IU downs No. 21 Iowa, 89-77

During a pause in the action, the thumb and index finger on Devonte Green’s right hand circled around one eye, as he stared at faces in the crowd.

There was an understated grin on Green’s face, as the three fingers he held up said everything.

Three. Threes all day.

The senior guard’s reign of 3-point supremacy was everything the Hoosiers wanted Thursday in a game they badly needed, fueling a 89-77 win over No. 21 Iowa at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“It’s just a good feeling when you see one and two and three and four go in, it’s like, ‘I’m going to shoot it again,'” Green said. “I’m going to shoot it until I miss it. And then I’m going to shoot it again. So that’s basically what it feels like.”

Green’s 18 first-half points off the bench — the product of five 3s and another trio of free throws — broke open IU’s offense and, more importantly, helped break a four-game losing streak in conference play. Suddenly on a high, the Hoosiers (16-8, 6-7 Big Ten) are heading on the road for four of their next five contests, beginning at Michigan on Sunday. 

The spark from IU’s mercurial sharpshooter, who finished with a team-high 27 points, came just at the right time. IU had missed four of its first six shots, looking as sluggish as ever. But when Green emerged just over four minutes into the game, it was the beginning of a stretch where the Hoosiers hit seven shots in a row.

Green had four of those makes, all 3s. Jerome Hunter hit another trifecta, boosting the Hoosiers to an early 25-16 lead.

“We really needed it. Our team needs some kind of confidence boost in big games, and when he’s played well, we’ve played well,” Miller said. “We gotta bottle it and figure out a way to keep him rolling, not to get 27 every night, but … can we get two, three, four games in a row, where we have a guy playing outstanding basketball? Tonight, he’s one of the best players in the country. You look back on some games and you are like ‘Where was he?’

“He’s just got to stay with it, the focus. Sometimes, hopefully, light at the end of the tunnel, coming down the homestretch here of his career, hopefully he sees the silver lining that my team needs me, I need to be ready to go every day.”

Iowa’s star center, Luka Garza, had 21 first-half points of his own, but he was the only one keeping the visitors afloat. Aside from his 8-of-14 effort from the floor, the rest of the Hawkeyes were 4-of-14.

Garza finished with a game-high 38 points and eight rebounds. But it didn’t matter.

When the 3s began to rain in from Green, IU’s offense — once stagnant and dysfunctional — found points aplenty. De’Ron Davis hit a 16-foot jumper before throwing a deft pass to Race Thompson in the post. Trayce Jackson-Davis posted up for a hard, two-handed slam. At the end of the first half, Al Durham sank a 3 of his own to send the Hoosiers into the locker room up, 49-34.

Jackson-Davis finished with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Rob Phinisee, with 12, and Race Thompson, with 10, also finished in double figures for the Hoosiers. IU hit 11 3-pointers, including seven from Green.

“When he hits one and two and you have to find a way to get him flares, just any of those ways,” Jackson-Davis said. “You just gotta get him the ball because he’s hot. He can touch it. It can go in anytime he touches it.”

As the Hoosiers’ confidence swelled, a less-than-sellout crowd roared at a volume many times its size. It was a rapid change in circumstance for a team that had appeared rudderless in recent weeks, shrinking in almost unbelievable ways.

Built to battle in the post, the Hoosiers had been out-rebounded in two straight contests. They won the boards, 39-28, over the Hawkeyes.

Focused on getting to the free throw line, IU averaged just 13 attempts in its previous four games. In this one, the Hoosiers converted 22-of-32 from the charity stripe.

And turnovers, a malady that’s found this team at one inopportune stretch or another, robbing all momentum, weren’t as much of a factor. IU had just one turnover in the first 13 minutes. The Hoosiers finished with 17 turnovers, including 11 in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to flame their lead.

“Proud of our guys. You take on water, it gets negative,” Miller said. “Not only does it get negative, it also makes you go into a shell and makes you want to not be with your guys, not want to practice, makes you not want to listen to the coach. Sometimes you just need a shot in the arm, every once in a while, to relieve some of that pressure, that it’s OK.

“So, hopefully, that was our night tonight, and we can get back to business here of playing better.”

IU’s advantage shrunk from as many as 20 points — 60-40, IU, with 15:52 remaining — to just 10 points with 6:21 left. But there were just enough shots to be found, including a runner by Phinisee, with the shot clock running down, that bounced off the rim multiple times and in to make it 70-58 with 5:51 remaining. 

Iowa (17-8, 8-6) was the latest victim at Assembly Hall. Before this four-game losing streak, the Hoosiers had home wins over three ranked teams this season. Add a fourth to the list.

IU’s NCAA tournament resume got a boost Thursday. So, too, did the Hoosiers’ spirits.

