Morgan helps Hoosiers hold on vs. Terps, 71-68

During his three years at Indiana, Juwan Morgan has earned his reputation.

Not only is the junior forward developing into one of the Big Ten’s toughest players to guard, he’s also one of the league’s toughest players, period.

The depth and breadth of Morgan’s value to Indiana was on full display Monday.

Morgan shook off an ankle injury suffered three days earlier, returning to IU’s starting lineup and leading the Hoosiers to a 71-68 win over Maryland before an electric crowd at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

“Being able to get Juwan sort of back up and going again was a big key,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said.

Never mind that Morgan didn’t practice in recent days, or that he was last seen hobbling out of the Breslin Center on a pair of crutches. Monday’s performance was what Indiana has come to expect from Morgan.

In more ways than one.

This is the same player that played through a separated shoulder late during his freshman season, memorably popping his shoulder back into place on several occasions. It’s the same player who fought his way back onto the court after suffering a foot injury during a freak collision with an official this time last year.

It’s the same player Indiana has leaned on countless times throughout this season, the one who has welcomed the burden of high expectations and delivered consistent results during this transitional year for the IU program.

Monday was the latest exceptional effort authored by Morgan this season, a 25-point, five-rebound performance that featured a key putback off a missed free throw with 36 seconds left in a tight ballgame. Morgan also added four assists, two blocks and two steals while playing 36 minutes.

Morgan, who rolled his ankle with less than three minutes remaining in Friday’s blowout defeat at Michigan State, was unable to play during the second half against the Spartans. Rather than even attempt a comeback in that contest, he and IU’s training staff immediately shifted to treatment and rehabilitation with the Maryland matchup in mind.

Waking up Saturday morning, Morgan felt considerable pain. He didn’t think he’d be able to play against the Terrapins.

By Monday morning, his ankle felt better. Hours before the 7 p.m. tipoff, Indiana athletic trainer Tim Garl asked Morgan to walk around and try some cutting movements in the team’s training room. Things were beginning to look good.

Morgan could feel it.

“I kind of knew it felt good,” Morgan said. “I knew I was going to be going.”

He was the last Hoosier to emerge from the locker room tunnel for the pregame shootaround, and by the time his name was announced in the lineup moments before the game, the assembled crowd at the venerable arena was eager to welcome him back to action.

Morgan didn’t disappoint.

“He played great for us tonight, on offense, on defense,” teammate Zach McRoberts said. “That big rebound towards the end after the missed free throw was huge for us. He’s just a little bit of everything. Obviously, you see how important he is for us. It was good he could be out there tonight.”

In a back-and-forth game, Morgan helped IU (12-8, 5-3) defend its home court and keep Maryland (15-7, 4-5) winless in its three games in Bloomington since the Terrapins joined the Big Ten in 2014. Robert Johnson added 12 points and eight rebounds, while Justin Smith chipped in with 12 points for the Hoosiers, who next travel to Illinois to face the Illini on Wednesday at 9 p.m.

Maryland point guard Anthony Cowan led the Terps with 18 points.

Indiana, which felt wronged by a series of calls late in the second half, ripped off a 7-0 run during an 89-second span leading into the final media timeout. It gave the Hoosiers a 64-62 lead as the building buzzed with angry electricity.

Morgan accounted for five of IU’s points during the run, then went on to score 12 of the team’s final 16 points.

None of them were bigger than his late putback.

After Maryland reserve Jared Nickens sank a 3-pointer to cut IU’s lead to 67-66 with 1:06 remaining, Josh Newkirk went to the line with 38.7 seconds on the clock and missed a pair of free throws. After the second rimmed out, Morgan swooped over Maryland’s Darryl Morsell to snatch the rebound. He spun to his right, freed himself of Kevin Huerter’s defense and dumped in the putback as Assembly Hall roared.

“I thought it was about to roll in and I jumped before it came out,” Morgan said. “And then, by the time I came back down, it was coming off. I knew I had enough time to get it off the ground before — I think it was (Morsell) who was blocking me out, and I just reached over him and got it and it was wide open.”

