IU take-aways: Indiana 66, Ohio State 54

The sun just came out.

What a difference a game makes, right?

The droughts that plagued the Hoosiers versus No. 12 Maryland and Northwestern did not derail them in a win over No. 11 Ohio State. Thanks to an amped up defense, an initial offensive spark from Rob Phinisee, and a fantastic finish from Devonte Green, the outlook for IU’s season all of a sudden appeared so much less bleak.

The road through the Big Ten isn’t any less treacherous, though. As IU’s in-state rival, Purdue, just reinforced in a win over the last remaining undefeated team in conference, No. 8 Michigan State: everyone is beatable.

There will just be ups and downs to this season, it seems, and being the road team is especially hard. Away teams are 5-31 in Big Ten play thus far, and the Hoosiers head to the road to face Rutgers and Nebraska this week.

“We really don’t worry about the ranking of the team or who it is. This is a good league,” Green said. “Every team is going to be good, so we’ve just got to get as many wins as we can.”

The Hoosiers have maintained their home court advantage, though the OSU win was much more impressive than rail-thin victories over Nebraska and Northwestern.

There are key reasons why IU was a better version of itself Saturday. The Hoosiers just seemed to have more urgency and a greater level of energy about themselves. They were together, limiting mistakes on both ends of the floor.

IU still had one more turnover (11) than assists (10). But in two outings previous, the Hoosiers had 12 more turnovers than they had assists. That’s a big improvement, especially when IU was able to come away with 11 steals versus OSU.

Phinisee had four of those.

“Always comes down to your guards setting the tone, and Rob sets the tone for us,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “We had 11 steals and four blocks, 15 deflections on the stats sheet. That’s a great number. That’s an active defense.”

IU will go as far as its guards go.

As Miller pointed out, the backcourt was and will continue to be a critical driver for this team.

Phinisee, in his first start, came out and hit a trifecta of 3s in the first half, while Green came off the bench and provided the Hoosiers with instant scoring.

The question is whether that’s the formula going forward.

“I personally feel like it doesn’t matter if you start the game,” Miller said. “I know publicly, privately, and individually that stuff goes a long way, but as a coach I look for finishers, and when (Green) comes in the game, it’s a little different feeling coming off the bench, having a guy that can maybe be your most dynamic player.”

Starting appeared to suit Phinisee, who finished with 13 points in a season-high 29 minutes. Green was 5-of-8 from the field, scoring 19 of the Hoosiers’ 31 bench points.

It was Green’s best outing since a 30-point showing against then-No. 17 Florida State, when he also came off the bench.

“There’s nobody in that locker room that doesn’t doubt the necessity he is to our team,” Justin Smith said of Green. “He can do a lot of different things. He can score, pass, defend. … He’s a very, very important part to our team, and we need him in these big games, and he showed up.”

Phinsee more than showed his value, as well, but there was still concern about an abdominal issue he’s been dealing with. He appeared somewhat hobbled in the second half, checked on by trainer Tim Garl on the bench.

When the first part of a question about Phinisee was on his heroics, and the second part about his health, Miller replied, “You ruined the question.” The prospect of injuries hampering Phinisee is a buzzkill, but there is a hope he can continue to battle through an injury-plagued season.

“He’s a warrior, and he’s stuck with it through the hard times,” Smith said. “He was due for one of these games. He came out hot, and that really set the tone for the rest of the team going forward during the game.”

Hunter continues to progress.

Redshirt freshman Jerome Hunter didn’t light up the stat sheet with five points in nearly 19 minutes of play.

But for a player in his first full collegiate season, sidelined all of last year by a lower-leg condition, the fact that Miller could lean on the 6-foot-7 forward to eat up minutes in the second half versus OSU was a major development.

“Jerome Hunter played the best game of his college career,” Miller said. “Jerome impacted the game in a real positive way, in particular defensively. He’s big, he’s physical, he’s going to get more confident, get more rhythm.

“The guy has really had to teach himself how to play basketball again, but I thought his minutes were good.”

Hunter was billed as a scorer coming out of high school, which is something he could eventually become. But after so much time off, he still needs to find that part of his game.

For him to crack the Hoosiers’ rotation right now, he needs to give energy on the defensive end.

“He’s a true freshman, whether he wants to admit it or not. He didn’t take one rep in practice last year,” Miller said. “Then when you come off the bench and try to figure out how to impact the team, in his mind, it’s offense. You’ve got to get younger players and guys that are new to the game to understand you impact the game so much more defensively as a young guy.

“Because when you screw up on defense, you come out. You don’t have that rope.”

On Saturday, Hunter didn’t waste any of his rope. He kept himself on the floor.

What’s next?

Rutgers, 7 p.m. Wednesday, at Rutgers Athletic Center

The Scarlet Knights, like the Hoosiers, are one of eight Big Ten teams yet to lose at home. One of those wins was over then-No. 20 Penn State last week, 72-61.

