Hoosiers down No. 11 Ohio State, 66-54

As the legs came out from under Ohio State’s Kaleb Wesson, the ball escaped his dribble, rolling out of bounds. Indiana forward De’Ron Davis stood over him, hands held high.

The 6-foot-10 reserve made clear no contact was made. The Buckeyes’ star big man held out his hands, shaking his head, frustrated. The crowd at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall came to its feet Saturday, applauding an unlikely hero.

Just a couple of days earlier, Davis and classmate Devonte Green were plopped on the bench, clearly down, as a comeback was made on Northwestern. In a 66-54 win over No. 11 Ohio State, Davis was providing much-needed minutes as starter Joey Brunk sat with foul trouble.

Green, for his part, drained a 3-pointer down the stretch, bringing throngs at Assembly Hall to their feet as a much-needed cushion expanded.

“I told the team after Northwestern, I’ll play five guys the whole game, it’s just gotta be the right five,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “At some point in time, productivity, attitude, commitment, effort — all those things can’t be in question when you are in the game.

“Without question, guys that are playing well and playing hard, they are going to stay in.”

To beat what Miller termed a Final Four-caliber team, the Hoosiers ended up needing everyone. They needed the initial spark of sophomore Rob Phinisee, who started for the first time in Green’s place. They needed Brunk’s physicality down low, even if some whistles took him out of service.

After threatening to drastically shorten the bench after Northwestern, Miller played every available scholarship player. And they earned their time in a marquee win.

Green, who went 0-of-6 last time out, produced 19 points on 5-of-8 shooting versus OSU.

“The game never changes,” Green said. “I mean, some days it’s good, some days it’s bad. And you’ve just got to bounce back from the bad ones. So that was the mindset I had coming into today, to the next day, and every day moving forward. I always want to have a better day than the last, bad or good.”

The twists and turns of this Big Ten season have already been numerous, but Green is a player who has dealt with his share in years prior. From shooting slumps, to last season’s three-game suspension, to being named a captain as a senior, to his 30 points versus then-No. 17 Florida State, to his absence from Wednesday’s late rally, he’s already had plenty of ups and downs.

Miller just needed Green to get back to basics.

“We just talked about it the other day, you can’t practice soft and play hard,” Miller said. “I thought for a competitive guy, for a guy who has a lot of a pride in being a good player, I thought he had taken a notch down on his daily approach to how competitive he is.

“He did a really good job yesterday in practice, he did a really good job today, and then we just wake up tomorrow and, hopefully, we’ll see him do a good job tomorrow. Because I’ll tell you, when he plays well, we’re a different team.”

When the crowd heard Phinisee’s name announced in the starting lineup during introductions, he received the loudest applause of the five. But the Hoosiers needed both Phinisee and Green to perform at key times.

Phinisee, who finished with 13 points, fired up his team and the crowd with a trifecta of first-half 3s. At one point in the second half, IU’s point guard appeared hobbled, tended to on the bench after hounding OSU’s D.J. Carton past the midcourt line in a chase for a loose ball.

But Phinisee pressed on, adding seven rebounds and four steals in a season-high 29 minutes.

“He definitely gave us a shot in the arm to start the game,” Miller said. “Perimeter firepower and perimeter shooting is something that obviously hasn’t been consistent, and we knew in the post it was maybe going to be (a) crowded floor, we were going to be doubled. Those guys got to be ready on those inside-outs, because our bigs will kick it out.

“Rob, to start the game, I thought, took a big air out of the building for our team in making those shots.”

Foul trouble dogged the Hoosiers much of the afternoon, as junior Al Durham picked up an early pair and Brunk was eventually saddled with four. But when IU needed guards to eat minutes, Green and freshman Armaan Franklin did more than just that.

When Brunk had to sit, Davis filled in for 11 minutes, helping the Hoosiers combat the physical presence of Wesson.

For two years, Miller said, IU was “mauled” by the 6-foot-9 post, but not on Saturday. Wesson scored most of his 15 points outside of the paint, going 3-of-6 from beyond the arc and adding a pair of free throws.

“When you’re dealing with him, man, you’re on an island at times, because their other players are spaced and they do a good job,” Miller said. “It’s not like you can just take one guy and put him in the middle of the paint to help. But for the first time that we’ve ever played them, we had good post defense that was able to hang in for the most part.”

IU (13-3, 3-2 Big Ten) still had significant droughts, failing to score a field goal for the final 9:57 of the first half. That faded what was an initial 25-16 lead, resulting in a 34-31 deficit going into the locker room.

