Juwan Morgan Has Near Perfect Senior Day As Indiana Dominates Rutgers

Juwan Morgan has risen to the occasion numerous times over his four-year career for the Cream and Crimson, so it should come as no surprise that on his Senior Day he put up one of his best performances yet as he lead the Indiana Hoosiers to a much-needed 89-73 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday.

Morgan made his first 10 shots on his way to a game-high 25 points in what might be his last game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers would only play at home again this season if they host an NIT game, something the Hoosiers are trying desperately not to do as they continue to make their case for the NCAA Tournament.

Morgan played just 22 minutes due to foul trouble but made the most of it, outscoring Rutgers as a whole during the first eight minutes of the game 12 to 10 and scored nine straight points for the Hoosiers early in the second half to push the Indiana lead to 20.

The Senior forward isn’t originally from Indiana, instead coming from Missouri, but has been the textbook definition of a Hoosier from day one, always making the hustle play and playing for the good of the team. Morgan was a glue guy off the bench his first two seasons, but during his final two seasons he has become the team’s unquestioned leader. Now he ends his final regular with 1,298 points, just one point shy of tying Tom Bolyard for 29th on IU’s all-time scoring list.

“I think the way he works. His leadership. His attitude. He’s a competitor,” said fellow Senior Zach McRoberts about what impresses him most about Morgan. “I think he wants to be the best in everything he does and guys see that and it’s contagious. He’s been a great leader and I appreciate everything he’s done for us.”

Devonte Green was also a huge contributor for the Indiana Hoosiers [17-14 (8-12)] as he added 16 points off the bench. The Junior from New York has scored in double figures the last three games and has assisted on 11 baskets compared to just four turnovers during the four-game winning streak.

“He’s really settled in,” said Indiana Coach Archie Miller. “He knows we need him to not make flashy plays or do anything crazy. He knows we need him to score baskets when he’s open, and we need him to make plays for others.”

This might have also been the curtain call for Romeo Langford in Bloomington before he jumps to the NBA. The freshmen wing struggled from the floor early, making just one field goal in the first half, but was able to get to the foul line numerous times, where he went 8-of-10 from the charity stripe. He would find his rhythm in the second half and finish with 20 points and six rebounds.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights [14-16 (7-13)] received 18 points from Eugene Omoruyi and 17 points from Caleb McConnell, but received little help elsewhere as the rest of the team made 13 of 36 (36.1%) from the floor and the team as a whole committed 12 turnovers that turned into 14 points for the Hoosiers.

The Indiana Hoosiers will now take that four-game winning streak into the Big Ten Tournament and must win a few more to solidify an NCAA Tournament bid. However, considering how well they have been playing lately as well as how unorthodox this season has been, don’t be surprised if this is the year the Hoosiers finally go on a run in the Big Ten tournament.

Unlikely Heroes Smith And Green Give Indiana The Season Sweep Against Michigan State

Coming off the second ever home loss to the Indiana Hoosiers during the Tom Izzo era, there was no way the Michigan State Spartans wouldn’t come into Bloomington and get revenge in a much needed game for the Spartans’ Big Ten Conference Championship chances.

However it looks like Justin Smith didn’t get that memo.

The sophomore forward scored a career-high 24 points, including 3 three-pointers, as the Hoosiers once again stunned the Spartans, this time 63-62 to give IU its second straight win over a ranked opponent as well as the season sweep against Michigan State.

“Attitude is everything,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller when explaining how Smith broke out against the Spartans. “When your attitude is great and you’re focused in on just doing whatever you can to help, good things tend to happen, and I think that’s where Justin really changed his mindset.”

A lightning rod for criticism this entire season, Smith single-handedly shouldered a floundering first half offense that saw players other than Smith hit just 4-of-19 (21.1%) on field goal attempts while he scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. It would end up keeping the Hoosiers in the game long enough for his teammates to get going as a combination of clutch shooting and fantastic defense helped Indiana [15-14 (6-12)] overcome an 11-point second half deficit.

What’s even more impressive is that most of that clutch second half shooting came from fellow “fall guy” Devonte Green.

Known for being consistently inconsistent, Green played a vital role in the second half comeback scoring 11 of his 13 points after halftime and hit two momentum-shifting threes during the final six minutes.

