IU locks down on Butler in 68-60 win in Crossroads Classic

Butler was playing just its third game of the season Saturday due to COVID-19 cancelations, and the Bulldogs didn’t have their leading scorer, Aaron Thompson, because of a knee injury.

But those stacked odds didn’t seem to matter. The Hoosiers were down five points at half, and Indiana coach Archie Miller wouldn’t have much trouble explaining the cause postgame.

“It is what it is,” Miller said. “We were getting outworked.”

IU would need not only a shift in momentum, but a shift in mentality, to overcome the Bulldogs in the Crossroads Classic in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. The Hoosiers not only needed shot-making from Armaan Franklin in his most favored venue, but they needed the physicality of Race Thompson and Trayce Jackson-Davis on the low block defensively.

In the second half of a 68-60 win, the Hoosiers (5-2) got all that they needed, on both ends, inside and out.

“I thought Race really came in the second half, he was amped up and ready to go,” Jackson-Davis said. “Coach Miller told us at halftime, they weren’t here to mess around. We got back into it, and we started playing our ball.”

Jackson-Davis finished with 21 points, eight rebounds, and five blocks in Saturday’s win. All five of those blocks came in the second half. Thompson, battling alongside, also had one of IU’s seven second-half swats, helping the Hoosiers lock down on the Bulldogs in their final non-conference game.

Where the Hoosiers didn’t finish strong earlier this non-conference season in a loss at Florida State, this game was the opposite. Butler shot 14-of-26 in the first half, finding offense much too easy. During a 13-3 run to take a nine-point lead, the Bulldogs hit 6-of-7 from the floor.

But the Hoosiers, trailing 37-32 at half, definitely finished. First, at the end of the first half, with a couple of free throws from Jackson-Davis and a late bucket from Al Durham to cut the deficit to five. Then IU came out of the locker room with its collective hair on fire, forcing Butler into 17 misses on its first 20 shots.

IU’s blocks often led to easy runouts offensively, helping the Hoosiers to a 13-0 run and a 47-40 lead.

IU had just one block at halftime.

“It’s one of those things where you have to dig yourself out of it, and I thought we challenged ourselves,” Miller said. “I thought our guys were disappointed in the way we played, and in the second half we came out with a much better approach. Our attitude was much different.”

One thing remained a constant, though, and it’s that Franklin loves shooting in Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

The sophomore guard, who hit 4-of-5 from 3 in a win over Notre Dame in last year’s Crossroads Classic, matched that output in the first half against Butler. Franklin finished the day 5-of-7 from deep on his way to a career-high 20 points.

“I still don’t know why this gym is having these good shooting performances,” Franklin said. “But it’s just my teammates giving me open looks, and I saw the first one go down. For any shooter, it gives you a lot of confidence when that first shot goes down.”

IU just wasn’t able to do enough to prevent Butler (1-2) from getting the shots it wanted in the first half. The Bulldogs were aided by a 5-of-7 performance from beyond the arc in the first 20 minutes, but the Hoosiers’ failures were both inside and out. Miller said his team was “manhandled” in the post.

Along with a second-half turnaround for IU’s posts, their perimeter counterparts also helped put more pressure on the Butler backcourt. The Bulldogs were 4-of-12 from 3-point range in the second half, and they finished with a 39.3-percent shooting effort from the field Saturday.

“We just gotta limit their drives and have good gaps,” Franklin said. “I think on my end I kind of messed up a little bit guarding (Jair) Bolden, he was supposed to be dead-on-catch. But I made enough plays, got enough stops, for us to get the win.”

Bolden got 14 of his 20 points in the second half, but no other Butler player produced more than four points in the frame.

IU, on the other hand, didn’t just have 20-plus games from Jackson-Davis and Franklin. Thompson added 10 points and seven rebounds, while senior guard Al Durham chipped in 11 points, eight rebounds, and four assists.

Freshman guard Trey Galloway didn’t score a point, but he had a team-high five assists in the win.

“It’s been tough, because I think early on we’re playing some really high-level, intense games against good teams and we aren’t able to massage guys in and out,” Miller said. “But I’m here to tell ya, I don’t know how we’ll go through a Big Ten season without everybody being able to contribute every game.”

The Big Ten season begins Wednesday for the Hoosiers with a home contest versus Northwestern.

“All in all, we’re probably as battle-tested as probably any team in the league, as far as understanding what it’s going to take for us to be successful,” Miller said. “We have that information, we gotta keep getting better, we gotta keep getting more guys involved in the game.”

7 comments

  1. Good win, and I especially appreciate that it was a come-from-behind victory.

    It’s really tough for me to predict how this team will do in the Big Ten this season. But if Franklin can continue to shooting threes like he did today, it’s possible IU could finish in the top half of the conference.

  2. The “Top Half” of the B1G is not my aspiration. Top Four and Sweet Sixteen are my goals! Go IU!

  3. We need goals higher than Sweet Sixteen. With the way Thompson and Franklin have elevated their games, it’s not too lofty to think we can’t make for some higher goals.
    And if the recent backcourt transfer addition, Parker Stewart, is granted immediate eligibility, then chances get even stronger. A recovered and healthy Brunk in a month or so would also provide some inside muscle alongside TJD.

    But isn’t it wonderful to actually see Hoosier Basketball finally reclaiming the Indiana standard for defense and the IQ for the maple hardwood classroom back away from Butler? It finally looks like basketball again for those who don the candy stripes…Lord, did I miss it. It feels like we are finally in ‘class’ again. I hear the chalk …that comes with walking the walk. It’s real and removed of the pretense in simply saying “It’s Indiana.”
    We are, once again, playing like Indiana….and many born and bred Hoosier young men are leading the way. Hallelujah.

    1. ^^^ What he said ^^^

      Galloway is the prototypical IN player many of us have been longing for. Didn’t score a point yesterday & was one of the most impactful players on the floor.

      Franklin has improved immeasurably.

      TJD will be TJD good.

      Thompson & Brunk add spunk & girth that will be needed to battle the top tier big boys in this league.

      We have the makings of a “talent problem”. I cringe a little when the younger guys like Geronimo, Leal, & Lander aren’t seeing any floor time. But hey, it’s what raises the bar for a program. We will have to expect a couple of transfers each year, especially with the new eligibility rules. We just have to get more than we lose in return & it looks like we are!

  4. And Archie loses another highly coveted recruit, this time to Georgetown. I guess it’s an understatement to say Archie needs to do some deep thinking about his recruiting process and tactics, because he’s whiffing on top rated players way too often. While the sky may not be falling, there’s no hiding the fact that the class of 2021 is a clear indication that things are not pointed in the right direction.

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