Indiana was dominant in their regular season opening 98-65 victory against Western Illinois on Tuesday night.
Below are our three main takeaways from the game.
Durham, Smith and Phinisee Show Progress
In the first half, Justin Smith had 12 points on 6-10 shooting from the field, Al Durham had 15 points on 6-6 from the field including 3-3 from beyond the arc, and Rob Phinisee had 8 points on 3-6 shooting. They combined to score 35 of Indiana’s 46 points at the break.
Given that Smith, Durham, and Phinisee averaged 8.2 points, 8.3 points, and 6.8 points per game last season, respectively, their performances in the first 20 minutes of action was no small feat.
Indiana is going to need new scorers to step in and replace Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford, and this group seems particularly well suited to assume that role.
The scoring continued for the trio in the second half. Smith, Durham, and Phinisee finished the game with 24 points, 21 points, and 14 points, respectively. Durham actually finished a perfect 7-7 from the field (including 3-3 from long range) and 4-4 from the line.
The 24 points for Smith tied a career high, and he did it without forcing perimeter shots. Head coach Archie Miller was pleased with how Smith approached the game.
“I look at his numbers and his line, and I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t even notice that he scored 24 points,” Miller said. “I think at the end of the day, I was just watching how he approached things there in a certain point of time. Defensively he’s very, very active and made plays for us. So as we keep going here’s, he’s an important cog in our wheel. He’s got to stay with it and just keep getting better.”
Indiana took good shots offensively
If there were season opening jitters, Indiana didn’t show it on this night.
The Hoosiers shot the ball at a very good clip, finishing the game at 58.5 percent from the field, including 45.5 percent from the three-point line. A key in that latter number may have been the fact that IU only shot 11 three-pointers for the game.
Big men Trayce Jackson-Davis and Joey Brunk combined to go 9-12 from the field, while true freshman Armaan Franklin facilitated the offense to perfection with eight assists and no turnovers.
A fast paced offense seemed to create good shots along with defense to offense transition opportunities.
Miller has made transition offense a point of emphasis and he spoke about how front court depth played a role after the game.
“If you don’t have front depth you can’t run, It doesn’t matter what you say, Miller said. “But right now we have a stable of guys that I feel like if they’re in there they can put pressure on the rim. If you put pressure on the rim and your guards are doing a good job of advancing the ball and pushing it, I think that’s what your seeing right now is a team that’s trying to continue to push the pace. We’re getting a lot up the floor, which is a good sign, and that’s got to be a part of what we’re doing. We can’t play sort of trudging through the mud, we got to get going.”
Indiana scored 31 fast break points and 20 points off turnovers.
Indiana shows its depth
The Hoosiers were down a man with senior co-captain Devonte Green sidelined with a nagging hamstring injury.
Green is expected to be one of the leading scorers on the team, and when he returns, IU appears to have 11 guys that can legitimately play this year.
“I think everyone can tell that there’s not a guy that doesn’t belong out there,” Miller said. “So hopefully it continues to give us confidence and that what we’re doing is working and we can keep getting better.”
No one played more than 27 minutes, and nine Hoosiers ran between 14 and 27 minutes on the floor. Four players scored in double figures, with seven players attempting at least five shots. Six different players had at least four rebounds.
Miller noted after the game that Phinisee and Jerome Hunter were on minutes restrictions.
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