The first one ended a quick 5-0 Michigan State run that had turned a one-possession game into a three-possession game, while the second one occurred with four minutes left and started the final 7-0 run that ended the game.

“When he’s engaged, he’s as talented of a guy as you can have,” said Miller about Green. “When he’s not engaged, obviously he’s like everyone else, it sticks out. I think he was engaged today, made some plays. Devonte hit some really big shots for us in the game to keep us hanging around.”

That 7-0 run spanned the final 4:13, as the Spartans never scored again after a Matt McQuaid jumper. The Hoosiers would finally tie the game on a put back layup from Juwan Morgan, who finished with 7 points and 11 rebounds, and also drew a foul on the basket which led to the go-ahead free throw.

Cassius Winston had an exceptional game for Michigan State [23-6 (14-4)], scoring 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and also dishing out 11 assists. However, one of his four missed shots came at the worst possible time as his potential game winner with less than eight seconds left was expertly defended by Rob Phinisee.

During a season where the longer it goes the less sense it makes, it’s only fitting that the two most controversial players on the team came to IU’s rescue with the season on the line. Now, as if things couldn’t get more confusing, the Hoosiers find themselves somehow back on the bubble thanks to now having seven Quadrant 1 wins, which are the most prestigious types of wins on an NCAA Tournament resume.

The Hoosiers still need to win their last two regular season games (at Illinois, vs Rutgers), but after two months of disappointment, hope is finally here now that it is March.

Third Time Is The Charm As Indiana Pulls Off The Upset In Double Overtime Over Wisconsin

After close hard-fought losses to Purdue and Iowa, the Indiana Hoosiers finally got over the hump by finishing off the Wisconsin Badgers 75-73 for their second win of the month, both of which have come against ranked teams in overtime.

However, this time it took two overtime periods.

In a season where the Indiana Hoosiers refuse to have a game that doesn’t raise their fans’ blood pressure, IU saw the ball in their possession with under 10 seconds on three different occasions:

  • Five seconds to go in the second half
  • 13 seconds remaining in the first overtime
  • Nine seconds remaining in the second overtime

Each time the Hoosiers had a chance to finish off the Badgers, but it wasn’t until attempt number three that Indiana succeeded.

Here is how those possessions played out and why Indiana was able to win a close game after so many close calls:

Attempt #1: Five seconds to go in the second half

The Hoosiers had already executed in draining the clock down while getting the go-ahead bucket when Rob Phinisee made a huge layup with eight seconds remaining. However, all of that was undone when Al Durham was almost immediately called for a foul that put D’Mitrik Trice to the foul line, where he tied the game by making both free throws.

Having played the role of hero in the past (remember the Butler game) and also feeling confident after hitting a go-ahead layup just earlier, Phinisee took control of the ball during the final five seconds and launched a three from the right wing. However this time the shot did not fall because he never got set when attempting the shot. The bigger problem with this possession was that Romeo Langford never touched the ball, something Indiana Coach Archie Miller would try to remedy if given the opportunity again.

Attempt #2: 13 seconds remaining in the first overtime

The Hoosiers found themselves up by three with 20 seconds remaining after a tough bucket from Langford in the paint. However, as has been the case for the Hoosiers since the calendar hit 2019, IU’s hard work was countered by a back-breaking three-pointer as Trice yet again saved the Badgers with a fast break three-pointer to tie with 13 seconds remaining.

This time with the clock winding down the ball was in Langford’s hands at just above the foul line. Yet Khalil Iverson made the bold move to try and poke the ball away from Langford and succeeded as both scrambled for the loose ball. It ended up going out of bounds with two seconds left.

While the ball remained in Indiana’s possession the damage was already done as the Hoosiers were forced to in-bound and immediately shoot. This ended very badly as only Durham was able to get open a good 35 feet away from the basket and chucked up an air ball. Yet again, Langford didn’t get to attempt the final shot.

Attempt #3: Nine seconds remaining in the second overtime

A missed Iverson layup was rebounded by Race Thompson with less than 30 seconds remaining and immediately given to Langford. Wisconsin then tried to trap the talented freshman and almost forced a turnover but a couple of nice touch passes by Thompson and Phinisee directed the ball to a wide open De’Ron Davis who absorbed the desperation foul and made the layup.