It was the signature play of Morgan’s latest signature game.

The kind of performance these Hoosiers have come to expect.

“It was just the least I could do for my team,” Morgan said. “The way they were just going at it in practice and just really giving it their all then, it was the least I could do for them tonight.”

35 comments

  1. I haven’t enjoyed watching a player as much as I’ve enjoyed watching Morgan this year in quite some time. Can you imagine with Archie Miller could have done with Cody Zeller? Mitch McGary might have dropped out and become a bowler much earlier.

    Love seeing Justin Smith get going too. Nice 1-2 punch.

    But our guard play? Wow. Newkirk with 4 turnovers, and Durham with 3. What’s happened to Durham? He’s playing very timid right now. The game is just moving a little too fast for him. RJ – another game of mixed results. Still can count on him for a few mental mistakes. Trying to call timeout while defending under the basket? Brother, that was bad.

    1. Can you imagine with Archie Miller could have done with Cody Zeller?

      I would simply imagine Cody selling out again and going to the NBA.
      And that’s why Archie would have recruited McGary much harder…along with Robinson…and Zak Irvin…instead of Cody’s AAU friends and a slew of raw A-Hope projects who weren’t much more use than Priller.

  2. This conference horrible. May get 4 bids, but probably only 3. Feels good that Illinois is still winless. Too bad it isn’t vs Bruce Webber.

    1. The conference is not horrible.
      MSU and Michigan are quality teams. Wagner is a very versatile post player.
      MSU is a legit Final Four team.
      Purdue has better inside-outside balance than anything in their past.
      Maryland is short some key players….Minnesota lost guys from injury and off-the-court allegations. OSU is one of the biggest surprises in the country.

      And the future looks very bright for the Big Ten…Really nice new influx of legit and young coaches(Underwood, Collins, Archie, Holtmann) . In a few years, the Big Ten will have some of the best in the business to complement the more senior members. Should be a ton of fun. All these guys value every aspect of the game…and great teachers of the game. There are no carnival acts left in the Big Ten.

  3. Justin Smith is a baller….Plays within himself. Very poised for a freshman.
    Morgan has more savvy around the hoop than Zeller ever possessed.

    Great win for the Hoosiers. This team has nearly already surpassed the apologists predictions of a disastrous season.

    Illinois is the best 0-6 team(conference record) in the country. Underwood will get that program where we’ll be hating them again. They are young but they are deep. Playing a brand of tenacious defense like I’ve never seen from a Hoosier team over the last two decades. Archie is getting the Hoosiers to play far better defense(especially help and double team) than anything we’ve been accustomed to….but Illinois is relentless (very quick guards).

  4. Great win. Morgan and Smith both impressive. We aren’t the best team in the Big Ten but we are better than half of it which is a good place to start with a new coach. Do t count Illinois out. Our team is slowly improving, but IU is a good candidate to give Illinois their first win in conference. It’s a must win for the Hoosiers.

    1. Every win will be a dogfight. I wouldn’t expect any more blowouts as we had against Northwestern.

      I really like this team. They have to fight for everything…and they know it.

  5. Don’t look now but we’re 5th in the league! Enjoy it why we can. 5 wins out of the 7 or 8 I thought we’d have in conference. I’ll keep taking them. When Archie was hired I thought we’d win as many games this year as we did last year with 3 “NBA hopefuls” & Clappy the Clown.

    McRoberts is a tipped ball, havoc wreaking machine. I continue to be impressed by his grit and determination and impact he has on the game. Relentless! He’s a very positive influence and weapon for this team. I bet he won’t miss 2 FTs again in a game, let alone in a row, all season.

    The ILLini are indeed well coached (shout out to H4H for that observation). And they play very, very hard. I think we’re in trouble Thr. Big trouble. They gave MSU all they wanted and they’re rabid hungry now. And we have our biggest game all year coming up next Sun. It’ll be easy to look ahead & get t-boned.

