Morgan posts 2nd triple-double in IU history; Hoosiers drub Jacksonville 94-64

Johnny Jager juggled dual roles Saturday night, working as a reserve guard on the end of Indiana’s bench, while also functioning as the team’s unofficial statistician.

As IU’s non-conference finale grew late, and Juwan Morgan’s place in IU lore inched within reach, Jager kept the Indiana senior forward updated on where he stood in his pursuit of Hoosier history.

“He told me I only needed two more assists to get to 10,” Morgan recalled. “One more basket.”

Morgan took note.

Point by point, assist by assist, board by board, Morgan gradually and methodically worked his way into the record book, posting only the second triple-double in Indiana history during the Hoosiers’ 94-64 drubbing of Jacksonville at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Morgan finished with 10 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists, helping IU (11-2) to its sixth straight victory in an emphatic, all-hands-on-deck triumph to close the non-conference slate.

“It means a lot,” Morgan said. “A triple-double is very hard to come by. You don’t see too many people do that. This is the second one in school history. I really don’t know what to say.”

What said it all was the standing ovation offered by the announced crowd of 14,975 as Morgan subbed out for a final time with six minutes remaining. This was an achievement to savor, a highlight performance in what was otherwise a throwaway, pre-holiday tuneup before IU’s players scatter for a brief Christmas break.

Not only was it merely the second triple-double in program history, it was an accomplishment Hoosiers haven’t seen since Feb. 23, 1971. Late in the 1970-71 season, Steve Downing totaled 28 points, 17 rebounds and 10 blocks in an 88-79 win over Michigan at the IU Fieldhouse.

For 47 years, it was the lone triple-double — The Triple-Double — in the annals of IU basketball.

Until Saturday.

“I didn’t realize it until we had the (under-8 media timeout) where he was two points away,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “We drew up a play underneath, out of bounds to make sure he got it.”

Indeed, the final piece to Morgan’s statistical feat was a basket — a tribute to the even-handedness with which he approached Saturday’s contest.

Morgan’s impact was felt from the earliest moments, and his first four minutes — during which he scored two points, pulled down three boards, blocked two shots and dished an assist — were a sign of things to come. By the 10-minute mark of the first half, Morgan had six points, five rebounds, four assists, three blocks and a steal.

And on he went.

In addition to his triple-double, Morgan’s three blocks tied his season high. He also produced his 10 points on a 5-for-5 shooting line, and has now shot a combined 28-of-34 from the field across the last four games.

“Guys were definitely going to try to get him the deal,” Miller said. “I think that’s an incredible accomplishment to do that. At Indiana, so few people have done it. You have to be an unbelievable, complete guy to be able to be that type of efficiency. Took five shots in the game, you know what I mean? You can tell he completely dominated with his unselfish play.”

To seal the deal, Morgan connected on an inbounds lob from Devonte Green for his fifth field goal of the night.

“(Miller) said he wanted to get another triple-double,” Morgan said. “So he called that up and we executed it.”

Perhaps most impressive about Morgan’s night was his ability to pile up 10 assists, the first of which should be remembered as one of the prettiest of his career.

Leading the Hoosiers on the break, Morgan chucked a perfect, one-bounce pass to Justin Smith, who skied past three Jacksonville defenders for Indiana’s second basket of the game.

Was it the best pass Morgan has ever dished?

“Top three,” he said with a smile.

For a team that, at times, struggled to establish offensive connectivity throughout the non-conference season, Morgan served as one of the few constants. With a rotation full of young players and mix-and-match lineups necessitated by injuries, Morgan has time and again welcomed the role that has been placed upon him.

“He goes out of his way to play the right way,” Miller said. “To me he doesn’t really care how many points he scores. I think Juwan is looking at the big picture, saying, ‘This is my last go, I want to have the best possible season as I can, I want to be remembered for a heck of a run as a senior,’ (and) a good two-year run with us.

“He has kind of changed the complexion of not only his own game, his own reputation. He’s had an opportunity to have a real big imprint on this group. He’s a coachable guy, plays the right way. Good things are going to come to him.”

Beyond Morgan, IU finished with four other double-figure scorers. Al Durham posted a career-high 18 points, while Romeo Langford added 15 points and Justin Smith and Devonte Green each scored 13 points. It was well-rounded production on a night when the Hoosiers were once again short-handed.

Both Rob Phinisee (concussion) and Zach McRoberts (back) were unavailable, nursing respective injuries before IU’s 11-day break between games.

Indiana created separation while Jacksonville went seven minutes without a basket during the first half, then opened the second period with six quick points. Saturday ended as both a runaway victory and a reminder of what this Indiana team features in its frontcourt — one of the nation’s top seniors.

Morgan is a player willing and able to bend his game to suit what Indiana needs, whether through scoring or the other little things that add up to victory.

Indiana’s non-conference finale was simply the latest example.

“You just see all the hard work come into the light really,” Durham said. “He’s a hard worker. He does everything for us. He’s just a great guy. I feel like, if anybody, he deserves this. It’s an honor to be a part of it with him.”

9 comments

  1. While Jacksonville is not Duke, that is an astounding performance. In the process of getting a triple double he had a perfect night shooting.

    Juwan is such a stud basketball player.

  2. Only December 23rd….Hard to imagine how dangerous we can be by March.
    Justin Smith starting to play a little closer to ability matching production. Morgan already looking in late season form.
    Romeo turning every NBA scout into Juliet.
    Green gradually finding his appropriate tempo and role.
    Phinisee already demonstrating an incredible b-ball IQ and a maturity beyond his freshman level.
    Shooting percentages picking up….

    Oh, and we finally have a coach; a coach who is a great teacher emanating calm and steady leadership. That was sort of important to mention.

  3. The Rock, your comment on Phinisee is right on, after attending the Jacksonville game the flow in the offense wasn’t there with without Phinisee.

    1. Really? I thought the passing was improved. Twenty one assists to 12 turnovers. That’s better than the Marquette game.

      Taking nothing away from Phinisee. He is vital.

  4. My guess is that Steve Downing will do his best to quickly congratulate Juwan on the triple double.

    None finer to emulate than Steve Downing. We should all be most proud of how Morgan plays the game. He exudes many of the same qualities which made Downing someone who captured the adulation of a young lad now this old dinosaur. It’s those with enough integrity and unrelenting spirit as Morgan who preserve a team game where nearly any five unknown can take down five disjointed components flawed in the comforts of their own individual superiority.

    1. I think one is far more imperative than the other…..but being able to rotate in Green does allow for needed rest or sitting due to foul trouble for Romeo and Phinisee. Damezi and Durham add ample depth. I don’t think we lost much when Green was sidelined.
      And I don’t want erratic tendencies in crunch time. I prefer Phinisee in bigger end-of-game moments running this team. I’m pretty sure Archie wants the same choice.

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