we’ve got to continue to play him more. He’s not as great in the ball screens so that sometimes limits (his minutes). But he’s very, very hard to guard and he’s got great feet, great hands and great eyes.”

Crean was really frank about his team’s performance, saying his team needs to get easier shots on offense and has to play with the same intensity as when shots do go in the basket. He was especially frustrated with the team’s consistent overhelping on defense.

“It makes no sense to be coming off the corners the way that we are with what we have out there. That’s not what we do. We guard the ball. We don’t overhelp because it’s teams like Michigan that can shoot the ball so well.”

Crean also talked about everyone on the team needing to improve communication, including himself.

“It’s very easy to be locked in and connected to one another when the shots are going, but when they aren’t going is when real leadership’s got to emerge. And I’m not shirking the responsibility one iota. One thing I’ve learned in nine years it all falls on me. But the bottom line is that we’ve got to do something to get communication up.”

“We still have a season left to play,” said Robert Johnson about his team at this moment. “So we’re not even thinking about quitting. We always look forward to the next game. Now we’re just looking forward to getting better and moving on to the next game. And that’s another opportunity.


With Indiana probably needing to win out to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive, here is a breakdown of the final five games:

  • February 15 – at Minnesota
  • February 21 – at Iowa
  • February 25 – vs Northwestern
  • February 28 – at Purdue
  • March 4 – at Ohio State

The problem with Indiana’s remaining schedule is it’s difficulty level. The slate of teams may not all be at the top of the Big Ten standings, but that doesn’t matter when you realize the Hoosiers have struggled heavily on the road this season, going 1-5 so far with the one win coming via a James Blackmon Jr. buzzer-beater at Penn State.

There’s also the fact that other than beating Purdue in West Lafayette, none of the other potential wins would be huge resume-building wins. Iowa and Ohio State are likely going to the NIT, and while Minnesota and Northwestern would be nice wins, neither is guaranteed to be in the NCAA Tournament and both would likely take a hit to their resumes if they did lose to Indiana.

Basically the formula for Indiana to have a shot come Selection Sunday is to get a huge win at Purdue and pad the overall record by avoiding anymore losses. It will be a tough road ahead, but if Johnson is right and this team isn’t quitting, they still have chance no matter how small.

Despite Bryant’s Best Effort, Indiana’s Offense Unable To Outscore Purdue

The Indiana Hoosiers held the Purdue Boilermakers, the Big Ten’s best three-point shooting team, to just 28.6% from behind the arc. The Hoosiers grabbed the same number of rebounds (35 each) and even kept the turnovers fairly close (14 to 12).

Yet despite all that, the Hoosiers again failed to gain another resume-building win as they lost to Purdue 69-64 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Thursday night.

The main cause for the loss was an unproductive offense. The usually potent IU offense struggled as Indiana shot 38.6% from the floor and 33.3% from behind the arc. In fact it’s not just this game as Indiana (averaging 81.3 points per game on the season) has averaged just 69.8 points over the last five games. When you take into account that one of those games was a triple overtime game where the Hoosiers scored 110 points against Penn State, those scoring numbers look even worse (for reference, the Hoosiers have averaged 59.8 points in the other four games)

It’s no secret that the “injury bug” has bitten the Hoosiers hard this year, but this game more than any of the last five games showed how short-handed the Hoosiers are at the moment.

  • Despite getting James Blackmon Jr. back from a leg injury, Blackmon very rarely looked like himself as he struggled with his shot all night, finishing 3 of 14  from the floor including 1 of 7 from deep.
  • Juwan Morgan, who’s playing while still injured, started strong but got into foul trouble and didn’t score after halftime.
  • Devonte Green, who had been playing well replacing Blackmon in the starting lineup, was limited to five minutes due to getting a back spasm lifting weights earlier in the week.
  • On top of all that, De’Ron Davis took a shot to the face early in the second half and missed the rest of the game.

Perhaps Purdue Head Coach Matt Painter explained it best as to why injuries really played a huge role in Indiana’s loss.

“You have to understand that Indiana doesn’t have a lot of their guys,” said Painter. “Collin Hartman is a good player, he affects winning and OG (Anunoby) is a really good player, so now when they get into foul trouble (like they did tonight) it’s not normal foul trouble, now it’s two guys are out, one just came back from injury and then you have a couple of guys in foul trouble.”