  6. Btw, I’m embarrassed by our student section. No one showing up to games. Balcony empty? Ok… Well not ok. But empty seats in the student section ON THE FLOOR at Assembly Hall? Find those assigned seats, follow up and make sure someone didn’t have a collective stroke in their family. If they didn’t, ban those kids from ever walking into Assembly Hall ever again. And I’m dead serious.

    Times are a changing.

    Archie is working miracles with nothing on the roster. Never thought the fans wouldn’t show up. Even Illinois student section showed up to cheer on their winless team v MSU.

    1. DD,

      I would like to hear more comments from you and others on this subject. If the students did not show, then this is a big problem. I have long maintained the problem in IU athletics is Hoosier Nation itself. Student support is a HUGE part of this equation. It has been obvious for a very long time in the Football program, but if this is affecting the Basketball program then there is a major cultural problem at IU.

      There is one consistent thing in most of your top Football or Basketball programs, rabid student support. Doesn’t matter whether it is an intellectual powerhouse, liberal or conservative school; student involvement is a huge part of successful programs whether they are currently winning or not. As I said, would like to hear more on this specific issue.

      1. …on that note…

        I commented earlier about how Romeo would be lost in a sea of apathy at Vanderbilt. They currently have their poorest basketball attendance in 53 years (8,700 per game). They only draw about 30,000 for SEC football games. Their non conference home opener in FOOTBALL drew 5,000 fans this past season!

        Northwestern has one NCAA tournament victory EVER. They beat Vandy.

        It’s hard to understand why he consider wanting to play in obscurity. College Gameday isn’t going to show up because Vandy might lose to Kentucky by 10 instead of 15. I’ve lived there. Nashville is NOT a sports town.

        1. OSU still going strong….Romeo will probably go play for Holtmann. It’s still very close to his home and he plays for the former Butler coach who is now the hottest thing since Brad Stevens.
          Would love to be wrong, but most of these one-and-done’s desire to be on teams with very strong NCAA tournament potential.

          1. I honestly think with our incoming class, Davis, morgan, smith, Durham, Langford,and a few more additions to the roster we will be very competitive next year.

      2. It’s real simple. College kids at IU have not experienced a good IU basketball program in their LIFETIME! These kids were born when Knight was fired. They know nothing about NCAA championships or final 4’s. They have experienced no real success. Knight won from 71-00. Knight had 29 years of consistent success to vetting degrees that bred a fan based that became used to winning. 18 year old kids were born in 2000….3 big tens and 1 final four since their birth.

    2. I’m currently a student and my group had tickets behind the basket last night. We got there like 15 minutes early and absolutely no one was there. At tip off, it was maybe 75% full, which is absolutely embarrassing. It filled out a little as the game went on, but I really have no clue to why people are not showing up for games like this. IU supposedly assigns those tickets based off your group’s attendance from previous years, but obviously that isn’t working. I’ve been a diehard my whole life and I can’t imagine having those tickets and choosing not to attend.

      On top of that, I can’t help but be disappointed with the GA student section as well. The balcony is empty for most games. Last night, the student section was so quiet until the last 5 minutes of the game when Archie did everything he could to fire the crowd up. He shouldn’t have to be waving his arms to the crowd after every dead ball to get the crowd to make some noise.

      1. Just a wild theory/guess but maybe the atmosphere is turning to what IU Football is as in if the product/ relevancy improves fans will come out. Perhaps you can’t automatically assume anymore they will fill the place up. The diehard fan is no dummy. They knew it would likely be a down year and perhaps not as invested. It would be very alarming if this happened next season due to the star power of the recruiting class.

        The way people view sports is rapidly changing. People are tuning out ESPN etc for other viewing habits such as phones, Hulu and YouTube. Rating for sports continue to go down across the board. Glad this was brought to our attention. Good stuff.

        1. I think you nailed it, Ben. There are so many more options. I don’t know if I’ll ever attend another NFL game. The television product is better and I don’t have to deal with parking, drunks, etc. The costs have become exorbitant, as well.

