Durham playing steady ahead of Duke game

For Indiana’s freshmen, Wednesday’s showdown with No. 1 Duke will be their first taste of a big-game atmosphere inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

In Al Durham’s case, the first six games of his college career serve as evidence that he’ll handle the stage well.

Durham, the freshman guard from Georgia, has enjoyed a fine start to the season, impacting Indiana’s backcourt as a steady, heady reserve. Most remarkable?

Durham has played the last four-plus games — a span of approximately 130 minutes — without a turnover.

“You’re not going to find a guy early in his career that’s this steady,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said.

Durham has only two turnovers this season, his last coming 4:24 into the second half of IU’s Nov. 12 win over Howard. He’s the top freshman nationally with a 9-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio and ranks No. 35 nationally with a turnover rate of only 4.8 percent. Of the 34 players listed ahead of him, according to college basketball statistics web site KenPom.com, only six are rookies.

“When he’s on the floor, even coming into (last week’s game against Arkansas State), our team, I think, is plus-35,” Miller said, alluding to the fact that the Hoosiers score 35 more points than opponents with Durham in the lineup. “That’s really rare for a freshman to have that type of impact, and one of the reasons is he doesn’t turn the ball over. He takes care of the ball. He makes the right read. He’s an efficient scorer. He’s not even shooting the ball as well as he can.”

Playing point and shooting guard, Durham is averaging 9.0 points off the bench.

He’s shooting 57 percent (12 for 21) on shots inside the arc and 35 percent (5 for 14) on 3-point attempts. According to KenPom.com, Durham (No. 81) is one of the top 100 most efficient players in the country.

“I think if he can get his legs under him, I think being able to stretch the floor for three is going to help him,” Miller said. “He’s off to a really good start. He’s very coachable. He has a great attitude.”

To his teammates, Durham’s steady hand has been much appreciated.

In practice, players are split between red and white teams for daily workouts. Each squad is given a limit of seven turnovers, and once that limit has been reached, players have to run as punishment.

No matter which team he’s on, Durham takes a serious approach to not reaching the limit.

“I feel like Al came in as a very smart guard and just that going into the practice and how we practice and how hard we practice, makes the game easy for him,” sophomore forward De’Ron Davis said.

Junior forward Juwan Morgan agrees.

“He’s probably one of the more poised people I’ve seen at such a young age,” Morgan said, “especially coming in playing in the big games. He’s not rattled at all.”

For Durham and the Hoosiers, that’s a quality that will serve them well on Wednesday night.

One comment

  1. Duke has had some strange games this year. Like to think game will be a repeat of CWat/Ky but probably not.

    Watching Maryland/Syracuse game, TV guy talking about the action said “he was able to get it up and not able to get it in”. Could have been talking about politicians.

Comments are closed.