Freshmen Smith And Durham Step Up In 78-68 Win Over Illinois

Justin Smith and Aljami Durham have had very up-and-down freshmen seasons, sometimes providing a huge spark and other times being non-factors.

On Wednesday night, both players were at their best as they helped the Indiana Hoosiers beat the Illinois Fighting Illini 78-68 as the duo helped counter two separate runs by the Illini when the Hoosiers needed someone to step up.

The first time happened in the first half when Illinois jumped out to a 9-6 lead over the first four minutes of the game. Smith would score the Hoosiers’ next eight points as Indiana tied the game up at 14-14. After that, Durham made back-to-back baskets, one of them from three, to push the Hoosiers’ lead to 19-14 and force an Illinois timeout.

The second time came in the second half when the Illini cut a 10-point halftime deficit down to 47-45 with 14 minutes left. Smith and Durham scored 10 of the Hoosiers’ next 12 points as IU pushed the lead to 59-51 and never let Illinois get within four points for the rest of the game.

“Freshmen, they go through ups and downs. That’s what a freshman season is,” said IU coach Archie Miller. “But moments like tonight, (a) hard-fought win where guys make winning plays, they stick with you — that’s how you learn how to win.”

The freshmen duo weren’t the only ones who helped Indiana get above .500 in Big Ten play for the first time in a month. Josh Newkirk had 11 crucial points, including a huge three-pointer during Illinois’ run to start the second half to help the Hoosiers stay ahead before Smith and Durham went to work.

“It’s nice to have him play the amount of minutes he did (21 minutes) and also put up some points on the board and also make some crucial shots for us,” said Miller.

Also, despite not scoring as much as he usually does, Juwan Morgan played a huge role as he played amazing defense and in the process really stuffed the stat sheet as he finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, 4 steals, and 5 blocks.

To Miller it was just another day of Morgan carrying the team.

“If he’s not a first-team, all-conference member maybe it’s because of our record. But I have a hard time imagining there’s an impactful player on a team that’s done as much as him for us.”

The Hoosiers now must go on the road for their next two games, starting with a trip to Iowa on Saturday. But they’ll enter that stretch now having won three games in a row by 10+ points.

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How Two Huge Runs Helped The Hoosiers Beat Iowa

Scoring runs, especially in a sport like basketball where you score often, are one of the most exhilarating experiences for both players and fans. They also demoralize your opponent and change their mindset from “trying to win the game” to “trying to stop the bleeding”.

The Indiana Hoosiers needed two of them on Monday night to get their 77-64 win over the Iowa Hawkeyes. The Hoosiers got a 17-1 run right before halftime and then, after allowing the Hawkeyes to go on a 16-2 run of their own, the Hoosiers regained control with an 18-0 run during the middle of the second half to put the game out of reach.

“I was really pleased, for the most part, other than the lack of responsibility coming out of halftime,” said Indiana Coach Archie Miller. “That just can’t happen, especially at home. (But) we ended up digging ourselves back out of that hole and were able to finish the game off.”

Here is a breakdown of what transpired during the two key runs that helped Coach Miller earn his first Big Ten Conference victory:


Iowa 19, Indiana 17 (9:08-1st half)

The first IU run started with De’Ron Davis splitting a pair of free throws. Josh Newkirk would then take a rebound coast-to-coast for the go-ahead layup with 8:03 left. Two minutes later Jordan Bohannon split a pair of free throws to tie the game. (20-20, 6:25-1st half)

Indiana grabbed the missed free throw but was unable to get anything on the fast break. The Hawkeyes’ defense stifled the Hoosiers during the offensive possession, almost forcing a shot clock violation. Yet Devonte Green threw up a fadeaway three-pointer with one second on the shot clock and, like his two half court shots last season, he somehow made it. (IU 23-20, 5:54-1st half)

The Hoosier defense went into lockdown mode over the next 83 seconds, forcing three consecutive Hawkeye turnovers. On the offensive end, a Robert Johnson steal led to a Juwan Morgan layup and a Collin Hartman steal led to another difficult jumper by Green. The third turnover had Green making a great pass to Johnson for three more points. (IU 30-20, 4:33-1st half)

After a quick timeout, Iowa committed its fourth consecutive turnover as Josh Newkirk got the steal and while he missed the layup, Green was there to clean it up. (IU 32-20, 4:11-1st half)

The Hawkeyes finally got off their first field goal attempt in five possessions but missed the shot. Hartman got the rebound and Johnson was sent to the foul line, where after the TV break he hit both free throws. (IU 34-20, 3:43-1st half)

Stats during the 17-1 run:
6-of-9 shooting (66.7%)
2-of-3 from three (66.7%)
3-of-5 from the foul line (60.0%)
7 rebounds
1 assist
4 steals
2 turnovers
Iowa shot 0-of-7 (1-of-2 from the foul line) and had 6 turnovers


Morgan, who finished with a double-double (15 points and 10 rebounds), wasn’t a huge factor in either of the Hoosiers’ big scoring runs but deserves credit for helping end Iowa’s large run.

