IU take-aways: Indiana 80, No. 17 Florida State 64

Green’s freedom is for the greater good.

Before the season started, Archie Miller talked a lot about the “rope” he was going to afford Devonte Green.

It’s true that, at times, the 6-foot-3 guard’s aggressive nature teeters into out-of-control dribbles and all-too-difficult shots. But Miller believed a few frustrating moments would ultimately be outweighed by the brilliance a freer Green could deliver.

The ideal version of that free-wheeling guard was on display during Green’s career-high 30-point effort versus No. 17 Florida State. Yes, he had four turnovers. Yes, one or two of his shots didn’t look all that great.

But the total output — 10-of-15 from the floor, 5-of-7 from 3-point range, and 5-of-7 from the free throw line — was superb. With a raucous crowd behind him, Green hit big shots at critical moments, helping his Hoosiers break through a long, athletic Seminole defense.

“He rose to the level that a senior guard, in that game, you hope he’s able to do,” Miller said. “Not to get 30. But just make the plays to alleviate some of the pressure. And he made almost every single one of them for us.”

Aside from forwards Justin Smith (14 points) and Trayce Jackson-Davis (15), the Hoosiers didn’t need another double-digit scorer. Joey Brunk was just 2-of-3 from the floor. Al Durham didn’t have his best night, hitting 2-of-7.

But if players like Brunk and Durham aren’t under pressure to sink a ton of shots, and someone like freshman Armaan Franklin can just be a solid 3-of-5, the Hoosiers can settle into their respective roles and be all the better for it.

Just let Green be a little much, from time to time.

“He’s got an opportunity right now on a good team, in my opinion,” Miller said. “And we can be a team that can play with a lot of heart this year. We have a lot of different guys, I think. They can do things. But he’s sort of the head of the snake when the pressure’s on.”

The freshmen stepped up.

The early returns for Jackson-Davis and Franklin were more than solid through seven non-conference games.

Jackson-Davis, the 6-9 forward, led IU in numerous statistical categories. Franklin, the 6-4 guard, joined his roommate in the starting lineup and, more often than not, didn’t look out of place.
But the Seminoles were another level of competition in Game 8.

Could they rise to meet that level, or would it prove too far from their grasp?

Franklin quickly answered that question, knocking down a 3-pointer to cut into an early, 11-4 FSU lead. There were times where Jackson-Davis had more trouble than usual finishing at the rim, but there were other times — like on one strong, left-handed dunk — where he was just fine.

That 3 from Franklin was especially important.

“He needed a shot of confidence, too, because, like all young guys, man, you worry about getting off to a good start,” Miller said. “And you want to make a shot, and at the end of the day, coach is on me every second of the day to do this and that, and next thing you know you lose a little juice. I thought tonight he played sturdy.

“He showed some calmness to him, he competed, and this should be something that he looks at all the way down the line that says to myself, ‘I can. I belong out there.’”

As the level of competition remains steady through December, the hope is inexperienced players like Jackson-Davis and Franklin continue to show that poise.

This was a defensive win, as much as anything.

Sure, the Seminoles’ shooting numbers don’t look terrible on paper.

FSU hit 47 percent from the floor and nearly 37 percent from 3. IU had a particularly dreadful lapse in perimeter defense to start the second half, where the Seminoles came out and hit three consecutive shots from deep.

But the Hoosiers created runs by hitting shots and getting meaningful stops, back to back to back. IU had runs of 14-1 and 15-2 in the first half.

There just seemed to be a different level of intensity for the Hoosiers on that end of the floor. The crowd helped bring that out. But the opponent did, as well.

“We have taken big, big strides in the last couple games defensively,” Smith said. “This was our first time playing where we had the atmosphere, we had a bigger team that we were playing against, a lot of different players who do a lot of different things. Especially in the first half, we really rose to the challenge.

“In the second half, we kind of got away from it at the beginning, but we were able to really buckle down and get defensive stops when it really mattered the most.”

It was a true team effort on that end, but one player who really stuck out was sophomore Damezi Anderson.

The 6-7 sharpshooter wasn’t exactly known for his defense as a freshman. But he’s now one of the strongest members of the team, and he played with a level of physicality versus an imposing FSU squad.

“In this type of game, that type of size on the perimeter, you’re not going to be able to get away with three small people out there,” Miller said. “For him to be able to do his 20 minutes — and he guarded. He guarded a lot of good players and he hung in there, used his sturdy frame. He was able to really hang in there for us.”

Add the opposing coach to the list of admirers.

Miller believes in his squad.

After the game, Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton seemed to believe in the Hoosiers, as well.

“There’s no doubt that this is the best team we’ve played up till this point,” Hamilton said. Florida State was coming off of wins over Purdue and Tennessee.

“I think they are definitely a top 25, ranked team,” Hamilton added. “I think they are going to be an NCAA tournament team, and I think the fans can be very proud and happy that they are showing signs of coming back to the Hoosier style of ball they’ve been accustomed to over the years.”

Hamilton, who was an assistant at Kentucky for a dozen years, said Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall was as loud Tuesday as he could ever recall.

What’s next?

Wisconsin, 4:30 p.m. Saturday, in Madison, Wisc.

The Hoosiers have a good chance to be ranked, as Hamilton predicted, if they finish this week strong.

But they will have to compete on the road for the first time this season, opening up the conference slate versus a Wisconsin squad that has been up-and-down to start.

Losing a player of Ethan Happ’s caliber will cause that to happen. The Badgers (4-4) have turned 6-11 junior Nate Reuvers as their points leader. Guards Brad Davison and Kobe King are also scoring in double figures.

Wisconsin just dropped a 69-54 result to North Carolina State, the Badgers’ third consecutive loss.

One comment

  1. BTW, was I the only IU fan who noticed that whenever the players on the IU bench stood to applaud the team when a good play was made, Davis just sat there with a bored look on his face? Seems sad he can’t celebrate for a teammate when a positive play is made. Not one time during the game when the TV switched its attention to the bench was Davis supporting his teammates in a positive way? It really stood out to me as I watched the game. Go Hoosiers!

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