IU take-aways: Indiana 89, Iowa 77

This version of Devonte Green is a game-changer.

Green’s senior season has been much like the three that preceded it.

When the 6-foot-3 guard is down, it’s a frustrating hodgepodge of misfired passes and runners that fall short. But when he’s up, the results are spectacular.

So there’s an instinct to write off this 27-point performance like all the others: It’s a flash in the pan. It’s not something the Hoosiers can count on. Let’s move on.

But for an IU team fighting for its first NCAA tournament berth in four years, Green’s outburst is everything this team needs. It’s the kind of performance that takes an average offensive team and makes it good, or even great.

Naturally, IU coach Archie Miller is still searching for ways to get this kind of effort out of Green consistently. He mused postgame about the presence of Green’s brother, Danny, in the stands, wondering if that had anything to do with it.

“I was just talking to his brother, Danny, in the locker room, see if he could skip the regular season for the Lakers and see if he could hang around here a little bit. See if that helped,” Miller joked. “He said he couldn’t. Maybe we can FaceTime him every day, I don’t know.”

Of course, Green was asked about his brother’s presence and said, emphatically, it didn’t have any effect. That wasn’t surprising, either, as the younger Green has been trying to escape his brother’s shadow for years.

Miller is just hoping Green can escape the shadow of his own inconsistent past, which, in his opinion, has everything to do with how the Hoosiers’ senior guard approaches preparation.

“Sometimes he’s frustrated. But I think it carries over into the everyday process with him that ‘I’m not playing real well right now.’ … He doesn’t have that fire where he just comes flying out the next day like ‘Here I come,’” Miller said. “I wish he had that. … This week, after the Purdue game, I think we all felt like, obviously, not very good. And I think he took the approach this week, like, ‘My team needs me.’

“And he stepped up and did a good job leading into the game, not just tonight.”

Green’s effort helped push IU to its fourth home win over a ranked team this season. Three of those included spectacular showings from Green, including 30 points versus Florida State and 19 on Ohio State.

With there being a home meeting with No. 13 Penn State sandwiched between pairs of road contests, IU could use a few more good days from Green.

“We don’t really have time for him to be feeling this thing out,” Miller said. “He’s got to hit the afterburners here and try to push through for us.”

If Green is the X-factor, Race Thompson is Y.

In comparison with Green’s stat line, the redshirt sophomore forward’s career-high 10 points to go with four rebounds and two blocks don’t necessarily jump off the page.

But it’s all the little things Thompson brings to the floor that truly matter. It’s posting up against Luka Garza on the defensive end, and for one, brief moment, walling up the Hawkeyes’ star center. It’s hustling for loose balls, and up the floor in transition, pushing the pace.

There’s an energy and a scrappiness Thompson brings to the floor, an essential element for a team that hasn’t always had an edge about it. And that effort did translate into one stat: Thompson was the Hoosiers’ leader in plus-minus Thursday, registering a plus-16 in his 25 minutes on the floor.

“I thought I’d come in with more time on the floor, just keep gaining more confidence,” Thompson said. “I know everybody believes in me, but it’s some self-talk, too.”

Along with the jump in offensive production from redshirt freshman Jerome Hunter in recent games, the trend line for Thompson was also encouraging, until he was knocked out by a hard fall versus Michigan State, missing the first three games in a four-game losing streak.

Miller doesn’t think Thompson was 100 percent in his return versus Purdue, but he looked like himself versus Iowa. He also added versatility in the front court, either as a four alongside IU’s traditional bigs or as a smaller five, making Garza’s life only the slightest bit more difficult.

“Sometimes, when you get out and you get knocked out, it takes a while to get back,” Miller said. “But he’s back, which is important.”

And yes, Trayce Jackson-Davis is still good.

All the while, IU’s leading scorer was in top form.

The 6-foot-9 freshman ran the floor in transition for a one-handed dunk. He used the space Green helped open up for him, executing a clever move in the post for a two-handed slam. He was also on his game as a rim protector, swatting away a pair of shots.

Jackson-Davis has, without question, been the Hoosiers’ best player this season, but even he has been susceptible to inconsistencies. He was 2-of-7 from the floor versus Purdue until a couple of late buckets.

Some ups and downs were expected of a freshman in his first Big Ten season. He could still develop a more consistent right-handed finish, as well as some reliable range out to 16 feet. Physically, he can still become stronger and more formidable as a post defender.

But his comfort level with being the top name on every scouting report seems to be growing.

“I think his game is maturing,” Green said. “He sees the double teams coming earlier, knows how to escape them better. And he knows when to be physical and when to attack or be strong around the rim.

“But, I mean, he’s still growing. And I see it every day. And game by game, you can see it develop.”

What’s next?

Michigan, 1 p.m. Sunday, at Crisler Center

The Wolverines (15-9, 6-7 Big Ten) had a rough start to the conference season, dropping six out of their first eight games. But they’ve just won four of their last five, including victories over Rutgers and Michigan State.

Michigan’s four losses at home may seem like a lot for this year’s Big Ten, too, but that includes a three-point defeat to Ohio State and a two-point margin with Illinois. So don’t expect it to be extraordinarily easy in Ann Arbor.