Down the stretch, late in the shot clock on another possession, Green launched his final 3-point make. After it sank through, giving the Hoosiers a 74-60 edge, the senior motioned to the bench with his right hand, telling them to get on their feet.

And they did.

“We knew we had to bounce back, we had to get through the slump. And all it takes is one win to get that feel good back in your system in the locker room,” Green said. “We knew it was a tough opponent coming up and we knew it was going to be tough to beat them. I think that gave us some sense of urgency.”

18 comments

  1. Jon, who was the reporter who asked Green ‘where does he go when things aren’t going right?’

    Talk about putting the kid on the spot! Wow! His answer explains a lot btw. He legitimately doesn’t know!

    1. AZ,
      That was Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star. I thought Archie probably answered that question better later, that in short it’s a function of his headspace and confidence.

  2. Gregg is a struggle for me. His early career was all about the Skip Bayless antagonism. I don’t know what happened to him at CBS, but when he came over to the Indystar, he seemed humbled. Even wrote a stunningly beautiful and vulnerable article about depression.

    But man, does he have a stinger. I don’t thing was deliberately trying to come across the way he did, but I thought the question to Green was out of line. He isn’t an NBA player being paid millions. He’s still a kid. He could have approached the question in a way that I think a person who is covering college athletes should.

    Devonte had a really nice game tonight. He played really well. Let him enjoy the night.

    Devonte lit it up tonight because of what we were talking about after the Purdue game. When our guards try to dribble and then shoot, they are horrendous. They actually shoot quiet well in catch a shoot situations. That’s exactly how Devonte scored his points tonight (but for that one shot where he was right near the out of bounds line, wheeled around after two dribbles and shot it).

  3. The offense played to it’s strengths tonight. The scoring lanes opened and the ball movement with much crisper when they didn’t have the 2 big lineup in.

    On to something more petty and less substantive: I can’t stand this Iowa team. I think a lot of Garza. He’s pretty awesome. Very impressed with him. But the rest of that team is a bunch of slackjawed, flopping, chirping, a-holes. They were cheapshotting all night long. Glad no one got hurt. I’ll enjoy rooting against Fran the rest of the B1G season and into the tournament.

  4. Doyle’s Q about consistency was legit and appropriate. No way that subject hasn’t been broached before. Green has heard it from Coach Miller for near 3 seasons and he still hasn’t figured it out. So history will repeat itself and he’ll very likely disappear in the next game. He makes scoring all about himself instead of it being a function of teamwork. His brand is being inconsistent and unreliable. Kinda what Coach Miller was saying after the game that it is totally on DG to turn that trait around now cause he can’t wait 3 weeks to do it. Maybe he still can.

  5. Seeing all the players so happy and crowding around Green after he carried them early was heartening. They are coming together and were truly joyous. This was evident later in the game when Jerome Hunter decided to trash-talk a former walk-on, and then point his finger in the Iowa Coach’s son’s face. Yes, it earned a technical, but it was worth it because it shows that this team is developing a personality and all are buying in. It’s fun to watch them and their Coach acting so happy.

    The only question mark is whether this show can be taken on the road and win.

    Go Hoosiers!

  6. Asking about inconsistency is legit, the manner in which it was asked was inappropriate and unprofessional. He wasn’t adding insight, he was trying to embarrass the kid.

    It was a stupid question. Does anyone think Devonte is having bad games on purpose? If he knew the answer to that question, he wouldn’t have issues with being consistent. I bet no one that covers IU basketball is shocked that Doyle was the one who asked it.

    1. Well, I didn’t know what all the fuss was about…based on AWinAZ’s explanation of Doyel’s question…and Jeremy’s follow-up (where Jeremy didn’t seem to enter into any editorial of the appropriateness of Doyel’s question/behavior)…I don’t generally watch player postgame interviews, but because of the “fuss,” I decided to go find it…

      The entire interview can be found on the official IU Athletics website…

      Now to my opinion…DoubleDown is absolutely correct. Doyel’s attitude was beyond terrible. What a complete a-hole.
      I have had my critical moments when on the subject of Green, but I gotta say he handled that just about as well as possible(considering the “in-your-face” rudeness and manner the dig from a so-called professional was aimed like a mud pie in a gotcha moment).
      Indianapolis Star should strip Doyel of his privileges to interview the Indiana Hoosiers…He also owes Devonte and Indiana a formal apology. Doyel crossed an obvious line….If that happens anywhere outside the formalities of a locker room or presser, Doyel likely walks away with a bloodied nose. You don’t treat people that way without repercussions and you certainly don’t disrespect any young man giving his time to you after a hard played game …

      There is no amount of inconsistency from any Hoosier that should cause someone given access to a live interview such a license to be a complete idiot. Indy Star needs to demand such a fool to make a full apology for being such an unprofessional jerk.