Rutgers (12-4, 3-2) is particularly strong on the defensive end, second only to Ohio State in the Big Ten for field goal percentage defense at 36.7 percent (10th nationally).

Geo Baker, the Scarlet Knights’ star guard, is currently sidelined with a broken thumb. Ron Harper Jr., a 6-foot-6 sophomore, leads Rutgers at 12.2 points per game.

18 comments

  1. I’m still baffled by why something is called a “lower leg condition”….?
    DJ White had multiple foot injuries…Creek had two knee cap injuries…Hartman had knee injuries…Blackmon had knee injuries…Elston had a stomach injury/stomach muscle tear.
    This is the first I’ve known a big ‘hit’ after being in a ‘condition’ since Kenny Rogers. Hopefully, this is the ‘first edition’ of many future editions of seeing a healthy Jerome contribute to this ever-evolving Hoosier team.

    Come to think of it (or thinkaboutit), our entire Hoosier team presents a mystery of sorts of what ‘condition their condition is in.’

    This team isn’t bipolar, it’s psychedelic, baby. Devonte might just be the coolest psychedelic of all…Sometimes he’s so ‘far out’ that ‘he’s out of \sight.’ ‘Groovy’ DeRon is next. And if he ain’t groovin’, he’s slammin’. DeRest can be just as psychedelic ‘4-sho’.
    There’s no such thing as an 8-minute scoring drought! It’s all bitchen, cats. We’re just in a lower output ‘condition’ but it will be another ‘condition’ soon. You can dig it…or you can dig out of it, funky child. It’s swirling candy stripes land and I’m trippin’ on this team…It’s Archie bringin’ back the ’70s…It’s our PSYCHEDELIC HOOSIERS. Bipolar is so lightweight yesterday.
    It’s just a condition my Hoosiers’ condition is in.

  2. H4H..”lower leg condition” is USUALLY restricted to medical conditions; Much like Chris Bosh at Orlando with his blood clot condition that eventually caused his early retirement. Not saying that is the problem but injury is an injury and condition is usually medical. As far as team performance going forward; I think Archie’s “tempered frustration” got the attention of the team.. as he told Devonte “You cant practice soft and then play hard” and THAT is the “toxic attitude Archie was talking about.

    1. Archie waited too long to do the toxic cleanse….I guess better late than never. I’m just wondering if the hardline will continue. Here’s to hoping. Dysfunctional ‘syndromes’ or perceptions of playing time entitlement based on upperclassman status, etc. need to be purged permanently.

      We may just have to live with dealing with ‘Psychedelic Hoosiers’ of varying ‘conditions’ in focus and groovy behavior until Archie has a team completely assembled of his own recruits. I’m sort of apprehensive in my optimism because certain guys having good nights may immediately think they’ve ‘got their groove on’ again.

      We’ll probably know quickly what ‘condition’ we’re in at Rutgers.

  3. Come to think of it, Brunk isn’t Elvis….He’s more like Kenny Rogers meets our Butler ‘First Edition.’

    FUN FACTS:

    Feb 12, 2019 @ MSU (6) W79-75
    Mar. 1, 2016 @ Iowa (16) W 81-78
    Feb 19, 2013 @ MSU (4) W 72-68
    Mar 10, 2013 @ Michigan (7) W 72-71
    Jan 13, 2002 @ Iowa (13) W 77-66
    Dec 5, 2000 @ Notre Dame (10) W 86-78

    Above is a list of Hoosier road wins against a top-20 team…over the last 20 YEARS. Yes, that’s SIX total road wins against a top-20 over the last two decades. I thought it was a rather stunning short list: 2 @ MSU, 2 @ Iowa, 1 @ Michigan, 1 @ ND.

  4. Maybe winning on the road against a top-20 is a simple indicator of having a realistic chance at a banner?
    I haven’t done the research for the Knight years…I wonder if we had road wins against top-20 teams in his Final Four and banner seasons?

    And I’m not talking about neutral site wins…I’m talking true road games in the hostile environment of a top-20 in their arena.

    1. IU beat Michigan 3 times including NCAA final game in Knights first championship with one of those regular season games being a burn burner at assembly all OT win. Michigan tallest player 6’8” I think. Coach Johnny Orr.

  5. Knight’s team had at least 3 in the Big Ten in ‘92-‘93, I looked it up. The year after nine in the Big Ten including a 50 pt loss @ MN 106-56. That team still won 3 NCAA tournament games.

  6. Yes, and the two most noteworthy were with Zeller. Without Zeller he has one top-20 road win in almost a decade.

    And for those who thought Knight was fading in his last decade…?

    Jan 16, 1999 @ Purdue (13) W 87-76
    Feb 16, 1997 @ Michigan (14) W 84-81
    Jan 12, 1993 @ Michigan (2) W 76-75
    Jan 19, 1993 @ Purdue (13) W 83-79
    Feb 6, 1993 @ Iowa (9) W 73-66
    Feb 23, 1992 @ Ohio St. (6) W 86-80
    Dec 21, 1991 @ St. Johns (10) W 82-77
    Jan 23,1989 @ Michigan (6) W 71-70

    (to be cont.)