But what has hurt the Buckeyes during a four-game losing streak — poor shooting — continued in the Hall. OSU (11-5, 1-4) connected on just 21.4 percent of its shots in the second half, taking the final percentage down to 32.7.

During a nearly six-minute OSU field goal drought, the Hoosiers went on a 14-1 run to reclaim a 57-46 edge. That included a dazzling layup by Green, who glided through three OSU defenders for a layup at the rim, plus a foul.

He didn’t hit the free throw — the Hoosiers were just 20-of-36 at the line — but Green wasn’t done. He hit a dagger 3 to pad a 60-50 cushion with under three minutes left.

The 6-3 senior then punctuated the day with a two-handed dunk off of a turnover, earning one final roar from the fans.

A player who was maligned one day was back to his best form in IU’s very next outing. And at his best, he’s an invaluable piece of the equation for IU.

It was a team, in general, Miller could once again express optimism about.

“Sometimes, man, in this league, it just becomes such a slugfest, you need a jolt of energy,” Miller said. “We got a good jolt of energy. Now you gotta have some humility.

“Each game that goes by is going to be 50-times harder than that one. We just gotta keep raising our intensity level and you gotta stay with it. I think this team has a chance.”

31 comments

  1. Very happy that IU won this game and that we witnessed improvement in some key areas, especially from our guard play. But what I realized while watching the game is that OSU was grossly overrated! When a home team team misses 16 free throws, making only 55% of their attempts, they deserve to lose the game. But I guess shooting 50% from the 3-point line and only producing 11 turnovers made the difference today.

    Really happy that Phinisee woke up. And Green teased us with another strong performance, making me wonder “why can’t we get this type of performance more consistently?” Given the lack of success TJD and Brunk had today, our guards won this game. But what to do about the Free Throws. It’s just so bad. IU must be one of the worst FT shooting teams in the country after today’s game.

    Hope these last two wins, even as ugly as they were, give these guys confidence going forward. They’re going to have to find a way to win a few Big Ten road games if they’re to have a chance to play in the NCAA tournament.

    1. Po,
      I agree with most of your commentary on the game. However, I would say this, even tough the big guys didn’t have as much success as normal, the effort from Brunk was great! I haven’t seen this much hustle since Zach McFloorburn before the injuries slowed him down. What Brunk lacks in talent he certainly made up for today in sheer effort.

      Glad to see Rob starting to get back into form, hopefully he has not aggravated any of his lingering injuries today. DG still continues to confound with his on again – off again routine. Just wish we could get some consistency from him. The most encouraging sign to date for this team is the slow emergence of Jerome Hunter. I don’t know if IUBB will ever get him back to what he was, but if they can, the ceiling for the program is significantly higher. We are only seeing glimpses of the skill level that was there, but they are enough to make one pine for what could have been this year and last with a healthy JH.

      Great win for the team, great win for the program, great win for CAM. Needed this one. . . now if they could just figure out how to make free throws . . .

  2. Glad to see them play hard, nice win. This team needs a week at ‘free throw remedial camp’. How any kid (any school) can be considered for a major conference basketball scholarship and be this inept at the foul line is beyond me. It’s all they’ve been doing since 5th grade.
    These guys don’t shoot at a girls’ high school level from the stripe!

  3. Rob Phinisee had a very good game…truly at the beginning of this game Phinisee looked like is old self…but did he get injury with about five minutes left in the game?? Phinisee was not the same player at the end of the game….An I hate to say it but I think this team is only as good as he plays.

  4. Hunter played a bunch. Especially in the 2nd half. Running the floor pretty well. Apparently he starting to show progress in practice. Green off the bench with minutes and rotation tightly managed works best. The D caused lots of head scratching for the Holtman and the Bucks. A demonstrative tip of the hat to Coach Miller.

  5. Through January 10th (yesterday), according to NCAA statistics, I was surprised to see that IU was ranked 192nd (out of 350) in Free Throw percentage, making only 69.3% of their attempts. I thought they would be much worse. Three Big Ten teams are worse thus far, Purdue, Rutgers and Nebraska. Ironically, IU was the 5th best team in D-1 college BB in FT attempts (401) and 11th best in FT’s made (278). Obviously, today’s performance at the line will drop IU further down the list for FT% and FT’s made.

    For 3-point percentage, IU was 300th (out of 350 teams) at 30.2% attempts made. That will improve a little bit after today. Rutgers was the only Big Ten team with a worse 3-point shooting percentage at 29.3%. If IU is to make it to the NCAA this season, Archie’s players simply must find a way to improve their 3-point and FT shooting.

  6. Great win! No idea how good Ohio State is but any win against a ranked team is good for recruiting. Glad to see Phinisee break out today!