Davis would miss the free throw, giving the ball to Wisconsin down three with 15 seconds remaining. Trice would yet again draw the foul, this time getting Devonte Green on a three-point fake. The Wisconsin sophomore would make all three of his foul shots, tying the game yet again with nine seconds remaining.

Like in the first overtime, Langford brought the ball up the court but this time, with the help of a fake screen by Phinisee, Langford used Iverson’s hesitation to blow past him and get to the rim, where Langford banked the layup with 0.8 seconds left.

“Finally I hit one,” said Langford with a sigh of relief about the game-winner. Langford had previously come up short during the last couple of games when taking the final shot. He said he learned from his past mistakes to not settle for the jump shot.

“We talked about it after the Iowa game,” said Miller. “Don’t settle. Get to the rim.”

Miller was also quick to praise Phinisee for his role in the game-winner.

“Rob did a great job, we asked him to come up and interfere a little bit and get out. The minute he did that, I thought their guy just flinched just a quick second. And the minute he did it, I knew Romeo’s shoulder was going to get by him.”

It’s unclear if this is the start of an end-of-season run for the Hoosiers or just a respite from a cursed season, but we know for sure that this will be a game to look back on in the future whenever the Hoosiers need to find confidence in themselves.

Hoosiers Suffer A Huge Gut Punch In Loss To Buckeyes

The Indiana Hoosiers yet again found themselves in a hole on Sunday, but this time things were looking different. That is until normalcy came crashing back down.

Despite finding themselves down eight with less than 10 minutes left, the Hoosiers rallied and seemingly took control of the game.
Everything seemed to be clicking as the Hoosiers sank three consecutive three-pointers and tied the Ohio State Buckeyes at 47-47 with 4:54 remaining, and looked just like the team that beat the Michigan State Spartans last weekend when they pulled ahead 52-49 on a Devonte Green trey with 1:46 left.

Yet it was all unraveled in that last 1:46. After C.J. Jackson hit a back-breaking end-of-the-shot-clock three pointer to tie the game, Rob Phinisee drove to the basket only to get his layup attempt blocked out of bounds with seven seconds remaining on the shot clock and 46 seconds left on the game clock. IU Coach Archie Miller called one of his final two timeouts to draw up a play only for the Hoosiers to burn the second one because they couldn’t get the ball inbounds.

Yet at the cost of two timeouts, the Hoosiers never got a shot attempt up as Juwan Morgan forced a pass inside to a posted-up Romeo Langford that was deflected and picked up by the Buckeyes.

“We drew up a play that put Juwan (Morgan) and Romeo (Langford) in a position to try and either drive it from the top or get a post-up,” said Miller about the intent behind the play. “We tried to get the ball right at the basket with Romeo, maybe get fouled or get a quick bucket.”

Adding salt to the wound, Ohio State Head Coach Chris Holtmann drew up a slip screen play for his team on the other end that resulted in an open basket due to a late rotation by the helpside defense.

With 20 seconds remaining and no timeouts left, the compounded result was Langford playing heroball and barely missing his three-point attempt. One last chance was given after a missed Ohio State free throw but again without that final timeout, a wave of chaos ensued and Green was forced to chuck a tough-looking shot with the clock going down.

In addition to blowing such a late lead at home, the Hoosiers’ 55-52 home loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes was a huge gut punch for a number of reasons.

  1. It was against a fellow Big Ten underachiever in Ohio State, which had gone from being comfortably in the NCAA Tournament to being on the bubble thanks to a five-game losing streak during conference play and is just now starting to recover from it.
  2. It was a game the Hoosiers needed so they could keep up all the positive momentum from the Michigan State game, with the Iowa loss seen as an acceptable outcome against a team that is one of the 25 best in the country playing well. Ohio State was on Indiana’s level and the Hoosiers should expect to win at home.
  3. Indiana blew a game where they had finally flipped the turnover script, this time being the aggressive team that scored a ton of points off the opponents’ turnovers, which ended up being 21 Hoosier points off of 15 Buckeye turnovers. It also wasted a clutch three-point shooting performance (four consecutive made three-pointers during the comeback) for a team that struggles to shoot from deep

Yet despite all the motivation you could ever need, it wasn’t enough and now the Hoosiers find themselves digging out of their biggest hole yet, as they will likely need to either win the rest of their regular season games or win the Big Ten Tournament to find themselves in the NCAA Tournament. While not impossible, the Hoosiers now find themselves dancing on an microscopically thin tightrope.

