Johnson powers IU to 84-82 win at Iowa

IOWA CITY, Iowa — An incredulous smile took shape on Robert Johnson’s face as he stood outside the visitors locker room at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

When informed that his previous trip to this Big Ten facility ended with a rather poor shooting effort from beyond the arc, the senior guard refused to acquiesce.

“For real?” Johnson said. “We’re gonna have to check that.”

There will be no questioning Johnson’s final visit to Iowa City on Saturday. This was a performance to remember.

Johnson tied both Indiana’s single-game record and the Carver-Hawkeye Arena record with nine 3-pointers, shooting the Hoosiers to an 84-82 come-from-behind victory before an announced crowd of 15,229.

For so long this season, Johnson epitomized IU’s shooting troubles from beyond the arc. A 39 percent career 3-point shooter entering the season, Johnson’s accuracy from long range has been fleeting across these past three-plus months.

A game here and a game there would satisfy his desire to give Indiana an offensive threat along the perimeter, but large swaths of Johnson’s campaign have been pockmarked with inconsistent shooting efforts.

Not this time.

In addition to tying an IU single-game 3-point record previously held by Matt Roth and Rod Wilmont, Johnson’s game-high 29 points were a personal best.

“It just felt good,” Johnson said. “The coaches and the team never lose confidence in me, so I just have to always have that on my mind. It really worked for me today.”

Johnson was feeling it on Saturday, and during a run of three consecutive 3-pointers in the second half, he couldn’t suppress the feeling of finding a groove. After draining a 3 on the wing, they typically-stoic guard looked to teammate Devonte Green, who supplied the pass, and flashed a wide smile.

He wasn’t tracking the number of makes — in fact, both he and coach Archie Miller had no idea how many he had until after the game — rather, he was locked into the moment, enjoying the process of pushing his team to an impressive road victory.

“Rob’s always ready to go,” fifth-year senior forward Collin Hartman said. “I’m his roommate on the road. We always talk every single day, every single night about mindset and keeping things in perspective and just making the most of your opportunities. You play with confidence and that’s what he did today. That’s what he does every day. He works hard. It was good to see it pay off for him.”

Indiana (16-12, 9-7) needed each of Johnson’s shots on an afternoon that saw the Hoosiers climb out of an early hole to secure their fourth consecutive victory.

Iowa (12-17, 3-13) made each of its first 10 attempts to start the game, posting assists on each try. There were 3s and layups and mid-range shots in between, an electric first seven minutes for an Iowa team that has little trouble getting baskets on its home floor.

Where Iowa struggles is on the defensive end, evident both in Johnson’s career day and the Hoosiers’ ability to erase the Hawkeyes’ early 13-point advantage.

After Isaiah Moss’ jumper at the 13:41 mark gave Iowa a 23-10 lead, Miller called a 30-second timeout to steady his team. Looking at the early deficit, while also recognizing some of his team’s limitations, Miller was understandably concerned.

“We’re in big trouble,” he thought to himself. “They shot 71 percent for the half. You couldn’t shoot 71 percent in shootaround.”

But out of the timeout, Johnson sank his first 3-pointer of the day and put the Hoosiers on course to outscore the home team 32-22 over the final 13 minutes of the half.

Indiana’s resurgence carried into the second period, when it outscored Iowa 30-14 during the first nine minutes.

“They’re a good offensive team,” Miller said. “If you look at their numbers, and what they’ve done all season, they’re one of the best offensive teams in the country, especially in this place. I thought in the second half we had our moments where we were able to do a better job. We had more of a sound defense. Obviously their percentages came down. This game, as crazy as it sounds, came down to our offense. Our offense needed to be able to score today.”

The Hoosiers pushed their lead to as many as 13 points when Johnson sank three straight 3-pointers midway through the second half, but the Hawkeyes had one last run of their own.

Indiana turnovers helped Iowa get going, and the combination of Jordan Bohannon and Tyler Cook, who led Iowa with 28 points, allowed Iowa to tie the game on free throws by Cook with 1:50 remaining in regulation.

Cook went to the line when Justin Smith was called for his fifth foul, and Smith’s exit put starting forward Freddie McSwain back on the floor for the final, frenetic finish.

And much like Johnson had answered the call for much of Saturday’s game, McSwain was there at the end.

He gave Indiana its best option against Cook on the defensive end, while also dropping in the game-winning layup off a beautiful post feed from Green with 49 seconds remaining.

“He’s a hoss,” Hartman said. “He’s a strong dude. “It’s great to have him. He’s relentless on the boards and very athletic and very strong. He can guard big guys like that and he’s a real asset.”