After Iowa had cut it to 43-42, Morgan rebounded a missed Green layup and drew the foul, making both free throws. The Hawkeyes would again cut the Hoosier lead to one point when Morgan again came up with a clutch rebound, this time drawing the foul and making the bucket for a three-point play.

Thanks to his two huge offensive rebounds and five straight points, Iowa never had the ball with a chance to take the lead away from Indiana and thus let the Hoosiers hang around long enough to recover and go for the kill.

Indiana 53, Iowa 50 (13:05-2nd half)

Iowa would score their last points for six and a half minutes on a Cordell Pemsi layup where he was fouled. Pemsi would miss the foul shot, with the ball rebounded by Hartman. The newly entered Davis then went to work as he converted a layup on a pass from Hartman and then blocked Dom Uhl on the other end. (IU 55-50, 12:21-2nd half)

Iowa retained possession but missed another layup that was again rebounded by Hartman and led to a three-pointer in transition by Newkirk. Uhl would then commit a turnover that would take the game to the under-12 timeout. (IU 58-50, 11:41-2nd half)

Out of the timeout, Hartman would connect with Davis again in the paint for two. Davis then stole the ball on the next Iowa possession and got fouled but he ended up missing both free throws. The Hawkeyes couldn’t take advantage as they continued to miss shots, missing six in a row at that point. Meanwhile Johnson and Davis scored on layups while Hartman hit a three-pointer that forced Iowa to call a timeout. (IU 67-50, 8:59-2nd half)

Even with Johnson, Davis, and Hartman now all on the bench coming out of the timeout, the run continued. Iowa would miss three more shots as Morgan added a layup and Zach McRoberts added a running jumper to cap off the run and seal the game for the Hoosiers. (IU 71-50, 7:15-2nd half)

Stats during the 18-0 run:
8-of-10 shooting (80.0%)
2-of-3 from three (66.7%)
0-of-2 from the foul line (0.0%)
9 rebounds
6 assist
2 steals
1 block
1 turnover
Iowa shot 0-of-9 and had 3 turnovers

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.

Indiana Flirts With Multiple School Records In Blowout Win Over Austin Peay

With Big Ten season about to start, the Indiana Hoosiers used their last tune-up game as a chance to make team history.

The Hoosiers flirted with three different school records during their 97-62 win over the Austin Peay Governors. They ultimately fell short on all three but the Hoosiers look more than ready for when they face Nebraska next Wednesday and transition to the conference play

Here is a look at the three school records that were within striking distance on Thursday:

Most Threes In A Game (Team):

  • IU Record: 19 vs Illinois (2016)
  • Attempt At Record: 15 vs Austin Peay (2016)

The magnitude of this record has gradually desensitized due to how many times this record has either been broken or threatened. This became the ninth time under Head Coach Tom Crean that the Hoosiers have made at least 15 three-pointers in a game. The Hoosiers have already broken the record twice in the past two years, hitting 18 against Minnesota during the 2014-2015 season and then breaking it the next season when the Hoosiers made 19 against Illinois. On Thursday, the Hoosiers made 11 three-pointers in the first half, making the necessary 20 to break the current record a realistic goal. After the final buzzer sounded, seven different Hoosiers made a three-pointer including Devonte Green, who made a half- court heave right before the halftime buzzer.

“Yeah, once you see one or two go down, the rim gets a little bigger,” said James Blackmon Jr. about the team’s three-point shooting.

Most Threes In A Game (Individual):

  • IU Record: 9 (Roderick Wilmont and Matt Roth)
  • Attempt At Record: 6 (Robert Johnson)

Robert Johnson opened the game on fire, hitting three three-pointers in the first four minutes of the game. It was so ridiculous that Johnson attempted a “heat-check” three (or basically a difficult shot you’re only allowed to attempt when you have made a couple in a row) with 15:35 still left in the first half. Johnson only slowed down a little as he finished the first half with five made shots from behind the arc. Yet the inevitable blowout cut Johnson’s time short in the second half as he only made one more deep ball after halftime. His six three-pointers set a new career-high and he fell one point shy of matching career-high for points in a game (he finished with 20).