  7. The more things change the more they stay the same. Game brings back a brief memory of Iowa vs Indiana around 1965 when George Peoples/Iowa was jaw jacking with one of the VanArsdale twins. Only this time IU won.

  8. If DG could consistently play this way it changes the equation considerably. I have been advocating that IUBB would rise and fall on whether or not JH could return to form. This was based a great deal upon DG’s very inconsistent play. If DG can continue to play the rest of his IU career in this manner, the need for JH to be able to step up this year, as last year, is not nearly as great. However, what would really be fun is if DG could continue in this manner and JH be able to get back to form the rest of this season.

    One other very welcome development is the continued progress of RT despite his own health battles. I still say at some point we will all shed tears over what could have been if CAM’s first full fledged recruiting class had not been devastated by catastrophic health woes.

  9. Please everyone- it was a great win but let’s not get too excited. IU goes on the road now so let’s see what happens next. They will have to be super focused to bring home a few wins on the road!

  10. Where has that offense been hiding? It’s funny how we criticize Green for being so selfish and making stupid plays so often (and those criticisms are justified), but then he plays like he did last night and wins the game for IU. If Green does not play last night, IU loses the game. He’s had such performances before, but then, as someone suggested above, he’ll disappear in the very next game. I don’t believe there is anyone else on this team who can get hot from 3-point range and score like Green did last night. As Archie suggested earlier this year, this team will succeed or fail based on how well Green plays. And that’s a very frustrating fact for most of us.

    I have a theory on why Green played so well last night and why he is so inconsistent from game to game. His older brother was in attendance last night! Green had to have been pumped up about that. Green probably idolizes his older brother. Maybe he measures himself against his older brother. And maybe that level of performance/ability is just to far beyond Green reach. And maybe, in trying to match his brother, he puts too much pressure on himself, which leads to some terrible performances. We’ve all seen him when he’s trying to force things, as if Green sometimes gets caught between playing the way Archie wants/needs, and the style that he sees when he watches his brother play in NBA games. He’s torn; when he lets the game come to him he produces performances like last night. But when he tries to force it, he produces a disaster.

    1. I think we’re overlooking what a fabulous game Trayce Jackson-Davis had….Most active I’ve seen him. Very engaged and certainly not playing like a freshman. The remaining season will hinge, not on Green’s shots falling or bricking, but on Trayce bringing that sort of energy and focus going forward…and, hopefully, into the Big Dance.

      Really liking Race Thompson’s effort as well.

      Hope this same effort and focus gets taken on the road. Shot making comes…and, unfortunately, sometimes goes south. But it’s the energy and desire that can make this final stretch worth some memorable moments.

  11. When the shots are falling, the game is easy and a team’s warts are camouflaged. When the shots don’t fall, no matter how good a team plays defense, the game becomes almost impossible. Last night, the shots were falling. It’s as simple as that. Archie must recruit kids who are good shooters and kids who simply find ways to score. I believe it is much easier to teach a great shooter how to play defense than it is to teach a kid who plays good defense how to shoot.

  12. Mentioned this at the end of the Purdue game: the 2 Big line-up with Brunk and TJD isn’t working. So they both started the game and Indiana got off to another sluggish start. Brunk game out, Green came in and everything shifted.

    Green wasn’t selfish for the most part last night. Almost all of his shots were catch and shoot opportunities that the offense opened up. Also mentioned this after the Purdue game. We don’t shoot well off the dribble. We DO shoot well off catch and shoot opportunities. Hopefully Green saw that, and Archie ditches the line-up with Brunk and TJD. There’s a combination of Green understanding how lethal he can be in the context of the offense, and Archie playing the right guys together.

    There’s an interesting development happening, in that RT is getting better, and you want TJD on the floor longer. Brunk is the one who is going to lose those minutes. I’d say we have a “good problem.” Big guys with fresh legs heading into the home stretch of the season.

    The rest of the season is going to be interesting.

  13. Don’t know if I’d put too many pine bench splinters into Brunk’s butt quite yet…

    Nobody saw McGary busting onto the March Madness scene…Not saying Brunk is anywhere near McGary’s abilty, but March has a way of separating showboats from guys who get it done in the clutch. I don’t think Brunk is going to disappoint when he is truly called upon ….More benching may be coming in the immediacy which will add to the intrigue.

  14. Oh by the way, this IU team had 17 turnovers last night and we were still bad shooting free throws. But when making over 50% of your three point shots wins you the game, no one cares about the bad aspects of the team’s performance.

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