This day belonged to Johnson, a willing and able performer who shot Indiana to its latest road win.

“Every day and every game, we’re just finding a way to get better,” Johnson said. “When things happen within a game, we’re doing a good job of not going away.”

41 comments

  1. After his tying free throws, Cook, who finished with 28 points, missed two hots and had a turnover in the final 1:09.

    Missed two hots…? Cheerleaders?

    Dakich must truly hate Indiana…How in the %($*&$%*(^#^(# ing way can he say we’re not in the NCAA tournament unless we win the Big Ten tournament? Really, Dan? Is that what you hope or what you truly believe?
    I think 11-7 and one win in the Big Ten tournament gets us in….An invite at 10-8 is sill not out of the question if we defeat a higher Big Ten tournament seed. But to say we’re automatically out of bracket consideration when we still have a shot at 11-7 and a 5th place conference finish? Asinine.

    1. On this occasion, I agree with Dakich. Indiana’s best win is over a Notre Dame team that has really fallen off, mostly due to injuries, and two really bad losses to Indiana State and IPFW. They’re barely in the NIT, let alone NCAA. Now maybe if they win out and make the Big Ten Tournament championship game, but that’s still cutting it close.

      1. Completely disagree. ND had Colson when we won the ND game….They had additional personnel hits/injuries beyond Colson. That’s why they’ve fallen off. If we beat Nebraska on the road and finish with a W at home against OSU, I say we’re a lock.

        Dakich is a complete ass….He made a statement of Indiana not making the tournament as if it were written in stone. He didn’t formulate his statement as if it were an opinion. That’s known as a prejudice and far removed from objective reporting.

      2. We aren’t anywhere close to the NCAA tournament. We are 16-12 with some awful losses to isu, ft wayne, Illinois, and Wisconsin. We still have @nebraska who is no joke and a ranked Ohio state team to play. Ontop of that our only real quality win was Notre Dame who is 16-11. On that note I do feel we have a legitimate shot at winning our first big ten tournament.

    2. Now that you’ve completely removed the sentence I was referencing above from your original story, might as well remove it from my post(along with the hot cheerleaders reference).

  2. Sunday:

    Ohio State @ Michigan
    3:30pm CBS

    Nebraska @ Illinois
    3:30pm BTN

    Penn State @ Purdue
    8:00pm BTN

    Wins by OSU, Illinois, and Purdue tomorrow could really tighten things up in the Big Ten middle of the pack. If all goes to plan, by Monday we could be tied with Penn St, just one behind Mitchagain…and two behind Nebraska.

    Let the fun begin….

    1. Sure was…Hoosiers had tremendous defensive focus during those final Hawkeye possessions. Been a long time since I’ve seen that sort of defensive stubbornness and discipline in clutch time from a Hoosier squad.

      Great win….3-12 teams are sometimes the hardest to beat because they have nothing to lose. Nebraska may find that out tomorrow.

  3. 2 more Big Ten wins than last year, with far inferior talent. This has turned into a fun-to-watch team. Talk about learning to attack the zone! You’d have to think Archie saw this team shoot and instilled the acumen. I caught myself imagining what might have been if Archie would have had the Hulls, Zoeller, Oladipo, & friends team vs. Syracuse.

    Thankfully we WILL make the NIT. And I like our odds on Senior Night at home. And I can’t wait to see what unfolds in the Big Ten tournament.

  4. Really happy with this win. We could of easily been blown out early on. Loosing our lead halfway through the second half was frustrating, but we kept our composure and pulled out the win. IU historically has a hard time winning in Iowa regardless of anything.

    Miller’s style of play is really proving that if played correctly we can beat anyone, anywhere, at anytime. Green still amazes me that he has bought in. I truly thought he wouldn’t be able to play in this system and he has proved me wrong. Nice to see Johnson have a great game too. Newkirk has been contributing as well. Hopefully we can get something rolling in the big ten tournament. After all it’s hard to beat the same team 3 times.

  5. Hate to break it to you guys, but this team is playing their asses off for an NCAA bid….If we win the last two, I think we’re in(especially considering the upcoming games for PSU and Michigan). Our destiny will likely rest in our game at Nebraska.

    Or are you guys only thinking five teams from the conference?

    1. We’ll see, but I think Jeremy’s comment about ‘barely making the NIT’ is absurd. If this team went 10-8 in the conference and didn’t get a bid to the Big Dance they would be the first team the NIT committee would call.

