IU takes care of North Alabama, 87-52

In these opening years of Archie Miller’s tenure at Indiana, outside shooting has not been the Hoosiers’ strength.

But as IU passed the ball inside-out at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, and from the top of the key to the wing, North Alabama’s zone was leaving large swaths of hardwood uncovered.

In the second half of an 87-52 win Sunday, the Hoosiers went bombs away from 3-point land. They hit 9-of-20 from beyond the arc in the final 20 minutes. They shot 33 balls from 3 on the afternoon – seven above their high in a game last season – and ended up burying 13.

“As long as the shot’s in rhythm, as long as the shot is something we talk about being a good one,” Miller said. “Take ‘em.”

It took a moment for IU’s long-range assault to get underway because the Hoosiers (4-2) were careless with the ball for stretches of the first half. Of their 18 turnovers, 11 came in the first 20 minutes.

But just before IU went to the locker room, its outside shooters starting firing with good aim. Three of the Hoosiers‘ last five 3s dropped in to help build a 40-24 halftime cushion.

Sophomore guard Armaan Franklin, who hit one of those 3s, hit all four of his 3-point attempts in the second half on his way to 19 points on a 5-of-7 effort from deep.

“I think it was just open looks, getting a rhythm, stepping into it with confidence,” Franklin said. “I think that’s any basketball player. You see one go in, it gets you going.”

Whether the Hoosiers can keep 3s falling at this rate remains to be seen, but it was a welcome sign as the non-conference season unwinds. There is only one more game versus a non-Big Ten opponent coming, Butler in the Crossroads Classic this coming Saturday. Then it’s into the grinder.

Miller let out an “ugh” when he was reminded of that fact.

“I don’t think any team feels like they’re where need to be, it just feels like the season has been so different,” Miller said. “But the great thing about our schedule, whether you like it or not, we’ve played really good teams. It’s given us a reality check of what we have to do to get better.”

Defensively, the Hoosiers have been sound, and that continued Sunday versus North Alabama. The Lions (2-2) hit just 33 percent from the field, including 4-of-23 from beyond the arc.

IU, on the other hand, was just 4-of-13 from 3-point range in the first half, even with late makes by Franklin, Al Durham, and Trey Galloway. But in the next 20 minutes, Franklin and Co. really heated up.

Franklin and Rob Phinisee each hit a pair of 3s early in the second half, helping build a 56-34 bloat with 12 minutes remaining. Franklin’s 3s came during a stretch where the Hoosiers hit 11-of-13 shots, including one 3 apiece from freshmen guards Khristian Lander and Anthony Leal.

IU forward Trayce Jackson-Davis finished with 15 points and seven rebounds, but it was almost a side note to the outside shooting of IU’s guards. Lander finished with 10 points, including a pair of 3s. Galloway added 11 points, including his one deep make.

Phinisee and forward Race Thompson each added eight points.

“You see it with all the guys. We’ve been working a lot on making each other more confident and making our passes on time, on target, and just having the confidence to come in and step in,” Leal said. “We knew Arty was capable of it. We know we’re all capable of it.”

An IU team that can hit 3s changes some things. In fact, Miller said he told his players they’d be a “tough cover” if that phase can finally click into gear, because they are already solidifying on the defensive side, getting stops and exchanging those for buckets.

In the second half of Sunday’s contest, IU was able to move the ball and find the right kind of shots, in the right kind of rhythm.

“The ball was getting to the right spots … and the passes were sharp,” Miller said. “The first half, we stood. The quality of the shot, the rhythm of the shot … we had much better chemistry in the offense in the second half and the shots were coming off inside-out action against the zone, which you want. Armaan and Rob both stepped up and made a few.

“When the ball goes in the basket, to me, it takes the pressure off everyone.”

The 3-point shot is still something the Hoosiers have to show they can hit consistently, but there is a big difference between last year’s high in attempts and this one.

Last year, IU threw up 26 3-pointers versus Nebraska. The Hoosiers hit just eight. This time, they launched 33 and made 13 on North Alabama.

Franklin, in particular, has hit double figures scoring in two of IU’s last three games. He was 0-of-5 from deep in two contests before this one.

“I think that’s going to be the Armaan we are going to get used to seeing,” Miller said. “Maybe not five (3s) or whatever he had, but consistently being able to knock those open ones in. When he has that, with the way he’s defending for us and the way he’s creating, he’s turning into a terrific player early in the year for us.”

6 comments

  1. Accept for giving the freshmen and walk-ons some playing time in the second half, this game was meaningless. Playing these under-manned teams in pre-season does nothing to help IU prepare for conference opponents. We improved our 3-point shooting today, but how could we not? Bottom line is that, against real competition, IU is once again a very bad 3-point shooting team, and that allows defenses to surround our best player in the paint.

  2. After 6 games I’m positive about the Frosh with the exception of Lander. He’s a gunner for never seeing a shot he doesn’t like and always plays in front of a mirror even on D. Should have stayed for his Sr. year in HS. Undoubtedly Coach Miller sees the future and is confident he can mold him.

  3. Don Fischer is an institution. However, for so many years now IU has played many meaningless games against undermanned competition. IU wins by 20 plus points. (Except Fort Wayne). Fish and sidekick (which is their job) talks about how great IU does this and that etc. Then, when IU plays, Mich, Mich State, NC, Duke, etc. or even a Florida State or Arkansas IU plays to a loss. During first half IU 3 ball was in the air and I turned radio off and didn’t even wait to see if basketball went in basket. If IU is going to play so many meaningless games there should be no tv or radio broadcast.

  4. Man, always have to complain about something. Always fun to pop in here and see what toy was stolen by whom.

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