Hoosiers Answer Every Spartan Challenege, Grind Out The Win

It had all the makings of a classic “Potential upset bid runs out of steam” game for the Indiana Hoosiers, who led by as many as 15, when with 11:06 remaining they found themselves trailing the Michigan State Spartans for the first time all game.

But with the benefit of hindsight, it made total sense the Hoosiers would respond, just like they did to every Spartan challenge.

The Hoosiers did just that and held on for the gritty 67-63 win. The Hoosiers now sit tied for third in the Big Ten at 5-3 (15-4 overall), but they had to earn it from Michigan State on Thursday night.

Down 15 midway through the first half, the Spartans went on a 14-2 run to make it a one possession game with five minutes until halftime. Then Armaan Franklin drove to the basket and converted a tough lay-up and drew the foul. After making the foul shot, Franklin recovered a Michigan State turnover and found Race Thompson on the fastbreak to push the lead back to eight.

The Spartans recovered and cut it to four with just 25 seconds left until the half but again the Hoosiers responded as Al Durham hit a contested three right before the buzzer went off to push IU’s lead back to seven. It was Indiana’s first made three of the game after missing its first four.

“I give Michigan State a lot of credit. They took a big punch early. And, as we knew they would, they came right back,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. “I give our guys credit though. We found a way to gut it out.”

Michigan State came out hot to start the second half, as the Spartans made their first five threes but yet still trailed Indiana until the 11:48 mark when Malik Hall tied the game on his dunk. The Spartan defense would force a long two-point attempt from Justin Smith on the next possession and finally went ahead on a three from Rocket Watts.

Yet despite seeming like the Spartans would finally put the pesky Hoosiers away, Indiana gutted it out yet again.

Despite shooting just 21.3% from three-point range on the season coming into the game, Franklin tied the game back up on his own three-pointer just a few minutes later. From there, both teams traded turns having the lead until Durham hit his second three of the game, a go-ahead dagger from the right wing that broke a 60-60 tie with 1:52 left.

Rob Phinisee assisted on the huge three and on the next possession, after a Xavier Tillman basket cut Indiana’s lead to one, Phinisee found Joey Brunk for a layup to push it back to three with a minute to go. Brunk was a huge factor for the Hoosiers on the night, leading them in both points (14) and rebounds (six).

“He’s given his absolute max on everything that he’s doing. You never question his effort,” raved Miller. “His everyday approach is something, as a coach, you marvel at, the work ethic.”

The Hoosiers would have to hold on one more time as the Spartans had possession down two with nine seconds left. Cassius Winston, who had 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half, got a screen and had IU’s freshman star Trayce Jackson-Davis one-on-one, but was unable to shake him as he was forced to dump it off to Tillman on the fly and he missed the layup. It was a perfectly designed ploy by Coach Miller as explained by Jackson-Davis.

“When we came out of the timeout, Coach called blue. Blue is our switch everything. And so I just didn’t want him to shoot a three. So I kind of baited him downhill and he took it, and I made a good play on the ball.”

It was the kind of win that took a total team effort, one that required all of the Hoosiers to not back down when Michigan State started turning up the heat. It’s the type of win that will hold a lot of value going forward, both as a resume win and as an example to look back on and gather strength from in future times of need.

Indiana Overcomes Cold Shooting, Still Decisively Beats Ohio State

“I thought we got our head out of the mud after Wednesday (against Northwestern). We were fortunate to win Wednesday, but we got our attitude, we got our heads together and guys were ready to go today.”

Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller was not afraid to admit that his Hoosiers needed to come together and improve if they wanted to survive in the Big Ten this season, and that’s exactly what they did on Saturday during IU’s 66-54 win over Ohio State.

It was a resounding win after a couple week stretch that saw Indiana continuously struggle in conference play, which culminated in just narrowly avoiding a home loss to the worst team in the conference. Though the Hoosiers did ultimately come up with the win against Northwestern, it still brought up questions about whether this team can compete consistently in the Big Ten. Indiana presented their evidence on Saturday and things now look much brighter as they improved to 13-3 overall and 3-2 in conference games.

Facing a talented Buckeyes team that had lost three straight and were looking to right the ship and get back on track, the Hoosiers ended up looking like the team that returned to form as they held Ohio State to just 32.7% shooting (17-of-52) and an ice-cold 21.4% (6-of-28) during the second half.

Indiana secured its second win against a ranked team, but unlike the Florida State win which saw Devonte Green explode for 30 points and saw the Hoosiers outrebound the Seminoles 35 to 25, IU was actually slightly outrebounded by the Buckeyes 36 to 35 and while Green was again the leading scorer for the Hoosiers, it was a much tamer 19 points.

In fact, this game was a far cry from your typical upset as the Hoosiers were far from perfect. Indiana faced multiple extended stretches without making a field goal, including a ridiculous stretch of 11:17 that included the last 9:57 of the first half. Yet the Hoosiers’ defense minimized the damage and the offense made just enough foul shots as Ohio State only outscored Indiana 18-6 during the run and the Buckeyes led just 34-31 at half.