      1. Chet- Sit down. I agree with you.
        Jeremy’s comments are absurd…and then smell of the same sort of agenda(lost agenda?) and absurdness that spewed from Dakich during last night’s broadcast.
        Please tell me any year Crean was coaching when they wouldn’t have claimed it was highway robbery if a 5th or 6th place finish, and an 11-7 record(or even 10-8) in a major conference of 14 teams, shouldn’t be worthy of invite to the Big Dance?
        I guess there’s only bad losses for Archie. But there is no such thing as bad wins…(e.g. beating Grand Canyon State, Transylvania College, Alcorn State, No State State, Duluth Baptist Community College…and every other cupcake with a 300+ RPI Crean would put on a schedule to pad victories).

        At the end of the day, the conference record matters. It mattered for Crean as it were a stellar achievement to end up at the top of the standings when gifted the easiest conference schedule in school history(2015 season).

        And they say I should let go? They’re still apologizing for Crean by denying/’wrecking’ this team’s same chances via minimizing just how much Archie has transformed what was earlier regarded as a pathetic team. Go back and read their posts ….This team was pegged to do nothing. We had horrible shooters….We had guys who would never buy in, etc, etc. In stead of being honest and admit how much a quality coach can do with a broken roster, they prefer to railroad and sabotage via their positions in the media. SAD.

        The NIT is the “Nothing Important Tournament.’ We all know that. UK is 7-7 in the SEC….Are they going to the Nothing Important Tournament?

          1. is ‘NYC Buckets’ a reliable source for NIT selections? Looks like a rather bogus site. Last season, they changed their projections weekly.
            Nebraska, Penn State, and Maryland in their recent projected brackets? Are they smokin’ weed? Nebraska is a certain NCAA team. Penn State is certainly a strong enough team to be in the Big Dance. We are on the fence pending our finish…..
            If we defeat Nebraska on the road and end up at 11-7 and don’t get an NCAA bid, I would refuse any NIT invite anyway as a form of protest against the Establishment.

        1. 7-7 and 18-9…two wins over opponents that are currently ranked…listed at 7th but tied for 4th in the SEC. I would imagine it will depend on how Kentucky finishes the year out. I don’t see a “sure thing” there. 2012-2013 they went to the NIT and lost in the first round to Robert Morris. They were 21-12 and 12-6…not to mention the year before they won the NCAA tournament. Based on fact and history I’d say Kentucky may be headed for the NIT if they don’t finish well.

      2. Butler 8-7 in conference…Syracuse 7-7 in conference….UK 7-7 in conference. All still have their names in Bracketology. Is the SEC and Big East that much more worthy than 10-8 or 11-7 in the BIG? Because I’m seeing plenty of bad losses on those team’s schedules.

        Texas at 6-8 (16-11 overall) and in 8th place in the Big 12…is still a ‘First Four In’ according to “Bracketology Expert,” Jerry Palm. How many “good” wins should cover that many losses?

        Too many agendas have ruined college basketball. A media wrought in agenda(along with their Establishment bracketology “experts”) exert far too much influence on the process. There is plenty of reason they sold Crean as quality coach …and now will not give us a sniff of consideration when our conference record exceeds so many teams they are treating as “automatic” qualifiers. SAD.

  6. In all the years of the BTT, Knight through Crean, I’ve not felt the confidence like this year. Of course the transformation of Green added to the positive performance of the bench players can make that kind of thing happen.

    1. Well the real amazing part of it is doing it without Davis. He was the one that was really doing it for us early on until morgan turned a corner. Would of liked to seen Davis progress this year.

  7. I think 5 teams are getting in personally. If they take 6 and we are in a tie for 6th with Penn State, I think penn state goes because the beat Ohio state twice and one of those wins is better than any of ours.

    It’s been a fun team to watch go through some ups and downs, but I don’t think the resume or the wins will be there at the end of the day. I definitely have high hopes for the near future though.

    1. Bingo…great analysis of our limited chances. Our biggest, most legit chance is winning the Big Ten tournament. Neutral floor, playing as good as any team in the conference right now.

    2. Ben_M-

      Here’s the pathway to 5th place.

      a. We win out…@Nebraska and OSU
      b. Michigan wins @PSU
      c. PSU wins @ Nebraska

      If the above happens…

      IU (11-7) and Nebraska (11-7)…
      We tie for 5th Place. We win the tiebreaker based on defeating Nebraska on the road in our only match-up.
      PSU (10-8) 6th Place

      The only way we should be refused an invite to the Big Dance is if the committee only selects 4 teams from the Big Ten.