The one shining light, and the reason Indiana had a chance of actually winning the game was Thomas Bryant.

After being held in check in the first half due to foul trouble, Bryant singlehandedly carried the Hoosiers in the second half, scoring 17 of the Hoosiers’ 28 second half points. He finished with 23 points on 8 of 12 shooting, 3 of 4 from three-point range. Over the last five games, Bryant has averaged 20.2 points on an eye-popping 68.4% (39 of 57) shooting.

So when the controversial “blarge” was called with 44 seconds left (What’s a blarge? Well one referee called a blocking foul while the other called a charging foul, so the refs copped out and called a double foul. It’s okay if that definition  just confuses you more because honestly it confuses me too.),  Indiana’s fate was sealed as Thomas Bryant picked up his fifth foul.

If Bryant can keep up this level of production and can get some help from his teammates that are either not 100% yet (Blackmon, Morgan) or are wildly inconsistent as of late (Josh Newkirk, Rob Johnson), then the Hoosiers can still make the NCAA Tournament. But with six games left in the regular season, time is starting to run out.

The Episodic Summary Of Indiana’s Triple-Overtime Win Over Penn State

How does one go about summarizing a triple-overtime marathon that saw Indiana just do enough to get a much needed win?

Indiana’s 110-102 victory over the Penn State Nittany Lions had so many subplots and plot twists it practically qualifies as its own soap opera. So by dividing all of the periods (two halves and three overtimes) into their own episodes, here is the series breakdown of the five part mini-series known as Penn State at Indiana (2017):

Episode 1: Controlling The Boards

Summary: Off the heels of two embarrassing blowout road losses to Michigan and Northwestern, there was no way to overstate how important it was for the Indiana Hoosiers to win this home game against Penn State. However the Nittany Lions were out for revenge after losing at home to this Hoosier squad due to James Balckmon’s buzzer-beating three-pointer.

The Hoosiers jumped out to an early 11-6 lead that was quickly countered. Penn State made four straight three-pointers and took a 20-16 lead into the 10-minute mark of the first half.

That’s when the tide turned in the Hoosiers’ favor as Indiana outrebounded Penn State 10-2 over the next 6 minutes, including six straight rebounds at one point. Josh Newkirk scored 11 of his 12 first half points and Thomas Bryant scored 7 of  his 13 first half points during a 22-4 that had Indiana up 38-26 with 4:17 left in the first half.

The last four minutes of the period featured Penn State star freshman Tony Carr dishing out four of his six first half assists and Zach McRoberts showing that he can dunk. The first half, and the episode comes to a close as Indiana takes a 46-37 lead.

Episode 2: Tony Carr Strikes Back

Summary: A top 100 recruit out of Philadelphia, freshman Tony Carr is a rising star for the Nittany Lions. Carr had possibly his best game of the year when Indiana came to Penn State as he scored a career-high 24 points. However at halftime he had just two points on 1 of 3 shooting. He did have six assists but the Nittany Lions would need his scoring if they were to come back in this game.

Carr did just that as he went 4 of 8 in the second half and scored 12 points while also adding four assists to give himself a double-double in regulation. Nine of those points came during the first seven minutes of the second half when the Nittany Lions went on a 17-8 run to tie the game at 54.

The Hoosiers did there best over the next 12 minutes to never let Penn State take the lead. Four times the Nittany Lions tied the game, but each time Indiana responded by taking the lead again.

That is until Carr scored his final points of the second half as his “and-1” layup gave Penn State its first lead of the second half with 38 seconds left.

Bryant, who was up to 18 points at this point, responded by drawing a foul with 24 seconds left, giving him a chance to tie the game from the free throw line. Unfortunately he only made one of his two foul shots and forced the Hoosiers to have to foul Penn State’s Lamar Stevens.

Another talented freshman, Stevens had a game-high 20 points when he went to the free throw line with 22 seconds left. On top of that, Stevens was an excellent free throw shooter as his 81.3% from the foul line ranked fourth in the whole Big Ten. However, Stevens also was only able to make one of two and the Hoosiers had one more shot, down 72-70.