Hoosiers Maintain Renewed Effort Level, But Can’t Stop Clutch Bohannon, Iowa

Sometimes it isn’t your night.

Despite renewed energy coming off a huge upset over Michigan State in East Lansing this past weekend, the Indiana Hoosiers were unable to stop the lethal shooting of the Iowa Hawkeyes as IU lost 77-72 on Thursday night.

Make no mistake, this wasn’t the same Hoosier team that lost seven in a row, including 15-point and 23-point home losses to Nebraska and Michigan respectively. This was a Hoosier team that played with a similar determination to that of last Saturday night, but this time the opponent would not buckle to the pressure.

Numerous times throughout the game the Hoosiers [13-10 (4-8)] would smother the Hawkeye offense late into the shot clock, only for Iowa to make a back-breaking bucket to negate all that hard work. Some were late defensive breakdowns by Indiana, but many of them were just awesome shots by Iowa, specifically Jordan Bohannon.

The Junior Guard scored 19 of his game-high 25 points in the second half and sank multiple threes late into the shot clock, including an absolutely absurd off-balance 30-foot fade away right before the shot clock buzzer sounded with 1:31 left in the game to extend the Hawkeye lead to six points.

“Iowa deserves a ton of credit with their play,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. “They made really, really big baskets, timely baskets.”

The Hoosiers overcame a rollercoaster first half that saw them go on 13-2 and 9-0 runs but also saw them commit eight turnovers that lead to 16 Iowa points. The Hawkeyes also made seven three-points during the first half to build a 10-point halftime lead.

IU corrected most of those mistakes in the second half, limiting the Hawkeyes [18-5 (7-5)] to just 10-of-25 (40%) shooting in the second half and just 3-of-9 (33%) from deep, but they couldn’t stop Bohannon, who made all three of those treys.

Langford scored 15 of his team-high 22 points in the second half, Juwan Morgan scored 17 points but was limited to just 22 minutes because of foul trouble, and De’Ron Davis had a career-high seven assists. However, the hole was once again too deep as Iowa answered every run and made just enough shots to win.

“I wasn’t terribly disappointed in our team tonight,” said Miller. “(Iowa) has a really good team and this game, it’s going to be evaluated just like Michigan State: Are we in check with our attitude; did we come together; did we play hard, and did we play unselfish. I think we did a lot of those things. We just weren’t quite good enough to finish this one off just in terms of being able to get one-time stops.”

Considering Iowa had just beaten Big Ten-leading Michigan by 15 points this past weekend, overall Indiana did a great job competing with the Hawkeyes and were just beaten by the better team. The fight is still there in the Hoosiers, and despite now having a 4-8 conference record, the Hoosiers still have chance of making the NCAA Tournament.

Only the margin for error is now much thinner.

Hoosiers Need To Regain Confidence After Home Loss To Nebraska

Confidence.

It’s an intangible that is taken for granted until it is gone, which is what has happened to the Indiana Hoosiers recently, most notably on Monday night when they were blown out at home against the Nebraska Cornhuskers 66-51.

Whether it’s because of a never-ending flow of injuries preventing the team to gel with each other or that being nationally ranked has inspired opponents to play the Hoosiers tougher without Indiana adjusting, confidence was missing from this IU squad as the Cornhuskers were able to do as they pleased.

“To be honest with you, we have some guys that have lost some confidence,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller, “whether it’s been in and out of lineups, in and out of practices, (we’re) not real sure what we are getting out of certain rotations.”

Indiana’s tendency for slow starts hit rock bottom when the Hoosiers found themselves in a 25-7 hole more than 10 minutes into the first half. The Hoosiers were able to get the deficit down to as little as six points in large part due to the Cornhuskers missing 12 shots in a row but ultimately settled for being down nine at the half despite shooting 29.6% from the floor.