  8. Penn State has @Purdue, Michigan, and @Nebraska…..Three very tough games. It’s not that improbable they go 0-3. They are currently 9-6. Even if they wind up at 10-8, we finish ahead of them if we win out.
    This thing is far from over…Rare time to be rooting for the Boilers tomorrow.

  9. We need Mitchagain to go 0-3. They have OSU, @PSU, @Maryland.
    We need PSU to go 1-2 (only winning against Mitchagain at home)
    We need to finish 2-0.

    If the above happens, we finish 11-7 in 5th place ahead of Mitchagain and PSU(tied for 6th at 10-8 each).

    1. I think that’s a pretty solid way to look at it to be honest, but there are a lot of “ifs” there. Hardest one of those 3 things happening is our Hoosiers going 2-0. We don’t have much luck against Nebraska and they are playing well. Anything is possible on our old decrepit gym, but Ohio State did go into Mackey and beat a really good Purdue team.

      Michigan won so the 0-3 thing isn’t happening, could be why they are 4th in the conference and ranked in the top 25.

      Penn State is a hard one my guess is they go 0-3.

      Now if Nebraska goes 0-3 that would be interesting. @illinois now, iu, penn state. If pen state beats them and looses 2 we move ahead of them. If Nebraska looses all 3 we could tie for 5th.

      What I don’t get is if they only take 4 or 5 teams out of the Big14 super conference why would anyone want to put themselves in that position.

      1. Ben_M-

        It’s a long shot…I’m just holdin’ out hope. I remember plenty of years when the NCAA would take six teams from the Big Ten before the addition of Rutgers and Maryland(both likely wishing they would have never entered our conference).
        I just don’t get the conservative thinking this year and why all the talking heads are assuming they’ll only go four teams deep. I suppose it’s all due to the bracketology “experts.”

        My worry is that Purdue will flop tonight …simply to hurt our chances. They are out of title contention and Penn State is fighting for the tournament hopes.

        “decrepit court”…? Was that a jab at me because I believed we needed a new stadium instead of a remodel job? Funny….but, hey, I didn’t do the voodoo magic that sent the steel beam in Assembly from ceiling to front row seats. There was a game scheduled for that evening…Remember? Wow…could that have turned out ugly. What if that happens a few hours later…? And then the real possibility that Devin Davis could have lost his life on 17th Street on a Halloween night?
        I’m not sure if Hoosier Basketball is really entitled to any more luck. The Crean years could have been stained with some real tragedies….

        1. I’m not a Tom Crean fan. I feel Assembly hall for what ever reason has given us a significant advantage over the years. No matter the coach we have pulled out some major victories in that building. At one time we won 50 in a row. Apparently maintenance wasn’t up to par and that is pathetic I will agree.

          I really enjoy reading and debating different things on here with you, but let Tom Crean go. At one point I actually felt supporting Crean was the way to go, but you personally changed my mind on that idea.

          I hope we get to the NCAA as much as you do I’m sure. If we win out our chances are undoubtedly better. 13 losses will be pushing our luck but not out of the question. Ohio State would be a great win over a ranked team and that is something our resume desperately needs.

          1. Sorry, Ben….Couldn’t stand the guy from Day 1. Can’t stand him now. Can’t stand listening to him on ESPN. Is what it is…There is nothing he’ll ever do to change my mind. I thought his entire approach here was wrong….(especially his early days).
            Surely those who admire him can’t do so because of his basketball intellect. He brings a lot of magic potions wherever he goes….including finding villains and sinners to target and condemn.

            I’m so damn glad we’re done with him/it.

          2. I’ve been to games at some of the most storied venues in the game and, honestly, Assembly Hall is the best view of a game as it gets. I can’t comment on the player perspective but they seem to like it.

            Some of big arenas (Rupp, Dean Dome, etc.) really suck as far as watching a basketball game.

      2. Nebraska falls at Illinois….They are going to come at us hard on Tuesday night. Should be fun.

        Penn State finishes 10-8…? We end up tied with Nebraska at 11-7…(if we defeat them on Tuesday, win at home against OSU…and they lose their final game against PSU)?
        We finish in 5th and win the tiebreaker with Nebraska?

        This is getting confusing…I told you guys that a lot was still up for grabs.

  10. Maybe if we’d beaten ISU, Ft. Wayne, and the first IL game we’d be going to the Dance, but there’s no way, after those losses, that this IU team is going unless we win the BIG tournament. Making a deep run in the NIT might be more valuable for the younger players on this roster than simply playing one game in the NCAA tourney.