“I was just getting a lot of open shots,” said Johnson about his performance. “It just happens the way we move the ball. It can be any guy at any time. So when you see an opening you just gotta take it.”

Most Assists In A Game (Individual):

  • IU Record: 15 (Michael Lewis and Keith Smart)
  • Attempt At Record: 11 (Josh Newkirk)

This seemed very realistic when Josh Newkirk dished back-to-back assists to Juwan Morgan with five minutes left in the first half. After the second layup went in, Newkirk had already accumulated eight assists after just 15 minutes. Newkirk was a big reason behind Johnson’s performance, assisting on four of his six three-pointers. In fact, seven of Newkirk’s 11 assists were on three-pointers. However, the most impressive thing about Newkirk’s performance was the fact that he didn’t commit his first turnover until six minutes into the second half, after he had already dished out his 11th and final assist of the night. Newkirk also recorded his first career double-double as he also scored 11 points.

“I was more in attack mode,” said Newkirk about his career-best night. “When I saw the defense colliding I just made the simple pass.”

 

 

Indiana Plays Like A Champion In Front Of 1981 Title Team, Beats #3 North Carolina

Before the game, former Indiana baseball star Kyle Swarber was honored for helping the Chicago Cubs win its first World Series in 108 years. During halftime, the 1981 Hoosiers were honored for winning the NCAA championship 35 years ago. Following each of those two events were two 20-minute periods that culminated in the 2016-2017 Indiana Hoosiers beating the #3 North Carolina Tar Heels 76-67 and looking very much like a team that could be honored on its own one day as a champion.

Coming off an impressive performance in Maui, the Tar Heels were put in an unfamiliar position as they never led once on Wednesday with the Hoosiers taking control of the game from the tip and never letting go thanks to some great defense and rebounding.

“Coach (Rob) Judson did a great job with the game plan”, said Rob Johnson about how the Hoosiers were able to slow down the explosive offense of the Tar Heels. “He gave us a breakdown of everything each guy liked to do. So we just wanted to take those away and make it tough for them.”

“We know their bigs are the best in the country”, said Thomas Bryant about the importance of keeping North Carolina off the glass, “and we knew that we had our work cut out for us at the beginning. So we wanted to establish that mindset and get out there and get after them.”

On the offensive side, OG Anunoby stepped up in a big way as he led the Hoosiers with 16 points and added five rebounds, two assists, and two blocks before leaving the game with an ankle injury in the final minutes.

Anunoby is a bit of an enigma, as came onto the scene late during his freshman year as a three-and-D wing. This season, he’s trying to show that his athleticism can translate into him becoming a superstar. While not close to being one yet, his importance was clear last week when a serious illness kept from being much of a factor during the Hoosiers’ upset loss to Fort Wayne. That’s what makes his performance on Wednesday so encouraging and his ankle injury so potentially discouraging.

Yet even if Anunoby misses time, the Hoosiers showed they were a great TEAM on Wednesday with multiple players playing crucial roles in the victory.

  • Thomas Bryant (14 points, 7 rebounds, 2 steals) scored seven of the Hoosiers first 11 second-half points to counter North Carolina’s comeback attempt in the early minutes after halftime.
  • Rob Johnson (11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 steals) was the first half catalyst as he scored seven points and assisted on another basket to help the Hoosiers jump out to a 17-7 lead during the first six minutes.
  • James Blackmon Jr. (14 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists) came back after missing the last game and grabbed six rebounds during the final 10 minutes of the game, including a couple of huge defensive rebounds that helped prevent the Tar Heels from narrowing the Hoosiers’ lead.
  • Josh Newkirk (10 points, 3 assists) did a great job running the offense at times and De’Ron Davis (5 points, 3 rebounds, 2 blocks) was a key part of the Hoosiers’ 13-4 run that ballooned the Indiana lead to 28-11 midway through the first half and also made a clutch post-up bucket with 3:02 left to push it to a three-basket Indiana lead.

People remember the 1981 Hoosiers as being Isiah Thomas’ team. While he was a big part of their success, they wouldn’t have cut down the nets if it weren’t for the play of Ted Kitchel, Ray Tolbert, Randy Wittman, and Landon Turner.

While it’s way too early to compare this season’s group of important players to those legends, the potential for them to work together and complete the same goal is a very real possibility. Anunoby, Bryant, Johnson, Blackmon, Newkirk, and Davis are all capable of playing a key role in winning a championship.

Just like Schwarber played a key role in the Cubs winning a championship.