          That being said, if I lived in Bloomington and had a ticket I’d absolutely be there. A game at Assembly Hall just isn’t inconvenient or terribly expensive. Football,too. It’s a great experience for the cost. I can understand if someone chose to not buy a ticket but I do not understand having a ticket and not using it.

          But, I was a student and season ticket holder during the undefeated seasons and went to class with some of those guys so it is a part of me.

      2. Thanks for the on-the-ground reporting. Glad to see you remain steadfast!

        Who are the columnists for the IDS? They need to be making a huge stink about this.

  7. Points in the paint, blocks, TO’s and steals IU led in all. Considering those stats it was a bit surprising IU lost the challenge on the boards by 11. Our guard play would be so enhanced by a greasy fast PG.
    I fear the Illini guards will eat up the play of ours. Really like HC Brad Underwood. If he would have landed in Bloomington I would not have been a bit unhappy.
    Ben, I caught up on past several days posts early this morning. I could not accomplish the the work you do every day. I’m not made of the stuff to be effective. Being around folks who are truly suffering just melts me. I do put up a good front but in the end it is 1 of the very few things I fear dealing with. Good on YOU! HC

    1. Thank you for the kind words HC. We all have different talents and thankful I found my groove early in life. Keep up the good work on here. I enjoy reading your posts as they’re accurate and quick to the point and not composed by a “keyboard superstar”. You say what needs to be said and the rest usually takes care of itself.

      I’ll be traveling to Indiana to visit family in April in the North Webster/Huntington, Indiana area. I hear they charge a toll crossing the Ohio River now. Won’t sit too well with dad. Take care and hope your grandfather is going strong. Ben

  8. Juwan Morgan is a MAN! Wow, his performance last night was really impressive.

    Missing four out of the last six free throws should have cost this team the win. It’s embarrassing how bad this team shoots free throws.

    In my four years as a student in Bloomington, I never missed a home basketball game. Not once. If I did not have tickets, I begged for them, traded favors to get them or simply spent my beer money to buy them. Of course, my freshman year was the year after IU won the Championship in 76. I don’t recall too many empty seats during games in any of those four seasons. The problem with IU’s students is two fold. First, like most in this generation, they are addicted to technology. Cell phones, tablets, laptops, games, and all those apps that they were raised with have turned them into technology addicts. Unless there is a compelling reason to get off the couch and go to the game, it’s just as entertaining to play with their toys and social media in there rooms. Secondly, their has been a growing malaise about IU Athletics for a long time now. This generation of students was not born yet the last time IU did anything special in basketball or football. Mediocrity does not motivate them to change their behavior. And honestly, losing to ISU and Ft. Wayne at home does not help inspire them to attend games, But this generation of students, and a few before them, have become bandwagon fans. They’ll show up when they believe IU will do something special again. Until then, they have better things to do. Obviously, it’s not all of them, but far too many of them. It’s so very sad.

  9. This has nothing to do with technology. This has to do with the fact that there is a massive demographic shift in the makeup of the student body. When I applied to Indiana, I wanted to be as far away that parents would let me go from Philadelphia. I hated going to high school there. The people were lousy. My graduating class was 400+ and I was not only the only one to go to IU, I was the only one who applied.

    There’s been a massive shift in students who are coming in from out of state. Gee, I wonder why that is? Out of state tuition is more lucrative than the subsidies the state of Indiana gives in state kids. Plus, their parents are usually wealthier and more revenue comes into the school and Bloomington. Those $2k/month condos “downtown” aren’t being filled by kids from Evansville. These out of state kids have no ties to growing up with Indiana basketball. And Indiana hasn’t been worth a damn in a long time.

    Still, it doesn’t matter. These kids were obviously motivated enough to buy basketball tickets. Even if they can’t tell the difference between Steve Alford or Calbert Cheaney, they reflect the passion and desire of the next generation of basketball fans. I’m sure reading about Indiana State and Fort Wayne beatings have put these kids attention elsewhere. It’s kids that just don’t care about Indiana basketball unless we’re good.

