Non-conference home schedule, we barely knew you.
After nine non-Big Ten home games in 2019-20, this is it. The second and final non-conference game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall tips off Sunday afternoon.
And the opponent is familiar.
For the second season in a row, the Hoosiers will welcome the North Alabama Lions to Bloomington. IU beat North Alabama 91-65 a year ago.
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
North Alabama (2-1) at Indiana (3-2)
- Tip time: Noon ET
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Ind.
- Television: Big Ten Network (Chris Vosters and Brian Butch)
- IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, Joe Smith)
- Series: Indiana leads 1-0 (Indiana won last meeting 91-65 in 2019)
- Point Spread: Indiana is a 24.5-point favorite
- KenPom has No. 21 Indiana by 22 points over No. 257 North Alabama
MEET NORTH ALABAMA
UNA opens the 2020-21 season as a third-year member of the ASUN Conference. After transitioning to the NCAA Division I level, the Lions hired Tony Pujol to lead the men’s basketball program. He posted a 10-22 record in his debut season before going 13-17 last year. North Alabama was picked to finish sixth in the league’s annual preseason coaches poll this year.
Prior to transitioning to Division I, North Alabama won NCAA Division II national titles in 1979 and 1991.
In the 2019-20 meeting IU held UNA without a field goal for more than five minutes in the second half while Indiana stretched a nine-point lead to 20 in route to a 91-65 home win. IU led by just seven, 47-40 at the half, and just 54-45 at the 15:46 mark when the Hoosiers made their move. A dunk by Trayce Jackson-Davis started the 11-0 run that stretched the home team’s lead to 65-45 midway through the second half.
The Lions have no one in their rotation over 6-foot-7. They take a lot of three-pointers, but they made just 18.5 percent from long range in their last outing.
UNA has early wins over non-Division I opponents Oakwood and Carver. They lost to Troy earlier in the week, 62-57.
ARCHIE MILLER JUST HAPPY TO HAVE THIS GAME ON THE SCHEDULE
The pandemic caused a scheduling nightmare for college basketball programs around the country.
Original schedules were scrapped and a last second push to find available opponents commenced this fall.
That is how Indiana is facing North Alabama for a second straight season.
“I just thank North Alabama, that game didn’t exist (on the original schedule),” Indiana head coach Archie Miller said on his radio show earlier this week. “They were available, and we called them and they jumped on it right away and said ‘you don’t have to worry about anything with the testing protocols, we are testing down here and we’ll get in the bus and drive up and play you. We’d love to come back. It was a great experience for our guys.'”
Indiana has the upcoming week off for finals, and Miller didn’t want to have nine days off between Florida State and the Hoosiers’ next game at the Crossroads Classic against Butler.
After four straight games against high major competition away from home, North Alabama no doubt represents a welcomed opportunity to make progress and gain confidence.
But after a late start and reduced number of games, the Miller really just wants to see his team face another opponent.
“I think right now we’re ready to play the games,” Miller said. “I think every team in college basketball right now is almost in slow motion and you want to keep it going. You want to keep your momentum going. You want to play.
“For us, I think in a normal setting, you are looking for home games in the month of December, and that’s not the case this year. It is one of those things where we are going to spend the entire month before we get to conference play, playing good teams on the road. It is a unique year in that, but I think in general people want to get to the games right now. They are almost anxious and nervous to play them. You want to play them, and coaches need the games to help their players rather than practicing another four or five times.”
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