Thankfully the Hoosiers had built a big enough cushion to withstand such a long drought in large part thanks to Rob Phinisee, who started for Green and hit three three-pointers in the first three and a half minutes to help Indiana sprint out to an early 13-5 lead. The Hoosiers would build that lead to 25-16 before the shots stopped falling.

“He came out hot, and that really set the tone for the rest of the team going forward during the game,” praised IU forward Justin Smith. Green added that Phinisee’s hot start also provided energy for both the crowd and the team.

The Hoosiers briefly found a rhythm to start the second half and reclaimed the lead on an 8-0 run before again going a long period without a field goal, this time for five and half minutes. Yet again the defense held serve as Ohio State managed only an 8-1 run during that span and held a 42-40 lead before Green took over the game.

The senior guard ended the field goal drought with a huge three to give Indiana back the lead, and even though Buckeye freshman D.J. Carton answered with a three of his own, it would be the last field goal for the Buckeyes for nearly six minutes as Green would lead Indiana on a 14-3 run that put the game away.

While the Hoosiers did earn a huge win on Saturday, Miller acknowledges that the grind of the Big Ten is only going to get tougher.

“In this league it just becomes such a slugfest, you need a jolt of energy. We got a good jolt of energy (today). Now you’ve got to have some humility and figure out a way to go on the road and compete against Rutgers. It’s going to be 50 times harder than it was (Saturday), and each game that goes by is going to be 50 times harder than that one. We’ve just got to keep raising our level of intensity and we’ve got to stay with it, and I think this team has a chance.”

Green Looks Back To Normal As Indiana Beats Princeton

It only took his second game back for Devonte Green to start playing like himself.

Green fueled a second half charge for the Indiana Hoosiers, who turned a closely contested game at half against Princeton into a 79-54 rout by the time the final buzzer sounded.

The senior guard scored 16 points, including two of the team’s three three-pointers, and added 4 assists for a Hoosier team that improved to 5-0 for the first time since the 2013-2014 season.

The Hoosiers pulled away in the second half with an inspired defensive effort, allowing the Tigers to shoot just 7-of-25 (28.0%) after allowing them to shoot 12-of-26 (46.2%) in the first half.

Green played a huge part in the second half turnaround, playing 16 minutes in the second half and posting a +21 differential during that time (+29 differential for the game).

Joey Brunk was also a huge factor for the Hoosiers on Wednesday night as he had season-highs with 16 points and eight rebounds. Justin Smith added 14 points, Trayce Jackson-Davis had 11 points, and Al Durham dished out six assists.

However, the main story was finally getting to see a true glimpse of what Green brings to this Indiana team.

Green was seamlessly filling the role of playmaker, as his amazingly accurate passes and his ability to shake off his defender (including an incredible step-back three-pointer) had the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall buzzing with each play he made.

“He’s so aggressive and he knows he can impact the game,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. “I think the only thing I stress to him is to play smart and play simple. If he does that, he’ll play a big role with what we’re doing.”

Wednesday night also marked the first time this season that the Hoosiers’ four major rotation guards all played. Durham and Armaan Franklin got the start and played 29 and 12 minutes respectively. Green finished with 26 minutes and started the second half while Phinisee played 11 minutes before getting hit in the face midway through the second half and not returning to the game. He did return to the bench very quickly after getting checked on so it appears it wasn’t serious.

The Hoosiers will look to keep rolling next week as they finish The Indiana Classic with games against Louisiana Tech and South Dakota State before hosting Florida State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Indiana’s Rollercoaster Season Comes To An End Against Wichita State In NIT Quarterfinals

You could call the Indiana Hoosiers’ 2018-2019 season many things.

Hopeful. Depressing.

Lucky. Cursed.

Fun. Funny.

Amusing. Exhausting.

Interesting. Agonizing.

Random. Repetitive.

All of these words not only described the Hoosiers’ overall season, it also described any one game during the season, including Indiana’s 73-63 loss to the Wichita State Shockers in the NIT Quarterfinals.

This rollercoaster of emotions finally came to a complete stop on Tuesday night, and now Hoosier Nation has exited the ride to differing results. Some had fun. Others ran for the nearest garbage bin and threw up. Regardless of the reaction, this season, for better or worse, will not be forgotten by those who took this ride.

Yet how did this wild ride come into existence? Why did games fluctuate so wildly? What does this season mean for the future? Now that the season is finally over, it is time to try answering these three questions:

1) How did this season become so unstable and unpredictable?

The truth is we never got to see the team that was advertised to us coming into the season. From the beginning, injuries have plagued the Hoosiers, taking countless games from potential rotation players, including the entire season from Jerome Hunter.

In fact, only Juwan Morgan and Justin Smith ended up playing all 35 of the Hoosiers’ games this season, and Morgan could have easily missed time but played through it.

Devonte Green missed four games in November and then was not allowed to play for three more in January. De’Ron Davis missed five games. Rob Phinisee missed three games. Al Durham missed one game but played half of the season with an injured hand. Zach McRoberts had an injured back most of the season. Race Thompson missed over half the season as well. Even Romeo Langford missed the final three games because injuries that he played through finally caught up to him.

