Happy Thanksgiving! Today Hoosier fans can give thanks that their men’s basketball now has a winning record at 3-2 and has worked itself back from the cliff that was the season opening 90-69 home court loss to Indiana State. This team still has a long way to go but there are reasons to be optimistic, including:
- A star is emerging in Juwan Morgan. This is a level of play that we always thought might be there, but he had previously played in the shadows of other stars and struggled with various injuries.
- Turnovers, perhaps IU’s biggest nemesis over the last few years, have been down in the last two games. Indiana had only 8 against Arkansas State after having 12 against South Florida. Sure, the competition has been down, but need we remind you about Indiana State?
- Collin Hartman appears about ready to return. Suddenly the IU front court combination of De’Ron Davis, Morgan and Hartman complemented by Justin Smith and Freddie McSwain seems solid. Of course if Davis gets in foul trouble, all bets are off.
Optimism is a funny thing though. And nothing can squash optimism more than a 5 game stretch like Duke, Michigan, Iowa, Louisville and Notre Dame. Conversely, performing at a high level in those games would serve as a notice that this Indiana team is the real deal. Until then, give thanks that we’ve moved on from Indiana State.
ARKANSAS STATE – THE TURNING POINT
Wednesday night’s game was interesting in the sense that Indiana had multiple runs involving key contributions from several players that stood out. To us, no one moment necessarily turned the game, but each of the following (along with sustained excellence by Morgan) were critical in winning the day for the Hoosiers:
- Josh Newkirk: Newkirk has been off to a quiet start this season but he had just the kind of game that the Hoosiers need from him on Wednesday. Particularly noteworthy was zero turnovers. Newkirk had an important run during the first half that gave Indiana their first separation of the game. At the 8:32 mark of the first half the game was tied at 18. Over the next minute and a half he made three buckets within the flow of the game and added an assist. 27-21 Indiana. Timeout.
- Devonte Green: As we noted in our report card, Green is a streaky player right now. Sometimes the hot streaks are game changing. From the 5:13 mark of the first half, with Indiana up by 4 to the 3:01 mark, Green made two 3-pointers and gave IU their first double digit lead of the game.
- De’Ron Davis: Davis was somewhat quiet during the first 30 minutes of the game. When Arkansas State cut the IU lead to 59-56 with 9 minutes left in the game, it appeared that Davis had seen enough. From there he contributed 6 points, 3 rebounds, a block, an assist and a steal. Although less tangible than those stats, it appeared that he had really amped up his energy level during this run to finally put away Arkansas State.