The Hoosiers moved to 2-0 on the season with a convincing 80-35 win over the Montana State Bobcats. The schedule will get more challenging next week with a home game against Marquette and a road contest at Arkansas, but on this night IU put forth a complete effort.
Friday night’s contest was dominated by IU for most of the game, with the Hoosiers holding a lead of 30 or more points for the last 18 minutes of the game. Several big runs in the first half and beginning of the second half put the game out of reach.
A seemingly untouchable record was threatened on the night. The 35 points allowed by IU was the fewest allowed in a game at Assembly Hall since allowing 29 to Notre Dame on Dec. 18, 1971. That game was one of the first ever in the arena and the Hoosiers held an official ceremony to open the building and name the court after former head coach Branch McCracken on that day.
It is hard to find fault in a game where you score in the 80s and hold your opponent in the 30s. Montana State isn’t a great team, but they are the best team that IU has faced to date. Archie Miller summarized the performance this way:
“Thought we had a good approach, and you know, thought just in challenging, some guys coming off of the Chicago State game in terms of, you know, our readiness and the leadership and just having everybody engaged was there tonight.
I’m sure there’s going to be a lot on film we’ll get better at, but we’re playing hard and we have to be ready to play the hardest we’ve ever played starting next week, and that will be a great test for us on Wednesday.”
Balance was once again the story with Indiana scoring the ball. The Hoosiers have yet to have a player go over 20 points, and had four players in double figures on the night. Miller said that they are trying to be an unselfish team, and the results would say that they are succeeding in that regard.
Indiana had 22 assists on 14 turnovers, which is respectable.
After the game, Miller indicated that “guys are starting to understand that if the way we move the ball and the way that we play, we can be hard to defend.”
Unfortunately, the usual suspects of 3-point shooting (28.6) and free throw shooting (52.6) continue to be a problem.
Was it Indiana or Montana State? When you hold a team to 25% from the field, 12% from long range, and threaten Assembly Hall scoring records, it is probably a little of both. But there is no denying that with numbers like that, IU was doing some good things. Miller said as much, indicating that “from a defensive perspective, the numbers would say it was good.”
But this is Montana State, not a Big Ten school. You can get away with mistakes against the Bobcats that you won’t against better teams. Miller indicated that while the on the ball defense was generally good, IU continues to make mistakes in transition. With bigger, stronger and faster opponents looming, it will be interesting to see how things translate.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (A) Morgan got IU going with 8 early points, and was a force on the glass with 11 rebounds in just 22 minutes of play. Miller referred to his play as “terrific.” Who are we to argue?
- Zach McRoberts* (N/A) Miller said this about McRoberts’ limited play — “He came up with some back tightness. He’s been dealing with that for a good three to four weeks. I don’t think he felt very good early in part of the game, and from that point forward, we just decided to rest him.”
- Justin Smith* (A-) It never ceases to amaze us how much Smith can score in volume. On this night it was 13 points in 17 minutes. He just always seems to be in the right place for the right opportunity. He was an efficient 6 for 8 from the field and added two blocks. Miller praised his defensive improvement.
- Romeo Langford* (B+) We are not going lie — the 3-point shooting is concerning. He didn’t come to IU with a reputation as a shooter, but if he continues to struggle that will give defenses an advantage in trying to guard him. All in all, another strong showing for the freshman sensation.
- Rob Phinisee* (A-) The freshman point guard was the lone bright side from three point range, going 3 of 4 on the night. He only had one assist, but just one turnover as well. We can’t wait to see how he performs next week.
- Evan Fitzner (A-) It’s clear that IU stole this kid. He plays clean, efficient basketball and always seems to be doing something positive on the floor. His scoring from inside the three point line is a pleasant surprise.
- Devonte Green (B) Green is still working his way back from an injury. Miller said this — “He’s fine. He’s doing a good job. He’s a little rusty. He has to pick up his decision-making. We talked a lot about it before practice today and before the game with him. It really comes down with a defensive mindset for him and to be in concentration mode.”
- De’Ron Davis (B+) Davis is still working his way back from a conditioning perspective, but he continues to flash the skills that can be valuable to this team in situations. In just 11 minutes, 8 points, 4 rebounds and 3 blocks is highly productive. The big question is on the defensive end, and how well his speed and athleticism can ultimately fit with what Miller is trying to do.
- Al Durham (B) Welcome back Al. He looked like a player working his way back from injury. Better now than vs. Marquette. Knocking down a late three may help build confidence.
- Damezi Anderson (B) Anderson continues to get good experience while Jerome Hunter recovers from injury. It sounds like Hunter will be out for a while, so the opportunities should continue. He’ll need to be better from long range to fully capitalize.
- Clifton Moore (A-) Five rebounds in five minutes is a great stat line. The kid is obviously working hard and he has clearly improved year over year.
- Also seeing the floor were Race Thompson, Jake Forrester, Johnny Jager, Quentin Taylor and Vijay Blackmon.
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