Defensively, the Wolverines pose challenges with their balance. They have five players averaging double figures scoring. Zavier Simpson, the senior guard, is also one of the best distributors in the country at 8 assists per game.

7 comments

  1. I’m not going to write a post here stating that I believe that Archie Miller is reading my posts and acting accordingly (even though, as many of you might recall, I applied for the position of I.U. Coach on this site a couple of years ago…never heard from Fred Glass and – obviously- was not hired).

    However, I just want to reiterate that prior to the Iowa game it was me (accused of ‘hijacking’ the prediction by H4h) that stated that “the surprise will be that Devonte Green leads us to victory.”

    And this is exactly the sentiment that Archie has bought into! Well, about time is all I can say!! Better late than never (1981 for example).

    Is this game tomorrow on CBS? I sure hope so because the nation is going to witness the new, improved, Hoosiers.

    No prediction on the result forthcoming from The ROCK. But I will say that I ‘scouted’ the Michigan/Northwestern game and neither of those teams looked like something to fear.

    Go Big Red.

  2. yeah, it’s on CBS. Michigan has a new Coach this year, and their best player is coming off of a groin injury. An interesting aside: One of their players (a guard!) has an older brother who is an NBA player (Moritz Wagner, Washington Wizards).

  3. You are very sneaky (dare I say “dirty?”), Rock. I never claimed you stole any prediction concerning Green’s game. My claim was that you stole my prediction of the outcome and how we’d easily handle Iowa. See below…Notice how my post (predicting we’d win by 15 points was a day earlier than your own (which came on a later thread?

    Harvard for Hillbillies says (Thread: Miller questions Hoosiers’ passion, togetherness, Feb 10, 2020):
    February 11, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    I believe we’ll make Garza look like a clod….He’ll brick all night. He’ll get in foul trouble and we’ll see Luka Bazooka with no ammo chewing bubblegum on the bench.

    Hoosiers 79
    Iowa 64

    Log in to Reply

    The ROCK says (Thread: Garza leads high-scoring Iowa into Assembly, Feb 12, 2020) Hall:
    February 12, 2020 at 11:59 am

    ??? WhaaaaaT? Now it’s the FAN’S fault for the lack of enthusiasm? Give me a break.

    Actually, I think the referees will give me a break and call at least 2 fouls on this Garza character who I’ve so enjoyed watching in Iowa’s OTHER games this year. He tends to foul a lot, and I’m guessing (nay, predicting) that anytime he comes CLOSE to our # 4 that’s a foul.

    He’ll not play more than 15 minutes of this upcoming game, and we’ll win by 15.

    Beat Iowa. They have no right to win in Assembly Hall.

    Summary: On Feb. 11th, I posted this Final Score prediction: Hoosiers 79, Iowa 64. (Notice the 15 point spread? 79-64 = 15)

    On Feb 12th, you posted a prediction that we would win by 15.
    Good prediction on Green having a great game…but I had us winning by 15 a day prior to you predicting the exact point difference/outcome.

    I predicted nada concerning Green. Below is my “accusation” of you hijacking my prediction of us winning by 15 (along with some predictions concerning Garza in which we were both completely wrong).

    Harvard for Hillbillies says:
    February 12, 2020 at 12:43 pm

    Now, Rock…If you’re gonna steal/hijack that prediction….then that’s not team ball. Isn’t that our Hoosier basketball team’s issue? Teaching moment…teaching moment.
    Reply

  4. Wow, you are absolutely correct, H4h! I apologize. I had not read your post accurately…will be more careful in the future. Sincerely, The ROCK

  5. I could see how you thought differently… Jeremy doesn’t get my posts up on the threads very quickly sometimes (constant moderation…because I’m still considered a menace) so you probably believed me to be referencing something else.

    No apology needed…I was mainly just joking around when I accused you of stealing my score prediction ( a prediction you probably never saw because my post likely was waiting in moderation limbo for 6-8 hours).

    Just for the future….If you want to see my comments (why anyone would want to do such a thing long after a thread has died down in interest is beyond me) you have to backtrack through a thread. Often my comments don’t go into the “recent comments” sidebar…Jeremy approves them and simply places them based on the original time I typed my comment.

    Sincerely, The Scoop Menace (a.k.a. He Who is Banned from Live Participation and Timely Interaction with Other Scoopers…a.k.a. Harvard for Hillbillies).

    P.S. Good call on your prediction with Green having a big day against Iowa.
    Green impressed me considerably (even more than his game performance) by how he conducted himself in the postgame interviews after being verbally assaulted by that idiot reporter from the Indy Star. I won’t mention the reporter’s name…Anyone so unprofessional deserves no name recognition. I became a bigger fan of Green by how he kept himself composed. I would be very challenged to keep my cool…

  6. I’m gonna go way out on a limb and say Brunk has a strong game today. I think Brunk’s style of play matches up against Michigan far more than our previous three or four opponents.

    Out of our remaining four road games, I believe today’s game @ Michigan to be our most probable shot at a road win ….I would consider this game to be a must-win.

    Indiana 72
    Michigan 70

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