The Hoosiers [12-5 (3-3)] looked to have found their rhythm at the start of the second half when they cut the lead to 35-32 with 16:31 left, but Glynn Watson Jr. helped the Cornhuskers recover quickly as he hit back-to-back threes during a Nebraska 8-0 run that basically iced the game as Indiana never got closer than nine from there.

Watson Jr. ended up scoring 12 of his team-high 15 points in the second half for the Cornhuskers [13-4 (3-3)] and almost got a triple-double out of James Palmer, who finished with 11 points, 9 rebounds, and 7 assists. In total, Nebraska had six players score at least seven points.

Meanwhile, Indiana had just two such scorers as Romeo Langford (18 points) and Juwan Morgan (17 points) combined for 35 of the team’s 51 points. The lack of help around Langford and Morgan again seems to point to lack of confidence.

In fact, Morgan and Langford scoring the majority of the Hoosiers’ points is trend that has inflated during the past four games. On the season, Morgan and Langford have combined for 600 points (46.6% of the team total) while the rest of the team has scored 688 points.

However, the numbers have drastically shifted since the calendar changed to 2019, with the duo scoring 162 of the Indiana’s 262 points (61.5%) against Illinois, Michigan, Maryland, and Nebraska. The only other player to score in double-figures in the last four games was Devonte Green when he scored 15 against Maryland.

Even if you remove all games against weaker mid-majors, you still have Morgan and Langford accounting for 248 of Indiana’s 508 points (48.8%) it scored against Marquette, Arkansas, Duke, Northwestern, Penn State, Louisville, and Butler.

This seems to indicate a lack of confidence in the Indiana role players as well as an overreliance on Morgan and Langford, something that is not necessarily bad in a vacuum (some teams are built around the scoring of one or two players) but goes against what the Hoosiers had previously succeeded with earlier in the season.

“We’ve got to get our grip on our identity. We’ve got to start to play harder again,” said Miller. “We just need some guys to play with some confidence, and tonight we didn’t have enough guys playing at a high level. Hopefully we can get there and get it back.”

There is no easy solution to regaining confidence, one must find it through hard work and determination. The Hoosiers will need to find that confidence quickly as four of the next five games are on the road with the only home game being against Michigan. Hopefully the loss to Nebraska was a wake-up call that the Hoosiers need to compose themselves in the face of adversity. If they can do that, then their confidence should return.

Langford, Hoosiers Shake Off Illini To Improve To 3-0 In Big Ten Play

At least it wasn’t another one-score game.

Despite some sloppy play during the game’s first 11 minutes, the Indiana Hoosiers were able to enforce their will defensively during the final nine minutes of the first half and used Romeo Langford’s career-high 28 points to get past a feisty Illinois Fighting Illini team 73-65 on Thursday night.

The Hoosiers [12-2 (3-0)] fell behind 25-15 halfway through the opening half as the Illini used a frantic pace and made eight of the team’s first 13 shots to take control of the game early. Yet the offense and pace would flipped the other way for the remainder of the game as the Hoosiers clamped down on defense and took the ball to the basket instead of settling for long jump shots.

In fact, the Hoosiers’ defense was so suffocating that it forced the Illini to commit five shot clock violations during the final 30 minutes of the game and six in total. Indiana’s ability to prevent Illinois from getting up shots was not just the result of inspired play, but instead was the payoff of many tough practices.

“We work very, very hard in practice on 12-seconds-or-less-on-the-clock defense and at the end of the day you sort of know what you’re going to be dealing with,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. “You’re going to deal with high ball screens. You’re going to deal with some type of an action where you’re picking and popping; and for us we work on it every day.”

While the Fighting Illini [4-10 (0-3)] offense was blanketed, their defense was assaulted by Langford’s strong drives to the basket, especially in the second half where the freshman scored 19 of his career-high 28 points, including IU’s first 10 points after halftime.

“We knew going into the game, (the Illini) are a real aggressive team, so they like to play the passing lane. So that’s going to leave open driving lanes,” said Langford. “When we had that little slump scoring on the offensive end, I felt we weren’t driving. So when I got back into the game, Coach (Miller) told me I needed to get more aggressive to get us going, and that’s just what I did.”

