Friday, February 09, 2018 8:50 pm
Halftime thoughts: Indiana 39, Minnesota 29
DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette
BLOOMINGTON – Before the game I wrote that if Indiana had truly improved, it would come out with a lot of energy, propelled by an enthusiastic crowd. Well, the crowd was less than enthusiastic. In fact, it was pretty subdued for an Assembly Hall crowd. No matter, the Hoosiers brought their own energy and jumped on the Golden Gophers from the beginning.
The MVP of the half was Devonte Green, who got his second straight start in place of Josh Newkirk. When Minnesota made a run after a quick Indiana start, Green hit back-to-back triples to keep his team in front. The sophomore finished with 17 points in the half on four triples.
Green also continued making good passes (others not so much) and it was contagious as the Hoosiers moved the ball early better than they have all season.
Indiana had 10 assists on 13 made field goals, while shooting 50 percent from the field. It was as impressive an offensive start as the Hoosiers have had in recent memory. At one point the score was 20-8, with Green having totaled as many points as the entire Gophers team.
The defensive effort was almost as impressive, especially for freshman Justin Smith. After he came off the bench to give Freddie McSwain a rest, he drew the difficult assignment of guarding Jordan Murphy, the bulldog of a Minnesota big man that leads the conference in rebounding. With solid help defense from Morgan and Zach McRoberts, Smith held his own against Murphy, keeping him away from the rim and (mostly) off the boards. Archie Miller has harped on Smith's rebounding lately, saying it needs to improve, and the freshman grabbed three boards in 10 minutes in the first half.
As I said before the game, Indiana should beat Minnesota. The Hoosiers are the better team right now and they've shown it this half. The only time the offense really stagnated was the brief period when Newkirk replaced Green on the floor. The sophomore has clearly supplanted the senior at this point and Indiana is a better team because of it. If Green's hitting shots, Indiana has that all-important third scorer (outside of Morgan and Robert Johnson) that it's been looking for all season.