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  • Associated Press Indiana guard Curtis Jones is fouled by Indianapolis forward Devin Dixon during the Hoosiers' exhibition game Sunday.

Monday, November 06, 2017 1:00 am

Indiana 74 Indianapolis 53

Lineup unclear with IU on mend

Closes out preseason with convincing win

CHRIS GOFF | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON – At least in exhibition play, Indiana appears settled on a starting lineup.

Robert Johnson, Juwan Morgan, De'Ron Davis, Devonte Green and Josh Newkirk started Sunday in the Hoosiers' exhibition finale, a 74-53 win over Indianapolis, just as they did in IU's other exhibition game, a 93-62 victory against Marian on Oct. 28.

However, coach Archie Miller cautioned not to assume this group of five is permanent entering Friday's season opener at home against Indiana State.

“We'll look at it this week,” Miller said. “We'll look at last week's practice statistics. We'll look at this game on the film, and we'll see what direction (to take). We have been hampered by not having Collin (Hartman) and Al (Durham) available.”

Hartman (ankle) and Durham (hamstring) sat out against Marian but played Sunday. Hartman, a senior forward, had nine points in 15 minutes, and Durham, a freshman guard, had two points in 11 minutes. Each figures to be in the Hoosiers' rotation when Miller gets a better feel for how deep his new team can go and who gives IU the best chance to win.

“Al was on a 10-minute restriction,” Miller said. “He was only going to play about 10 minutes, so Al probably would have played another 5-7 minutes if I could have. The rotation is going to be something that's going to be tinkered with and played with most of the season, I think, and my hope is that we have some guys emerge and feel like they keep competing and working toward getting on the floor more.”

One such player is 6-foot-7 forward Justin Smith, who was the most highly rated of IU's incoming freshmen. After seeing 14 minutes against Marian, Smith played only eight minutes Sunday. He didn't enter until 2:17 remained in the first half and, after playing the remainder of that half, didn't check in again until 5:48 remained in the blowout.

“I think that our young guys, maybe even Justin and Clifton (Moore), who aren't playing as much right now, (could emerge),” Miller said. “I have seen guys in that same role by February play double-figure minutes for you at certain times if things aren't going right.”

The preseason was mostly smooth. Indiana's 3-point shooting (15 for 42, 35.7 percent) wasn't great, but the ball security was sharp. IU had only 18 combined turnovers in the two exhibition games.

Defensively, the Hoosiers showed an up-and-down tendency, although Indianapolis shot just 41 percent and Marian 39 percent.

“I still think we're far away from where we need to be,” said Robert Johnson, who led IU on Sunday with 18 points and five rebounds. “I think for where we're at right now, we definitely have a good base to start at, but we definitely need to improve moving forward.”

One of Miller's tasks moving forward is to settle on lineups and a rotation.

“We're going to have to play it by ear here,” Miller said. “I think, as the game gets moving on, I (must get) more comfortable knowing who I want to put in and keep in and who I need to get out when I need to get out.”

cgoff@jg.net