    1. Those were early season losses before Archie could implement the mindset change and the cultural shift(basically, teach the game of basketball at McCracken again) …..What Archie has done with transforming this team is nothing short of a miracle. No Bryant. No OG. No Blackman. DeRon out for the season. Hartman banged up for a much of the season. Bench mainly comprised of freshman….
      And Dakich has the nerve (more like the utter stupidity of a sabotage artist) to claim on national television that Archie was left with a ‘Good ‘n’ Plenty’ roster?
      Demon basketball had infiltrated Bloomington (and I’m not talking DePaul basketball transfers or Linda Blair poster beds getting more air than Oladipo). It required weeks of cursing out the Seven Deadly Hoops Sins infected upon returning players in dire need of a total exorcism their Crean hoops witchcraft…
      1. Turnover devils. 2. Narcissism ballin’ devils…3. Lazy defensive mindset devils…4. No help defense devils. 5. Erratic offensive purpose and ‘Weaves to Nowhere’ devils. 6. Poor shot selection devils…7. Cue card devils!
      If they win out, I truly believe it’s possibly the greatest miracle of good to ever beset upon and reverse unholy basketball. Such a turnaround must be awarded…and must be advocated to be awarded or we have succumbed to an evil force beyond apology or false hoops prophets.
      Speaking of the devil….How many bad losses has UK had? Do they belong in the ‘Big Evil Dance’ while sitting at 7-7 in the middle of the pack of the SEC? You gotta be one unholy Hoosier to defend their mediocrity while minimizing our miracle.
      Dakich ..Evil. ESPN…Evil. Lunardi…Evil. Establishment…Evil. Price and Podunker….? Evil Apologists still working for the fraud departed.
      Any true Hoosier fan refusing the honest eye for the miracle Archie has worked beds with sin and insincerity when they mock this team for their early losses….Only a spirit lost in darkness would use such swords for are demise when they knew very well that sinful basketball was still being extracted from our deceived players who had been used for greed in the game above classroom; used for slogans and sound bites above humble truths on hardwood and disciplined quests for competence. Do NOT TAKE THE PATHWAYS OF DARK INSINCERE THOUGHTS and BLOG DECEPTIONS!
      The POWER OF A BUBBLE TEAM COMPELS YOU!!! The POWER OF A BUBBLE TEAM COMPELS YOU!!! The POWER OF A BUBBLE TEAM COMPELS YOU!!!

  11. Had we beat Illinois, Wisconsin, ISU, and ft wayne we’d be tired for 4th with Michigan and would of been 11-5 and 20-8. We could of and should of done that and I think had we done that we would be talking last 4 in or last 4 out depending on how the rest of the year played out.

    The defensive turn around has been absolutely remarkable, but it took half a season to get to that point. We have turned into one of those teams that would always beat us. I’m pleased as a fan. NCAA or NIT doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. We are bringing in a great class of kids who can score and we have matured and developed players on our current roster.

    2 scholarships available. I’d love to see Langford get one. I think going to Indiana would help him develop defensively which is arguably the weakest part of his game. At the end of the day I think we are in good shape with or without him.

    With the way iu has progressed I think it will help us get the attention of some players in the spring. Also the inevitable changing of coaches, grad transfers, and the 2nd wave of this FBI deal could leave a lot of quality players up for grabs in the spring. Those two scholarships could really springboard this program into being seriously competitive.

  12. I’d like to see that second open scholarship go to an athletic kid who is at least 6’10”. He does not have to be ready to start as a freshman, but he should have the frame, athletic ability and ambition to contribute off the bench and develop into a solid post player by his Junior year. I’m visualizing Kent Benson (who was a bit raw when he arrived at IU), or Uwe Blab, who developed into an effective Center, or Arizona’s Dusan Ristic who has had a great senior season. We need another big man!

    1. Jake forrester is 6-10 athletic and probably not in position to start. Clifton Moore fits that description as well.

  13. Lot of excitement for 2 point road win against Iowa and if IU men make NIT or the big dance? I thought I would add this post to make score
    IU ladies basketball Saturday win blog 41
    IU men basketball Saturday win blog with this one 29.

  14. Women are always more loyal than men…..Their fans less fair weather.

    There are also many apologists still feeling very melancholic over the firing of Crean. Their emotional support for the men’s program may take some time to regain(almost like the dissolution of a cult..or the removal of a cult figure).

  15. While we won’t get that kind of shooting display every night just seeing RJ regain his confidence in his shot bodes well as the season wraps up. Had we had a consistent threat from the arc earlier in the year this season might be looking a lot different.

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