  7. Home game. Meat of big ten is win some lose some. Justin Smith-1 for 4 shooting during IU first half run. Then later in game he was like 1 or 2 for 10 shooting. Later in game he made 2 free throws in a row after missing earlier free throws. Justin Smith should never never shoot beyond 10 or 12 feet or underneath or driving to Bucket or with less than 5 seconds on shot clock. His brain is not playing coordinated with his body and Justin plays flat. The other things IU needs to play with a poker face instead of making faces and complaining about ref calls regardless if call is right or wrong. AM should bench players for at least a play until it stops. Players need to focus that much more intensity on playing game. IU hung their hat on defense. Ohio State is over ranked but it was a good win and if IU could get similar wins on road that would be impressive. IU needs a scoring wing and a really good big man.

  8. And Jerome Hunter needs to quite laugh or celebration like it’s a big deal every time he is involved in a play. Again, poker face focus on what is going on and intensely concentrate.

    1. I dunno t,
      With what JH has been through in his life, let the young enjoy anything he is able to accomplish. I want to see that smile and laugh a whole lot more often in the coming days. If this kid can get back to where he was, it could be some happy times in the Hall.

  9. How to make more freethrows:
    Shoot the ball witha higher arch. The higher the arch, the bigger hole the ball sees to go through.
    Watch the good shooters andnotice the height of the arch on their shots.
    The lower arch makes the ball look at an flat oval as it gets to the basket so it has tobe very precise. As the arch gets bigger, the hole (oval) becomes bigger giving the ball a better chance of going through it. Going to the extreme, if you drop the ball from directly above the basket, it sees a circle to fall through. As the arch goes down, the circle becomes an oval. The flatter the arch, the flatter the oval.

    1. That’s the preferred flight of a properly placed hand/finger position/release and so on. Most of the shots these guys take, with a couple of exceptions, look like one of Saddam Hussein’s scuds or an Early Wynn ‘oofus ball’. Poor rotation or none at all. Foul shooting has been gradually deemphasized ever since the 3 pt shot. What needs to happen to all of basketball is narrow the lane and get RID of the three. It has ruined the essense of the game. A foul or penalty shot should be just that, ‘a penalty’. It needs to be made into a 1.5 point penalty shot. Everything’s digital now so no big deal. Ever watched a Houston Rocket game? If you did, you likely hit your remote within 5 minutes. It’s less basketball and more like a carnival long shooting contest. When guys give up a sure layup only to kick it out for a 3 point shot, you know something is askew.

      1. One other thing, the late Jimmy Rayl #22, all 6’1″ 160 lbs of him still holds the record for most points scored at IU in a game, multiple times at 56. He did all of this without a three point shot. I don’t want to hear that the big men will dominate and the game will be too predictable and boring. Incidentally, I believe the ‘splendid splinter’ hit about an 88% clip from the line.

  10. think. For JH Ok welcome back. Now get focused. Every time getting giddy is not required. It’s not that I don’t want him to be happy and have good time but it’s a team issue called maturity. ONCE IN A WHILE WOULD BE OK but not all the time. Especially, faces and complaining about ref calls. A lot of teams/players do. However, IU would be better if they focused on one another and what is going on in game 100% of time.

    1. Held the Bucks to 20 2nd half points. Smiles, grins and immaturity be damned. It’s fun to win.

  11. A DOCTOR IN THE HOUSE:
    Did I miss something? Did we recruit Dr. J and he arrived as Jerome Hunter? Let’s thinkaboutit, shall we?
    And speaking of ‘The Doctor’….Calling Dr. JEROME! We have a Scoop patient with a case of severe blogging amnesia (BMDS …Blogging Memory Deficiency Syndrome to be more precise) . Said patient can’t remember making many, many digs at Archie Miller (some less than 24 hours ago) while suggesting OSU made the much better hire than Indiana because the Buckeyes were so highly ranked and appeared as world beaters only a few weeks ago. Now said Scoop patient says OSU is overrated but has no aPOlogies for Archie. Calling Dr. JEROME….Calling Dr. JEROME.

    FORGOTTEN/LOST PREDICTION: Very nice win for the Hoosiers…I predicted it, but Jeremy didn’t post my comment with the score located on a different thread. I had us winning 68-65. We won. Jeremy lost…my post.

    SCHEDULE: Accumulate them there wins now…because mid February to late February is brutal. @ Michigan, @ Minnesota, Penn State, @ Purdue, @ Illinois. The “upside”(courtesy: Tom Crean) is that we only play Michigan and Michigan State once each. We have the better of the two, MSU, at home. Final game of regular conference play brings the Badgers to Bloomington. Hope we still have the taste of Madison blue cheese in our mouths at that time.

