Sunday, November 12, 2017 10:40 pm
Freshmen lead Hoosiers past Bison
CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette
BLOOMINGTON — In the final days of college basketball's interminable offseason, Collin Hartman might have called the shot.
Indiana's senior forward was breaking down one of the Hoosiers' September workouts, and, as he assessed a "very, very talented" freshman class, added, "They've all listened really well and been sponges."
Hartman apparently did not offer empty praise. Two members of the Hoosiers' first-year club made the plays that mattered most Sunday night in an 86-77 victory over Howard as Archie Miller got his first win as the IU coach.
Four-star prospect Justin Smith finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while fellow freshman Al Durham scored 16 points and played a big role in the Hoosiers' defensive effort that hounded the Bison into 36 percent shooting.
Some of it wasn't pretty, particularly Indiana's 12-of-29 mark on free throws, but it sure beat the alternative after the Hoosiers were crushed by Indiana State, 90-69, in Friday's season opener.
Howard (0-2) received 27 points and eight assists from freshman point guard R.J. Cole and remained competitive throughout a first half that ended with Indiana in front 37-27.
Assembly Hall's murmuring died down early in the second half when the home team built a 15-point advantage, and the lead grew as large as 18, but the undersized opponent from the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference clawed back within nine with 3:10 to play.
Indiana (1-1) closed out the win with addition contributions from De'Ron Davis (17 points, six rebounds) and Robert Johnson (14 points) while point guard Josh Newkirk finished with nine points and seven assists.
One situation to watch entering Indiana's next game, Wednesday at Seton Hall, involves starting forward Juwan Morgan. He played only five minutes before leaving because of an apparent injury and did not return.