Langford scores 19, leads IU to season-opening win

It happened quickly, the kind of scoring barrage that comes so effortlessly for Romeo Langford.

But first, Indiana’s star recruit offered a peek at what else is in his toolbox.

While Langford waited 10 minutes and 18 seconds for the first field goal of his college career to fall, he affected the game in other ways. He was a willing passer, feeding others before he even fed himself. He was a conduit for IU’s offensive flow, opening looks for others through his ability to drive and attack.

Most of all, he was as advertised.

Langford eventually got his points, pouring in a game-high 19, in Indiana’s 104-55 victory over Chicago State on Tuesday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. But it was his ability to showcase himself as a complete playmaker that bodes well for IU’s offensive upside.

“If you look at the first four minutes, he probably had three to five passes (that were) unselfish plays on kickouts, drives to pass, looking for the bigs,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “I thought he got off to a really good start passing the ball, which helped our team.”

Indeed, Langford seemed to to switch into pass-first mode early. He didn’t force anything, and he didn’t take shots just to take them. Although Indiana (1-0) needs Langford to score in bunches, it also needs him and his mere presence to put others in positions to succeed.

During the first 10 minutes of the first half, Langford did so with aplomb.

Three minutes into regulation, a drive and kick by Langford turned into a 3-pointer for Devonte Green. Not long after, a pretty dish to Juwan Morgan set up the Indiana senior forward with an easy look at the basket.

For a good chunk of the night, this was standard fare from IU’s heralded newcomer.

“My job is to attack and I was just attacking,” Langford said. “People were getting on me and left my teammates open. And I was just making the right basketball play and let the game come to me.”

Eventually, the shots fell. And quickly.

Langford scored 16 of his 17 first-half points across the final 9:42 of the period. At one point, he scored 11 straight Indiana points beginning with a baseline jumper not long before the under-8 timeout.

Langford’s quick-strike offense turned what was a seven-point IU lead into a 15-point advantage, and IU entered halftime holding a 53-32 lead in a game that was never in doubt.

After missing his first two shots of the night, Langford hit each of his last seven shots to close the period.

“Romeo was the beneficiary of some good advance passes, across the floor, up the floor, and from that point forward (when) he’s in his strength zone,” Miller said. “When he’s in transition, heading to the basket, you saw a guy really was efficient. (He) makes a few more free throws, probably looks almost like a flawless game for him, offensively.”

It wasn’t just Langford who struggled at the line. Langford went merely 5-for-11 at the stripe, and he and his teammates combined to shoot just 57.6 percent on free throws.

Shooting was a concern for last year’s barren offensive bunch, and while this year’s roster should fare better, Tuesday wasn’t a good start.

“You make them or don’t make them,” Miller said. “Guys have to step up, go to the line, knock them in. Especially your better shooters. And I think that will always balance out over the course of the year.”

Langford was one of four Hoosiers to finish in double figures. Devonte Green added 15 points for IU, while Evan Fitzner scored 14 and Justin Smith posted 13 points for IU, which returns to action on Friday night against Montana State.

Fitzner came off the bench and impacted IU both as a scorer and a rebounder, finishing with six boards. Point guard Robert Phinisee also started in his college debut and continued to lay claim to the starting job for the weeks to come. Phinisee was steady, strong and crafty with the ball in his hands, finishing with six points, five assists and five steals.

But Tuesday night belonged to another freshman — a debut performance from Langford years in the making.

“Emotions were high,” Langford said. “Couldn’t wait — all of our freshmen — just to get out here, get our first game under our belt. Felt real good.”

14 comments

    1. H4H,
      Agree that Phinisee is going to be great, but I see one major problem for this team if it can’t be corrected, free throws. Can’t go very far on 57.6% by the team. This atrocious stat comes on a night when the competition didn’t even challenge. What happens when the competition gets better on you are under pressure to hit the FT? I have concerns about CAM on this one, same problem last year and it never corrected. Now we see it starting again this year, where’s the FT specialist to work with the team? RL has got his work cut out for him too, 45% at the line won’t help at the next level.

      1. 1st game for RL and the rest of the Frosh so I’ll give them a pass for the failed charity shots. Ex-Crean ballers on the roster weren’t deadeyes for him led by DD. So there could be something flukie inherent between their ears. CAM and staff by B1G season will have FT’s moving in the right direction.

      2. Sometimes ‘pressure’ helps certain types of ballers/scorers convert at the charity stripe. The absence of pressure creates a break in mental focus(or a somewhat lackadaisical approach).

        Anderson, Phinisee and Romeo don’t look like the nervous types. In big moments, I believe they will deliver.

  1. Impressive win against a team that was 1-29 last season (div 1) with an RPI of 339. We’ll see what’s what next week when Marquette brings their physical Big East game to town.

  2. Archie will bring the non-conference scheduling up….All teams schedule some soft non-conference; just not nearly as ‘Great Northern’ toilet tissue soft as Crean would do to build his personal win totals.

    Free-throw shooting. It’s been bad for many years. For multiple seasons I called to bring in Virgil Sweet. We can bring in strength coaches. Sure don’t know why we can’t bring in a free-throw specialist. Virgil is likely too old now…but he could have fixed it. Some of it is mental. Some is mechanical.
    Often, a few repetitive routines/steps will begin to correct the mental side. Virgil was all about approach, mechanics, and routine. His h.s. teams broke all national records for proficiency/conversion at the charity stripe. There was one season when the entire team nearly shot a collective 80% from the stripe.
    Bottom Line: This team already has far better shooters than anything from the Crean era(outside of Hulls). Fitzner has a lovely stroke. Anderson, Phinisee and Langford will improve as the typical anxiety and early season adrenalin is controlled and steadied.
    This will be a very good shooting team.

    Very high hopes for this bunch. Impressed with the new guards. Romeo is phenomenal. Hoping Smith gets more aggressive with his game. Fitzner is already looking fully acclimated to what Archie wants.

  3. Anderson out of South Bend Riley has a level of controlled speed to his game that has also been absent for many years. Bobby Wilkerson-esque.

    This was my first real full look at most of the new freshmen….and, I must say, I don’t think I’ve been this pleased for decades. And Anderson, Phinisee, McRoberts, Taylor, Vijay, Romeo…ALL from the Hoosier state! Justin Smith from nearby Chicago…Hunter out of Ohio.
    Thank you, Archie. Banners, bitches!

    1. MARK YOUR CALENDAR!

      Tues, November 27, @ Duke. Prepare to watch Indiana stun a soon to be #1 Duke in Durham.

      This just in….

      Indiana is no longer a pipeline to NBA roulette projects and Jersey shores. Now stacked with Indiana and Midwestern grit and a much higher level of talent on a roster emphasizing a stronger mix of speed and shot-making skills. And there’s Romeo. The balance of our talent is now arriving seasoned and ready. Tested talent out of far more tested high school programs.
      This is not a bench of Cody’s cousins, Austin Etherington, Jonny Marlin, Hollowell, and needless recruiting deals that were tied to A-Hope projects courtesy of Mark Adams.

      Hoosiers are back, baby! Dickie V is in the house! Archie is bringing back the spirited soul of ‘The General’….Candy stripes are gonna get some respect this year, baby. They’ll be dancin’ in March and dancin’ deep, baby. It’s good for basketball…Indiana…such a blue blood with great tradition. I think the door is finally opening for Robert Montgomery Knight to get the standing ovation he deserves…..from the thousands of Hoosier fans longing for his return. It’s just not right……Romeo, baby!

  4. If we play the sort of great defense Archie is demanding, we seem deep enough in talent to give anyone a run for their money.
    I guess we’ll find out quick enough.

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