Coming off his historic triple-double against Jacksonville, Juwan Morgan continued to fill up the stat sheet as he recorded his sixth double-double of the season, contributing 15 points and 10 rebounds for the Hoosiers.

Both Langford and Morgan will need to perform as well as they did Thursday, if not better, for the Hoosiers to have a chance on Sunday when they travel to Ann Arbor to face unbeaten Michigan.

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.

How A Gutsy And Short-Handed Indiana Hoosier Team Survived UT-Arlington’s Epic Comeback

Merely looking at boxscores can be very misleading. What ended up being a 78-64 win for the Indiana Hoosiers over the UT-Arlington Mavericks looks like a somewhat comfortable win on the surface, but anyone who watched the contest can attest to the fact that there was nothing comfortable about this game.

That can be interpreted in a literal sense too as before the game started, news came out that De’Ron Davis would be unable to play, bringing the total of injured scholarship players to five and leaving IU Coach Archie Miller with just a seven-man rotation.

Which quickly became a six-man rotation when Al Durham fell awkwardly on his back after scoring the first basket of the game. He would stay in for a little while longer but when he was subbed out with 7:58 left in the first half, he never returned to the game.

Still the six-man rotation of Romeo Langford, Rob Phinisee, Juwan Morgan, Justin Smith, Evan Fitzner, and Damezi Anderson pressed on and pushed a 24-14 lead from when Durham went out to a 39-22 halftime score.

Yet the Mavericks didn’t panic. Despite shooting a horrendous 1-of-12 from behind the arc in the first half, they kept to their gameplan and were rewarded as the shots from deep finally started to fall. Combine that with a suffocating defense against a fatigued Hoosier squad (remember IU was just over 48 hours removed from a grueling loss at Arkansas) and in the span of 12 minutes, Indiana’s lead went from 48-28 to just 61-60 with 6:33 left.

During those dozen minutes, the Mavericks played with swagger. Confidently launching threes when the stats said otherwise. Forcing the Hoosiers to commit turnover after turnover. They believed they were going to come back and win.

Then Hoosier Nation stepped into action.

Despite the student section being absent due to Thanksgiving Break, the seats at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall were still occupied with thousands of IU fans who cheered on the Hoosiers throughout the game. Yet with Indiana’s lead dwindling, the crowd became louder and louder as they tried to encourage their Cream and Crimson warriors.

“Without question, the energy our crowd gives our players, they feed off of (it),” said Coach Miller. “(The crowd) knew in that last seven, eight minutes we needed them. I thought they stepped up.”

As soon as UT-Arlington cut the deficit to just a single point, Indiana immediately countered on the next possession when Smith converted a layup off of a lobbed pass from Fitzner to end a 6-0 Maverick run.

That basket sparked a loud reaction from the crowd and suddenly that confidence in the Mavericks started to waver, so much so that UT-Arlington Head Coach Chris Ogden smartly called a timeout to ice the crowd and draw out a play for his team.

However, it didn’t work. Hoosier Nation retaliated by being even louder after the timeout and it was at that point that all that confidence waned.

Sensing the chink in the armor, Morgan asserted himself, scoring once and assisting on the other two IU baskets as the Hoosiers pushed the lead back to seven.

“When things aren’t going real well, you need your aces to kind of stick their head out and say let’s go, and I thought he did,” said Miller.

Even an incidental headbutt that caused Langford to leave the game with a bloody nose couldn’t stop the Hoosiers from gutting it out as Anderson hit a huge three just a minute later that basically iced the game as the lead returned to double-digits.

Morgan demonstrated his senior leadership not just at the end but throughout the game, finishing with 23 points, 10 rebounds, and four assists. Langford added 16 points and eight rebounds, while Phinisee had eight points, four assists, and three steals.

The final result was a well-earned victory in the face of adversity. Yet that adversity won’t be going away with the addition of three more scholarship players on the injury report and no guarantee any of them will even be available to play Friday vs UC Davis. Yet Morgan and his team remain undaunted.

“If it gets to the point where we have to play five people 40 minutes a game then that’s what we’ll do,” said Morgan. “Our bodies are in condition well enough to do it, but if it comes to it then that’s what we’re going to do, and we’ll fight as hard as we can.”