The first 28 minutes of Indiana’s Sunday night tussle with South Florida had a familiar feel to it. Was it another one of those “grind it out” games that we’ve become accustomed to when playing Penn State and Pat Chambers? That would make sense because South Florida has two former Penn State players on its roster (Payton Banks and Terrence Samuel). Or did South Florida watch the Indiana State film and try to follow that script? They certainly couldn’t get Indiana State’s separation from the Hoosiers, but they did play an aggressive style on both ends that seemed to resemble the Sycamores’ approach.
Whatever it was, it didn’t last. A lot of variables came together in the last 12 minutes to allow the Hoosiers to finally pull away, including South Florida going cold from the field, Indiana playing with more defensive intensity, and Indiana’s veteran leaders making big plays. It all led to a 70-53 Hoosier win as they improved to 2-2 on the season.
Overall- B We’re inflating the grade here. The game was uncomfortably close for too long. But once again we are encouraged. And optimism leads to inflated grades. Even more encouraging was that Collin Hartman was dressed. It would be great if he could get a couple games in before Duke.
Coaching – B Similar to the overall grade, we are inflating but we continue to see signs of a coach getting through to his new team. It isn’t coming in the form of complete games yet, and that might take a while, but there were segments of improvements in key areas including defensive intensity and reduced turnovers. Coach Archie Miller got a technical foul in the first half. We only mention that here because it illustrated how invested he is in every detail.
Offense – B After a pretty ugly first half, with 9 turnovers and struggles with a changing defense, the Hoosiers turned a corner in the second half. IU only committed 3 turnovers in the second half which was by far their best half of the season. The Hoosiers continue to struggle from the 3-point line, going 5-17. Free throw shooting was better than it has been.
Defense – B Similar to the overall theme for the game — it was a tale of two halves. In the first half IU was still giving up 3s, and it gave up a lot of second chance points. All that changed in the second half, and South Florida only ended up shooting 34% from the field and 29% on 3-pointers. Indiana cleaned up its rebounding issues in the 2nd half as well, and forced 17 turnovers for the game.
- Curtis Jones – C+ The mystery continues. 1-4 from the field including an air-ball in 17 minutes. We did notice a higher energy level and he made a couple good hustle plays.
- Al Durham, Jr. – A- Played 31 minutes and had 4 assists and no turnovers. He has really taken over the point guard minutes for now. Durham had a couple impressive moments finishing with his right hand. He had an off night on his 3 point shot, going 0-3.
- Josh Newkirk – B- Left the game in the first half with an injury but came back. Overall a quiet night on only 10 minutes, but did have 3 assists. 0-2 from the 3-point line.
- Justin Smith – A- After a quiet first half, Smith had a really good second half attacking the rim, playing defense and getting rebounds. Ended up with 5 rebounds and a block and continues to flash major potential.
- Robert Johnson- A It feels so good to give RJ an A. It should probably be an A- because of 3 turnovers, but we don’t care. This was a breakout game. 36 minutes, 9-14 from the field including 3-3 on 3-pointers, 4 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks. But perhaps most important, he looked confident.
- Devonte Green – C+ Quiet night shooting the ball and he had 4 turnovers. He was however bringing a lot of energy on defense was on the floor when IU started gaining separation. He had a really nice assist to Davis which led to a 10 point lead.
- Juwan Morgan – A Another A that we are excited about. 15 points, 10 rebounds, 4 blocks. More than any of that was the energy he brought. Morgan was the key to run the Hoosiers went on to put the game away, which included a defensive effort to prevent an alley-oop that might have broken IU’s momentum. Morgan was everywhere doing everything. This was perhaps the best game of his IU career.
- De’Ron Davis – B Continues to struggle with fouls which caused IU to play Morgan and McSwain at center. That is a recipe for disaster against some teams. Continues to get fouls called on him that are suspect. When he was on the floor he was pretty good, especially in the second half.
- Freddie McSwain, Jr. – C+ Only 1 rebound in 9 minutes. Rebounding and defense are his keys to seeing the floor.
- Clifton Moore – B Moore also got playing time due to the Davis foul issues. Still needs to develop but this is good experience for him. It appeared that South Florida was trying to attack him in the post when he was on defense.
[Photo credit – Getty Images]