Stevens compounded his mistake of missing one of the free throws by fouling Indiana freshman De’Ron Davis with just three seconds left. With all of Simon Skjodt Assembly so quiet you could sit in the top row of the balcony and hear a pin drop onto the court, Davis did what neither Bryant nor Stevens could do as he made both free throws to tie the game.

The episode ends as Josh Reaves tried to break Indiana’s heart like the Hoosiers did to Penn State with Blackmon’s buzzer-beater, but Reaves buzzer-beating layup was too high off the glass as the horn rang.

Episode 3: At The Buzzer

Summary: Overtime starts with Penn State getting out to an early lead thanks to two easy dunks by Julian Moore. Blown defensive switches by Indiana looked to signal that the team was running out of gas, especially when the Nittany Lions took a 78-74 lead with 1:35 left.

After a 30 second timeout, the Hoosiers were faced with a possession that absolutely needed to end with a score. Freshman Devonte Green was unable to convert on a layup but Bryant was able to grab the missed shot before missing too. With pent up frustration and desperation, Bryant grabbed his own miss and ferociously slammed the ball through the hoop and drew contact from Moore.

Yet again Bryant missed from the foul line but 20 seconds later a steal from Newkirk gave the Hoosiers a chance to tie the game. Newkirk, who had been 3 of 6 from deep so far, got a great look but it just wasn’t able to fall as the Hoosiers were forced to foul Stevens again, this time with 27 seconds left.

Luckily for the Hoosiers, lighting struck twice as Stevens again split the pair of free throws, making it a three-point game. Desperate to get any points, Bryant was able to convert a layup with 11 seconds.

This time Penn State had their team captain and senior leader Shep Garner go to the free throw line in hopes of forcing IU to have to hit a three to continue the game. However, foul shooting again plagued the Nittany Lions as Garner was only able to make one of two.

With six seconds left, Newkirk was given the option to find the open man or take it to the rim himself. He chose the latter and skated around the defense to make a buzzer-beating layup to tie the game and send it to another overtime.

Or did he beat the buzzer? The last part of the episode takes several looks at the layup and whether or not it should count. Penn State Coach Pat Chambers was convinced it didn’t and his players start to celebrate their win. Yet one angle shows the ball just leaving the top of his fingertips as the backboard lighted up. That combined with the referees initial call of a good basket made the referees decide to count the basket and tie the game at 80.

Episode 4: Missed Opportunities

Summary: The episode opens with Coach Chambers still upset that the basket was counted but he quickly regroups and gets his players ready for the second overtime. Unfortunately his players still seem preoccupied with the call as they aren’t ready for the start of the period as Indiana scored four quick points to take its first lead since the final minute of the second half.

Sensing they have an opportunity to put the game away, the Hoosiers put the ball in Bryant’s hands and he proceeded to score eight of his career-high 31 points in the period and push Indiana’s lead to as much as six points.

With his team on the ropes, Carr again took over as he scored seven of his 23 points in the period including a huge three-pointer that cuts Indiana’s lead down to 92-91 with 36 seconds left.

In a reversal of roles from the first overtime, Newkirk was now at the line with a chance to make it a three-point lead for the Hoosiers when he only makes one of his two free throws. Carr then had the chance to hit the go-ahead three-pointer but it fell short as Green gathered the rebound and was fouled with 11 seconds left.

One made free throw would force a Penn State three-pointer to extend the game and two made free throws would clinch the win for Indiana. Unfortunately the nerves got to the freshman Green as he missed both. Carr redeemed himself as he drew a foul and tied the game by making both of his free throws.

Green is given a shot at winning the game but the episode ends as Reaves blocked his shot as the buzzer sounded yet again with both teams tied.

Episode 5: Green’s Redemption

Summary: The final episode warms up with both teams trading baskets, but it’s with 3:05 left after Newkirk hits a big three-pointer to give Indiana a 98-95 lead and it’s first make from behind the arc since the second half that the moment of truth occurs.

In an incredible plot twist, it wasn’t the short-handed Hoosiers that made the fatal error due to fatigue, but it was the Nittany Lions as the ensuing lackadaisical inbound pass was stolen by Green who redeems his two missed free throws as he made it a two-score game with the easy layup.