Because of all these injuries, and the way they were spaced out, the team was constantly in flux as players entered and left the rotation constantly, hampering the creation of any kind of chemistry among the team.

2) Why did the team’s performance change so suddenly and often?

Injuries explain why the season was so uneven, but don’t explain why the team’s performance could change in the middle of a game. This is because this Hoosier team had a fatal flaw, one it wasn’t used to when compared to past seasons.

It couldn’t shoot well consistently.

“Shooting from the three-point line is the number one reason in many ways that our team could not get over the hump so many times (this season),” explained Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller about the biggest issue with the team’s consistency.

It’s easy to see this wasn’t a good three-point shooting team. On the year, the Hoosiers attempted 676 treys and only connected on 211 of them (31.2%), which was made even more painful by the team’s propensity for falling behind early, either because of committing turnovers or shooting (and missing) a lot of threes early in the game.

Needing to make threes became necessary to get back into games, and with only one player who hit above 35% from long range (Green hit 41% from deep on the season), it became easier for defenses to key in on that player and forced lesser three-point shooters to force up shots.

However, three-point shooting wasn’t the only type of shot that let the team down over the course of the season. Foul shooting was abysmal across the board, with not a single player hitting above 75% from the free throw line. Durham and Green ended up being the team’s most reliable free throw shooters and they only hit on 74% and 73.6% of their foul shots respectively. Such poor foul shooting made holding a small lead very hard.

3) How will the events of this season shape future IU seasons?

This is the question everyone wants answered the most, and unfortunately can’t be answered yet. Just like how every member of Hoosier Nation has reacted differently to this rollercoaster ride, so too will the players who experienced it firsthand. Will they leave to find new beginnings? Will they use the frustration they felt to fuel their motivation to get better and make the team better? Will it have no effect at all and we’ll have a repeat performance next season?

We’ll have to wait for the ride to open again next fall.

Devonte Green Comes Up Big Again As Hoosiers Hold Off Razorbacks In Second Round Of NIT

March has been Devonte Green’s month.

The Indiana Hoosiers’ great March continued on Saturday afternoon, as the Hoosiers outlasted the Arkansas Razorbacks 63-60 to advance to the NIT Quarterfinals. If they win in the Quarterfinals, the Hoosiers will head out to New York to play in Madison Square Garden.

Now wouldn’t that be a perfect present for the player most responsible for Indiana’s end-of-season turnaround.

Green comes from North Babylon, New York, which is just less than 50 miles away from where the Hoosiers would play at the beginning of April if they advance to the NIT Semifinals. To make it to New York, Indiana will need Green to continue his March Magic.

Through his first 21 games, Green, much like the Hoosiers, were in the middle of a lost season. Instead of taking a big leap or showing gradual improvement, Green’s numbers stagnated or in some cases were even worse than his sophomore campaign:

  • Devonte Green’s Sophomore Season: 7.6ppg (36.4% FG) (33.7% 3FG) (70.5% FT), 1.9rpg, 2.5apg, 1.03spg, 1.9tpg, 22.5mpg
  • Devonte Green’s Junior Season (November – February): 7.4ppg (34.7% FG) (34.7% 3FG) (76.9% FT), 3.1rpg, 2.8apg, 1.10spg, 2.3tpg, 23.7mpg

However, in the month of March, Green seems to have turned a corner and has been a huge part of the Hoosiers’ 5-1 record this month. In fact, even during the lone loss against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament, Green helped dig the Hoosiers out of a 20-point hole to make it a one-possession game in the final seconds behind a career-high 26 points and eight made three-pointers.

Saturday was no exception, as Green was not only the Hoosiers’ leading scorer with 18 points, but was also their leading rebounder as he hauled in a career-high 11 rebounds for his second career double-double.

Green, who scored in double-figures six times during his first 21 games, has now scored in double-figures for six straight games, all of which have taken place in March.

  • Devonte Green’s Junior Season (March 2019): 16.0ppg (54.1% FG) (55.3% 3FG) (81.8% FT), 3.8rpg, 3.8apg, 2.00spg, 2.0tpg, 29.5mpg

“We’ve won six out of seven, and we probably don’t win any of them without Devonte’s ability on both ends of the floor,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller referring to the Hoosiers’ March games as well as their late February win over Wisconsin. “He’s our most important cog in the wheel right now.”

Green’s performance on Saturday could be considered his most impressive yet by the fact he was only able to practice once between games due to being sick all week long.

Juwan Morgan had another stellar game as he added 15 points and eight rebounds, while De’Ron Davis added 10 points and six rebounds for a Hoosier team that was missing leading scorer Romeo Langford for the second straight game. In his place, Coach Miller opted for a dual point guard lineup, as Rob Phinisee (seven points, seven rebounds, five assists) along with Green have worked well together to keep the offense moving even without the team’s star freshman.

Indiana now awaits to host the winner of Clemson-Wichita State on Tuesday night, with the winner of that contest earning the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden. No doubt Green will give his all to make sure that is a reality for the Hoosiers, just like has all month long.

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.

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.