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.

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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.

Underclassmen Guards Shine During Indiana’s Impressive Rout Of Marquette

With upperclassmen guards Devonte Green and Zach McRoberts out, it was up to two freshmen and a sophomore to hold down the fort against one of the most dangerous scoring guards in college basketball.

Despite the troubling outlook, the trio of Romeo Langford, Rob Phinisee, and Al Durham put on exceptional performances as they led the Indiana Hoosiers to a 96-73 win over the 24th ranked Marquette Golden Eagles on Wednesday night.

Langford led all scorers with 22 points while Phinisee and Durham orchestrated an extremely efficient offense by producing a combined 13 assists (eight for Phinisee and five for Durham) compared to just one turnover.

“You’re starting two freshmen and a sophomore, to say the least, I couldn’t be prouder of them,” exclaimed Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller about his young backcourt.

Phinisee and Durham not only helped set up teammates for baskets but also scored a few of their own as they recorded 12 and 13 points respectively.

Yet probably their biggest contribution was holding Golden Eagle standout Markus Howard to just 18 points on 6-of-14 shooting, including just 1-of-5 from three. Heading into the game, Howard had been averaging 26 points per game and had just won Big East Player of the Week.

“Going in, we knew how good Markus Howard was and we knew how capable he was of scoring, so we prepped for that all week,” said Durham. “So that just translated to the game. I feel our coaches really set us up to execute the game plan.”

The trio were also helped out by a standout performance from Evan Fitzner, who scored 16 points in just 18 minutes of action, including a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the arc.

“He’s a terrific offensive player,” said Miller. “Without question he fits our style. I knew it from day one. He’s a confident guy.”

Overall the Hoosiers looked both comfortable and confident throughout their first game against a formidable opponent. IU will need to bring both attributes with them when they travel to Arkansas on Sunday for what will be the Hoosiers’ first road game of the season.

IU Showcases A Deep And Talented Team In Win over Chicago State

On a night that saw our first taste of Romeo Langford lighting it up for the Cream and Crimson, there was plenty more to be excited about regarding the Indiana Hoosiers after their 104-55 win over the Chicago State Cougars.

Langford led the way with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, yet he was just one of many Hoosiers who showcased their talent on Tuesday night.

Fellow freshman guard Rob Phinisee had a rough first half with early foul trouble, but rebounded in a big way during the second half as he finished with six points, five assists, and five steals in 20 minutes of play.

“I felt Rob played real well,” said Langford about his freshman backcourt teammate. “He basically translated his game from high school into college.”

It wasn’t just the freshmen newcomers that stood out. Graduate Transfer Evan Fitzner was a huge spark off the bench as he added 14 points on a hyper-efficient 5-of-6 shooting, which included a diverse shot selection from hook shots in the post to corner threes.

“Very high IQ, very skilled offensive player,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. “He has size and length and great touch with either hand around the basket. He obviously can stretch the floor (too). I thought he did a nice job of throwing over the zone at times, catching it in the middle and skipping it out at times.”

Yet the most encouraging thing from Tuesday night was that this group of newcomers fit in so seamlessly with Indiana’s returning key players, creating a team that looks eons better than the one that was blown out by Indiana State during last season’s opening game.

Juwan Morgan may have had a quiet night on the scoring front with just nine points, but he was still an essential part of the team, grabbing a team-high eight rebounds (five of which were offensive) and also added three assists and two blocks.

Zach McRoberts is making good on his promise to be more aggressive on offense, and it paid off as he sank both of his three-point attempts and grabbed seven rebounds.

Justin Smith put his explosiveness on full display, and while he didn’t play a perfect game, he still played a huge factor for the Hoosiers drawing seven opposing fouls and finishing with 13 points.

Last, but not least, Devonte Green was able to come off the bench and bring instant-offense through his scoring and his passing, finishing with 15 points and three assists. Even more impressive, his time on the floor paired alongside Phinisee presented a unique and dynamic look for the Hoosiers that saw both players thriving off of each other.

“Devonte, he’s a real good scorer as well as passer, but I feel scoring is his main thing,” remarked Langford. “So just letting Devonte play without the ball for a little bit, when they’re both in the game at the same time, opens the court up even more for guys like me and Evan and J-Mo (Juwan).”

Yet the roster appeared even deeper as Damezi Anderson (five points, four rebounds) and De’Ron Davis (four points) played solidly for 20 and 12 minutes respectively. Also don’t forget the injured Al Durham, who looked like a prime breakout candidate during Hoosier Hysteria.

What this all means is that Coach Miller looks to have a squad that can legitimately run 10-men deep and won’t see their effectiveness wane when Morgan or Langford need a rest.

Indiana has a lot of talented players, and while they neither played perfectly (19-of-33 from the foul line) nor faced a challenging foe in Chicago State, the potential shown off on Tuesday night should make Hoosier Nation giddy with excitement for this new season.

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.

Hoosiers Dish Out 21 Assists During 80-56 Win Over Golden Gophers

The Indiana Hoosiers earned their second straight 20+ point win Friday night by defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers 80-56 and they did it by sharing the ball.

The Hoosiers finished with 21 assists, their most in a Big Ten game this season. Devonte Green and Juwan Morgan led the way with seven and five assists respectively, both of which were career-highs for the players.

“We’ve really just been emphasizing sharing the ball and making the right read,” said Green about team’s improved passing.

Green and Morgan each added a game-high 19 points as the Hoosiers used their great passing to shoot 30 of 53 (56.6%) from the floor. All seven players that scored at least four points for the Hoosiers shot 50% or better during the game.

  • Juwan Morgan – 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting
  • Devonte Green – 19 points on 5 of 7 shooting
  • Robert Johnson – 11 points on 5 of 9 shooting
  • Justin Smith – 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting
  • Freddie McSwain Jr. – 8 points on 3 of 6 shooting
  • Aljami Durham – 7 points on 2 of 4 shooting
  • Josh Newkirk – 4 points on 2 of 4 shooting

Johnson also had 4 assists as Indiana’s retooled starting lineup of McSwain/Morgan/Johnson/Green/McRoberts 17 of the team’s 21 assists.

“To me that five gives us the best chance,” said IU Coach Archie Miller. “That’s why we’re working with that five right now to start the game.”

The Hoosier defense also continued to lockdown the opposing team as the Golden Gophers made just 20 of 60 (33.3%) on the night. Over the past two games the Hoosiers have allowed just 99 points, the first time since January of 2002 that Indiana held back-to-back opponents to under 100 combined points (IU held Northwestern and Penn State to 98 combined points back in 2002).

The Hoosiers will look to see if they can make it three dominant wins in a row when they host Illinois on Wednesday night at  Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.