    If they really loved basketball, they’d see a coach who is working miracles. They’d also the see the emergence of a player who is working his way into being an all time great Hoosier. Sure this team can be maddening sometimes. But there are some amazing stories emerging from this season and AM’s squad is building something lasting and enduring.

    Like I said, you can track who’s tickets are in those empty seats. At the very least, make sure they are banished to the balcony for the rest of their time at IU.

    1. January 9, 2009
      Indiana University Vice President and Director of Athletics Fred Glass is hoping to attract more fans to come to Assembly Hall for the remainder of the 2009 men’s basketball season. Effective immediately, balcony tickets (subject to availability) will be on sale for the remainder of the season for $5 per game.

      “Attendance at Assembly Hall, as it has been around the conference is a little down,” said Glass. “Because some of this is likely attributable to the challenging national economic situation, we want to make the games more affordable and otherwise more family friendly.”

      Do it, Fred. The program was pretty much decimated by exiting NBA wannabees and lack of strong in-state recruiting …Students, alumni, and residents of Indiana haven’t seen a top Indiana talent (Mr. Basketball..and runner-ups to Mr. Basketball) get successfully recruited to wear the candy stripes since 2012.
      The reunion parties dried up….The attempts to get Knight to appear at football and basketball games has dried up. It’s time to offer a promotion that creates some buzz….Bring back the $5.00 balcony seats. We couldn’t even win an opening round NIT game last season…You should have seen this coming. You couldn’t land Alford, Donovan…or Stevens. There was no enormous buzz of anticipation. Archie is a fine coach. Most are hopeful, but you had to know this was coming.

    2. I also blame the corporate boxes….installed in Assembly. Nothing kills the community feeling that was always Assembly Hall more than separating the peasants(and student populations having to borrow on the collateral of their parent’s dwindling retirement potential) from the elite class behind the tinted glass.
      We get enough of the elite class spitting in the faces of financially squeezed Americans in just about every facet of entertainment, business, and politics. Couldn’t we keep the bourgeois distinctions out of the college game? We preach “next man up” and how every member of a roster is a “team.” We never diminish the importance of any kid who gives his all in practice though he may never see much live action in a game. We are all “one” as Hoosier fans just like our Hoosier teams. I feel like I didn’t get picked in the NFA(National Fan Association) Draft when I look up at those sky boxes. I sort of feel like we aren’t “one” anymore…It’s Assembly Skjodt….followed by private rooms where the elite get wined and dined with little concern of what’s happening on McCracken. No matter what I save or drop in dollars to get near the floor, I may never have the “inside” …connections to live with the movers and shakers up in the rafters.
      Assembly needed upgraded…but it didn’t need to another one of the many ways for the rich to strut their privilege. Sure doesn’t conjure up images of a rusty rim nailed to the side of a barn….

  10. DD, I had a similar situation coming out of High School in Illinois. I was the only kid in my HS graduating class of over 700 that attended IU. But IU has been a big draw for out-of-state kids for decades, so that’s nothing new. And the situation you describe is not unique to IU, and IUB is not even in the top 40 state universities as for the percentage of out-of-state students. So I think the low student attendance and student apathy is due to other factors. Not sure when you attended IU, but I graduated in 1980. That year, the percentage of male students to female students at IUB was about 52 to 48%. Last year, that ratio was reversed, with about 52% of students being female and 48% being male. Also, the percentage of foreign students has increased from about 4.5% to 7.8%. Could those factors have anything to do with attendance at basketball games? I doubt it. People our age find it hard to comprehend how technology has changed this generation of young adults, but I’ll bet it’s a contributing factor. I was in a nice restaurant last spring that was full of kids going to Prom. My wife took a picture of a group of ten attractive HS kids at one table. Every single one of those kids was looking at their cell phones when the photo was taken. It was pathetic!

    1. It”s indeed sad. These days you say hello to someone and they either don’t care to listen or too occupied with their phone. Human contact with one another is becoming a thing of the past. My generation could very well be the last to acknowledge proper etiquette.

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