Playing without their starting point guard against one of the better defensive teams in the country seemed like a formula for a challenging night on Tuesday.
Instead, IU stayed perfect on the 2019-20 season and opened some eyes nationally with a convincing 80-64 win over No. 17/19 Florida State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
Indiana moved to 8-0 and is off to its best start since beginning the 2012-13 season with nine straight wins.
Speaking of streaks, the Hoosiers will open Big Ten play with a road trip to Wisconsin on Saturday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. ET. IU has not won a game at the Kohl Center in Madison, Wisconsin since 1998.
IU head coach Archie Miller expected a choppy start in this one, and he got it.
“Clearly, adrenaline plays a little bit of a role here. But after, I told those guys, first eight minutes you’re going to feel different,” Miller said after the game. “And the first four minutes it felt different. You couldn’t make a pass, you can’t do this. And you have to be able to just say, okay, keep going, play through it, find a way.”
After falling behind 11-4, the Hoosiers went on a 12-0 run and took their first lead of the game on a layup from freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis with 14:14 remaining in the first half. From there IU never relinquished the lead.
“I thought our guys did a really good job after those first four minutes of not, all right, we got the first one out of the way, now we can go back out here and keep going. Then from that point forward I thought we competed pretty well,” Miller said.
Coinciding with that early IU run was the entry into the game by senior guard Devonte Green. Later in the first half Green caught fire, hitting three straight 3-pointers over the course of a 10-2 IU run as the Hoosiers gained some separation.
The Seminoles kept coming, but this was a night of big IU runs.
After Florida State cut the lead to three with 8:17 left in the game, the Hoosiers went on a 13-2 run, capped off by a 3-pointer from sophomore forward Damezi Anderson that forced a timeout with 3:23 remaining.
Miller credited juniors Justin Smith and Al Durham for providing a calming presence against what was an unrelenting attack on both ends by FSU.
“It wasn’t pretty at all, but I will say this: I think if you play against Florida State and you watch them play, it’s not an easy game,” MIller said. “They overwhelm you with their consistency and how it never goes away. Like, there’s no possessions off.
Green’s fifth 3-pointer with 1:39 remaining gave the Hoosiers its largest lead of the game at 17 points. The lead never went under double digits over the last 4:08 of the game.
The win marked Miller’s sixth win against a ranked team while at IU. The victory also gives the Hoosiers three-straight wins against ranked opponents at home.
Indiana’s point total marked the most points allowed by the Florida State defense through nine games this season. That is significant, as the Seminoles came into the game No. 3 in the country in defensive efficiency, and they had held both Purdue and Tennessee to 60 points or less.
With FSU playing an aggressive and extended defense, nothing came easy.
“I thought we were able to at least find a way to function and get some shots, get the ball in the middle of the floor a little bit with them, Miller said.
“They switched every screen in the game. It wasn’t a whole lot of pretty, like, commotion. You had to literally rely on spacing and rely on your guys to make some plays. Devonte (Green) hit a couple key drives in big moments. We had some offensive rebounds again. And were able to get to the line 38 times.”
Indiana came into the game leading the nation in free throws made per game (21.0) and free throw attempts per game (29.0). The Hoosiers put up 38 and made 23 on Tuesday night. While the percentage wasn’t good at the line, the totals still translate into a strong amount of points per possession.
IU finished the game with 18 turnovers — their third straight game with at least 18. But the number was consistent with what FSU has been causing on the season, and the Hoosiers held things in check enough so as to not let their mistakes cost them the game.
Florida State shouldn’t be confused for an elite offensive team, but Indiana did enough to make things difficult.
Particulary impressive was IU’s play on the defensive end down the stretch.
“As the last eight minutes came down, that comes down to guys making plays and getting some stops and digging some balls out, some long rebounds,” Miller said. “And I thought our defense made enough plays there down the stretch to give us an opportunity.”
Playing without their best on the ball defender in Rob Phinisee, IU managed to stay in front of FSU in a game where Miller knew that would be necessary.
“Well, we knew it was going to come down to, in reality it’s a one-on-one game, Miller said.
“When it comes down to those guys, they have physical driving guards, physical wing players that they try to, for lack of a better term, they really try to get their shoulder down and get by you. And they did quite a bit. I thought we made some good 50/50 plays, maybe some blocked shots. We challenged some things.”
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score and specialty stats
- Archie Miller and IU players post-game
- FSU’s Hamilton sees top 25 / NCAA tourney team in IU
- Snapshot: Hoosiers move to 8-0
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Joey Brunk* (B) While there was nothing particular that stood out, these are the games where Brunk’s size becomes a huge asset as IU was more than able to hold their own against a big FSU squad.
- Justin Smith* (A-) Smith did a lot of things well including finishing at the rim, drawing fouls, and defending. Perhaps most of all as an upperclassman, he led.
- Trayce Jackson-Davis* (A-) How is Jackson-Davis going to fare against high major size? Just fine. The true freshman proved that he will be a force on both ends against top competition.
- Armaan Franklin* (A-) For Franklin to have just one turnover, playing out of position against that level of defense — was truly special. The true freshman competed at a high level in a very difficult game.
- Al Durham* (B) Like Smith, Miller indicated that Durham provided leadership. The junior was in a bit of shooting funk but still contributed with four assists.
- Devonte Green (A) This was the type of game that called for an individual to make plays and take over, and IU’s senior co-captain did just that with more than a point a minute. Green’s career high 30 points was just slightly tarnished by four second half turnovers, but Miller called him the best player on the floor, and who could argue with that.
- Jerome Hunter (B) Hunter had his share of struggles but still has the trust of the coaching staff as he continues to work his way back.
- Race Thompson (B) Brought nine minutes of the aggressive play that he is known for and was needed in a game like this.
- Damezi Anderson (A-) Anderson delivered with some very positive energy, especially on the defensive end. He confidently knocked down a second half three-pointer that was effectively the final dagger.
Notes: Senior De’Ron Davis also appeared briefly in the game. Sophomore point guard Rob Phinisee missed his third straight game. Miller indicated after the contest that Phinisee rolled his ankle at practice on Monday.
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