BLOOMINGTON -- Devonte Green scored 19 points and had two huge second half 3-pointers and Robert Phinisee added 13 points to help Indiana pull a huge upset at Assembly Hall, beating No. 11 Ohio State 66-54 today.
Field goal droughts hurt: Indiana has made a habit in recent weeks of having its offense just disappear for long stretches without much explanation. It happened against Arkansas and Notre Dame as the Hoosiers let big leads slip away, and it happened against Maryland as the Terrapins pushed their lead to 30 points. Today, Indiana went without a field goal for the final 9:57 of the first half, missing a whopping 13 straight attempts to end the half. The stretch saw Ohio State turn a nine-point deficit into a 34-31 halftime lead, erasing much of the confidence Indiana had gained from a strong offensive start. It's hard to pinpoint exactly what has caused the Hoosiers to go for such long stretches with so little offense other than just a general inability to hit shots. During that rough patch today, Indiana turned the ball over just twice. Of course, Ohio State is one of the better defensive teams in the country (the Buckeyes came in giving up only 59.8 points per game), so that obviously had something to do with it. To their credit, the Hoosiers continued to play defense during that 10-minute drought, but it's a lot more difficult to bring intensity on that side of the court when bricks are piling up on the other end.
The Hoosiers have some pride: Archie Miller made some pointed comments about the Hoosiers' effort level and consistency after the win over Northwestern, noting, "If you're not ready to go on Saturday, that's a problem." Indiana seemed to respond to the challenge, having two good days of practice (by Miller's own account) before coming out and playing with as much effort and toughness as they've shown all year. It helped that an early offensive flurry helped to get the Assembly Hall crowd in the game and the Hoosiers fed on that energy, but it was also refreshing to see Indiana flying around on defense and getting back to working hard on the boards. They took an early lead by outworking the Buckeyes and weathered the huge first-half field-goal drought by continuing to work on the defensive end. This can't be a one-game blip, however. The Hoosiers need to bring this level of effort every night and find a way to take it on the road with them going forward.
Make your foul shots: Miller has talked a lot this year about getting to the free-throw line being part of Indiana's identity. The Hoosiers came into the game shooting 26.5 foul shots per game, more than any other team in the country, and got to the line 36 times today. For a team that is prone to offensive droughts (as detailed above), getting to the line for some easy points can be hugely important. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, foul shots have not meant easy points recently. Indiana only made 20 of its free-throw attempts today (an abysmal 56%) and have shot worse than 62% at the line in four of their last five games. This was a theme all of last season, too (the Hoosiers ranked 329th in the country in free-throw percentage at 65.5%) and there's really no excuse for it.
Player of the game: Rob Phinisee
Phinisee made his first start of the season after starting 29 games as a freshman and made the most of his opportunity. The sophomore guard got the Hoosiers off to a fast start with three 3-pointers in the first four minutes and then gave his team the lead with another long jumper early in the second half. He handled the ball well as the point guard and added seven rebounds and four steals to his point total.
Facts and figures
Indiana is 2-1 against top 25 teams this season and 7-14 under Archie Miller. ... Green came off the bench. The Hoosiers were without sophomore Damezi Anderson, who was sick. ... The Hoosiers came in shooting 23.8% from 3-point range during the last seven games, but went 6 for 12 from beyond the arc. They shot 41% overall against an Ohio State team that entered the game fourth in the country in opponent field-goal percentage at 36.3%. The Buckeyes shot 33%. ... Trayce Jackson-Davis came in eighth in the Big Ten in scoring (15.2 points per game) and ninth in rebounding (8.2 per contest). He finished with six points and three boards. ... Indiana center Joey Brunk played for Ohio State coach Chris Holtmann when both were at Butler. ... Indiana celebrated a Basketball Alumni Day at halftime, with All-American Alan Henderson addressing the crowd and encouraging the fans to stay behind their team.
The Hoosiers are back in action Wednesday when they travel to Piscataway, New Jersey, to take on Rutgers (12-3, 3-1 Big Ten) at the Rutgers Athletic Center. The game will tip off at 7 p.m. and be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. Long a Big Ten doormat, the Scarlet Knights are enjoying their best season in 15 years, already boasting victories over Penn State, Wisconsin and Seton Hall. They've won six in a row entering a Saturday afternoon matchup with Illinois.