Green continues his redemption as he makes all four of his free throws in the period, and in the process achieved his first career double-double.

Things start to look unresolved when Bryant fouled out and Penn State narrowed Indiana’s nine point lead to just four with 43 seconds left but Newkirk and Rob Johnson closed the game out at the foul line as the Hoosiers as a whole went 10 of 10 in the third and final overtime.

When Nazeer Bostick’s three-point attempt missed and fell into the hands of Davis with Indiana up eight points with 13 seconds, Coach Chambers called for his players to stop fouling as the marathon finally came to a close.

For the Hoosiers, it was a huge win as the team improved to 5-5 in Big Ten play. But most importantly, it showed that these Hoosiers have too much heart to quit.


Cast (Boxscores):

Penn State:

Tony Carr – 23 points (7-17 FG)(2-7 3FG)(7-10 FG), 5 rebounds, 14 assists, 42 minutes.

Lamar Stevens – 26 points (9-17 FG)(2-3 3FG)(6-9 FT), 8 rebounds, 42 minutes.

Shep Garner – 16 points (5-15 FG)(4-11 3FG)(2-5 FT), 3 assists, 50 minutes.

Indiana:

Thomas Bryant – 31 points (13-18 FG)(1-1 3FG)(4-8 FT), 11 rebounds, 2 steals, 44 minutes.

Josh Newkirk – 27 points (9-14 FG)(4-8 3FG)(5-8 FT), 2 blocks, 46 minutes.

Rob Johnson – 27 points (10-17 FG)(1-5 3FG)(6-6 FT), 11 rebounds, 50 minutes.

Devonte Green – 10 points (3-11 FG)(0-4 3FG)(4-6 FT), 10 rebounds, 4 assists, 45 minutes.

De’Ron Davis – 9 points (3-8 FG)(3-3 FT), 8 rebounds, 2 steals, 2 blocks, 22 minutes.

Blackmon And McRoberts Step Up In Win Over Michigan State

With the loss of OG Anunoby, the Indiana Hoosiers know they need multiple players to step up to make up for his impact. During the Hoosiers’ 82-75 win over Michigan State on Saturday, those players were the unlikely duo of James Blackmon Jr. and Zach McRoberts.

Already averaging a team-high 17.5 points per game, Blackmon went above and beyond his usual scoring performance as he hit his first six shots (four of which were three-pointers) and finished with 33 points, tying his career-best scoring performance.

“He was ready to shoot,” said Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean. “His teammates did a great job getting him open. He (also) did a great job getting himself open with setups. His lift was good.”

Blackmon’s hot start was part of an incredible shooting display from the Hoosiers in the first half, as Indiana made its first six shot attempts from behind the arc.

“It makes it easier for all of us when (Blackmon) is hitting shots like that,” said Robert Johnson, who also provided an offensive spark with 17 points. “Guys have to try to make a plan to stop him, and that just opens up even more for us.”

While not as flashy as Blackmon’s performance, McRoberts played just as vital of a role in making up for the absence of Anunoby.

The walk-on from Carmel was a surprising choice for the fifth starter, but the risk paid off as McRoberts had his fingerprints all over this game as he finished with three points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and a block in 32 minutes of play. He also led the team in +/- with a +14 and deflections with an incredible 16.

“We know what Zach (McRoberts) can do. That’s why we’re confident when he’s out there,” said Blackmon about McRoberts’ impact. “He brings that energy and he does the little things that we need.”

McRoberts’ numbers are magnified because of the direct impact they made. Three of his five rebounds were on the offensive end, one of which set up an easy three-pointer for Blackmon that gave Indiana a 9-8 lead that the Hoosiers wouldn’t relinquish the rest of the game. He even made his only three-point attempt when the Spartan defense played too far off him.

“He works extremely hard,” said Crean. “He’s one of those guys that he wants to make (his teammates) better but he’s got to be reminded that he’s pretty good too.”

The performances of McRoberts and Blackmon showed that the Hoosiers have players capable of stepping up in Anunoby’s absence. It won’t always be them in particular but it reassured fans that the Hoosiers as a team are taking the challenge head-on instead of possibly using it as an excuse. The next few games will let us know who else on the team is ready to rise to the challenge.