    BUCKEYES: OSU is NOT overrated. I repeat. They are not currently overrated (maybe just a thad ….but it really doesn’t matta in early January of a young conference season). They were actually overrated at the beginning of the season (as were many teams…as I pointed out in many of my comments…But OSU is still a very good team). The Buckeyes will be strong down the stretch and will bounce back from their current 1-4 conference record. They’ve had the toughest early conference match-ups and things will set up more favorably for them in the latter portions of the season.

    Calling Dr. J. Calling Dr. Jerome….Dr. Jerome of Scoop General Hospital…We have a Scoop patient who is currently in the women’s wing who is having trouble smiling. Patient refers to herself/himself as ‘t’ and says he “loves the General” but refuses treatment. When you’re done with your amnesia patient could you please report to the desk?

    Ta-ta.

  12. I would give the game ball to Brunk….I think we have a leader. Jovial without being cocky. Gives 110% every minute he is on the floor.
    I don’t know what some of you are missing, but his game is improving. His reaction speed is better. He’s seemingly cured most of the happy/hopping/anxious feet which stymied his timing for boards and put-backs. He’s been a force. He’s defended extremely well. He rarely turns the ball over. He’s crisp….And speaking of crisp, he hungrily gobbles up boards as if they were Triscuit Thin Crisps.

  13. Early season rankings? Holtmann and OSU may have been a thad overrated, but it just doesn’t matta.

    Repeat after me….

  14. This is the team that beat us in the Big Ten tourney last year, with even more talent.

    THIS is a big win & will prove even bigger going forward. We’re very, very lucky not to be going to Columbus anytime soon. They have all of the tools.

    But today, we win & we protect the home turf. Congrats to these guys who played hard for 40 min. Ironic that 3 dudes that made the difference were Phinisee, Hunter & Green| I’ll take that every game & see where the dust settles in March.

    1. OSU shot 21.43% fg and 14.29% 3pt in the second half.

      Wow…That might end up being their season low. Says something about our defense in that second half. Left way too many points at the free throw line …but our defensive tenacity was pretty damn impressive.

  15. Net rating surged to #37 from #55.

    We’ve lost @ MD (#18), @ WI (#27) & Ark (#25)….maybe we’re not so bad after all. I guess we’ll see @ Rutgers (#26).

  16. The term for a team that is “not so bad” and “not so good” is mediocre. Through this point in the season, IU is mediocre. But I’m hoping that the win against OSU gives this team a collective boost of confidence and a clear vision for how to go from mediocre to good. No doubt they could be good if they learn how to make more shots from 3-point range and convert more free throws.

    1. “not so bad” is in reference to all of the naysayers on this blog that think this team and Archie Miller are doomed. Every time we throw up a dud, the world is coming to an end for many.

      But your point is valid. We are not elite and this team won’t be elite. It doesn’t have the tools. We can lose to anybody, anywhere. We can also beat almost everybody anywhere, especially in this league. The same applies to 10 of the 14 teams in this league. If that is mediocre to you then so be it. I still believe that we’re in the top 1/2 of this league. If we play D like we did Sat., I’d move us to upper tier of the middle 6 teams. Look at the Big Ten standings. 3-2 looks damn good about now.

      We’re 2-1 in a stretch where we need to go 5-3. Rutgers will be no picnic. They are ranked 12th in defensive efficiency based on pts. allowed per game. This one will be another ugly one, win or lose.

      1. Was the Loyola of Chicago team that made it to a Final Four an “elite” team?
        Was last year’s Texas Tech team an “elite” team?
        Was our last Hoosier team under Mike Davis making it to a championship game…an “elite” team?

        I would guess many called them “mediocre” at certain points in the season.

        You just never know how things will end up. It’s hard to predict when/if talent turns into a team firing on all cylinders. There’s a lot of luck in the equations as well….Being under the radar isn’t always a bad thing. It’s not like the candy stripes and having the most banners of any team in the conference isn’t already the forever motivator of any crowd/team we encounter on the road. We may perceive ourselves as irrelevant but it never seems to feel that way when we go on the road. We still bring the opposing packed and deafening crowds.
        The candy stripes have always been giant targets on backs no matter our current “elite” or “relevant” status. The ‘Indiana’ name is still a pretty big deal…It comes with many challenges including keeping kids grounded who somehow believe the mere donning of the uniform means they’re instantly as important as the old bad memories the candy stripes still bring to the arenas of our opposition.

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