    Knight’s Hoosiers had as many top-20 road wins in his last 7 seasons than the Hoosiers would get in the next 20 years.

    20 YEARS = 2000-2020 (Davis, Sampson, Crean, Miller): 6 road wins against top-20
    10 YEARS = 1989-1999 (Knight’s “Down” years): 8 road wins against top-20

    In doing the above research, I also started to see some stunning numbers in SOS comparisons…I was amazed how high our SOS rankings even in Knight’s so-called fading seasons. I’m now curious to just how much it’s fallen off post Knight era.

  7. Though not specifics sometimes though often are remembered

    Research is not needed to remember the IU basketball era with Bob Knight and his teams

    That’s what made it so great an era that those who witnessed it remember all those fun times when Indiana pride was identified by this yesteryear

    And has never been the same that a different basketball life is experienced by those that have lived this experience in the 21st century and not a lot to remember

    Hail to the Chief Bob Knight and thanks for the memories of this IU basketball era

    And Hail to the Chief Branch McCracken and thanks for the memories of this IU basketball era

    And Bob Knight talking about Everett Dean, Henry Iba, Clair Bee among many others including Fred Taylor and Ted Williams

    No it’s not the same

    That was a fun, entertaining, interesting, great basketball era and history as well.

  8. More research to come….

    And it’s not intended to glorify the career of Bob Knight. It’s intended to remind how we must never forget the standard. It’s the same standard you, t, are now claiming to be employed by Teri Moren as you frequent the men’s basketball threads with reminders of that standard.
    It’s a standard to challenge teams, schedule stronger, coach equitably and earn playing time.
    It’s a challenge to not falsely elevate results based on changing degrees and definitions of “elite.” Elite doesn’t come on the heels of slogans and DVD’s…or simply stating “It’s Indiana.”
    The STANDARD is the recognition of players who earned the honor to don the candy stripes because they knew nothing else but to be challenged to the greatest degree possible at this game and at this level.

    We must forever hold Men’s and Women’s coaches to the STANDARD. Until we get back to humble origins and realizing greatness isn’t a simple measure of what is accomplish on a home turf/court advantage added to a slew of soft teams to open a season(with little challenge from programs which could offer true test and preparation for quests to be the best), we need reminders of the differences in STANDARDS wrought in philosophies and fearlessness inherent in the origins of the cloth hanging above McCracken.
    I also love the memories, t. But I know we can have those memories reborn in new moments and new achievements if we refuse to allow ourselves to be bamboozled by the marketing of a name rather than the earning of a name.

    Lastly, the research was for a bit of my own fun. I found myself sort of shocked to just how far we’ve dropped in winning against strong teams in hostile environments. I also feel the wins on the road against top-20 teams serves as a pretty simple indicator of the strong shoulders of a team and how we proceed forward as a program; a check on reality, if you will, to hold marketing in check versus such reality.

  9. H. I understand it is fun to research. The reason for some of my IU basketball comments is that I do realize what it was (even in last few Knight years…because he was putting together another very good team that Davis took over and yes players and Davis held it together well compared to what it is (21st century) requires 0 research for me. I just feel it, though feelings have become numb regarding 21st century.
    I am able to get behind and support IU Ladies because T. Moren does employ some Knight characteristics in way players play, not all are able to play for T.Moren especially the first few years as she elevated program, players on team and coaches are close/family, T.Moren has made excellent effort to increased strength of schedule (preseason as team develops). T. Moren is excellent creative recruiter to get players.
    I suggest reading the Mac Holmes from Maine story on IU Ladies basketball thread. It sounds exactly like an Indiana traditional Indiana backwoods basketball story only located in Maine.

  10. Respect all of your opinions, t. I’ll check out the article.

    And here’s to hoping Archie isn’t more of the same….Though one really never has any clue to inside workings of a person, Archie appears to be very genuine. I was able to catch a bit if his most recent coach’s show with Don Fischer and there are glimpses into his deeper character and approach below the surface of his comments. I like what I see in those glimpses. I like the way he referred the teams just before Crean as “Kelvin’s teams”….He talked of being an assistant at OSU and talked of the challenges to play and prepare a talented “Kelvin team.” Don Fischer moved on quickly…likely due to the fact he’s so used to a different narrative when many talk of those years.
    It told me something about Archie Miller. He looks at things through a much broader perspective of decency and honesty….IMHO.

    Bottom Line: Give this Archie guy a bit of time. I think he’s well grounded…I find him quite refreshing after years of so much drama, villain targeting, highfalutin attitudes, overkill, reunions and the exhaustive marketing/hype over relatively low bars of achievements (compared to the March Madness results of all the Midwest over the last decade and, most importantly, a STANDARD in meaningful results understood by astute fans like yourself).

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