BLOOMINGTON – Indiana avoided a big upset tonight with its 76-62 victory over UC-Davis.
How it Happened
The Hoosiers struggled on offense and defense to open the game and the Aggies came out playing as if they had an upset on their minds. The usually offensively-challenged Aggies sliced and diced the Indiana defense early, building a 14-point lead midway through the first half at 24-10 and silencing a large crowd at Assembly Hall. It was a scary moment for the young Hoosiers, who were not only struggling to stop the UC-Davis attack, but were also disorganized and ineffective on offense. At one juncture of the first half, UC-Davis was shooting 67 percent and Indiana was at 29 percent.
Then, Juwan Morgan stepped up. The senior forward provided a jolt of energy to his team and the quiet home crowd, pouring in 15 consecutive Indiana points over a 4:20 span and slicing the 14-point deficit down to three. Of those 15 points, nine came on three consecutive 3-pointers, the third of which nearly collapsed the roof as the crowd roared in relief as much as excitement. When Romeo Langford buried a 3 from the corner with 3:30 remaining in the half, the Hoosiers had sliced the lead to 29-28.
It looked like Indiana could take control of the game before halftime, but the Aggies regrouped and put together a run before the end of the half, hitting three more 3-pointers to finish the half 6 of 11 from deep. The Hoosiers stayed close and Morgan threw down a big two-handed dunk at the buzzer, but UC-Davis led 38-36 at the break, despite Indiana shooting 61 percent from the field in the first half.
The halftime break did nothing to cool the Aggies off and they hit a pair of 3s early in the second half to stretch the lead back to eight at 48-40. At that juncture, UC-Davis was 8 of 14 (57 percent) from beyond the arc. At the same time, the Hoosiers were struggling to score, missing seven straight shots at one juncture, including numerous attempts close to the basket. The proverbial lid was on the rim for Indiana early in the second half.
UC-Davis went cold from there, however, missing its next four shots from the field and turning the ball over several times, all of which added up to a scoreless drought of more than four minutes. The Hoosiers didn't exactly burn the nets in this period, but they crept closer, slicing the deficit to 48-45 when Al Durham hit a free throw with 12:07 remaining, getting the crowd back on its feet.
Indiana tied it several minutes later when Langford went baseline for a twisting layup, knotting the score at 54 with barely seven minutes left. That kicked off a 10-0 run that was the biggest of the night by either side. Indiana locked it down on defense, forcing turnovers on three consecutive possessions. Langford and Morgan then buried back-to-back 3s, including one that came halfway out but snuck back in for Morgan. Suddenly the Hoosiers led by eight at 62-54 and the Aggies seemed to sag, knowing that the upset that seemed possible all night wouldn't happen. Indiana was able to cruise home and improve to 5-1.
Player of the Game: Juwan Morgan
Morgan is really the only reason the Hoosiers didn't get run out of the gym Indiana-State style in the first half. The senior forward stepped up when he was needed and scored 19 of his season-high 31 points before halftime. He contributed 10 rebounds, as well, for his third double-double of the season and second in a row. He shot 13 of 18 from the field and 5 of 7 from beyond the arc, a career-high for made 3s.
Facts and Figures
Indiana is 5-0 at home this season. ... The Hoosiers finished the game on a 28-8 run. ... Langford and Durham started after suffering injuries against UT-Arlington. Langford played (nose) played 39 minutes, while Durham (back) was in for 38. Langford had 20 points on 6 of 11 from the field. It was his third 20-point performance. ... Indiana came in No. 3 in the country in shooting percentage at 55.4 percent and shot 53 percent from the field. UC-Davis was No. 348 in the country in shooting and hit 48 percent of its shots. ... Once again, Indiana struggled somewhat from the foul line, going 14 of 21. Langford was 6 of 9. ... Center De'Ron Davis was questionable before the game and played three minutes in the first half before exiting and going to the locker room. He returned in the second and played three more minutes and had zero points. ... The teams combined for 36 turnovers, including 21 from UCD. ... T.J. Shorts II led the Aggies with 16 points. ... Freshman Rob Phinisee had just two points, but dished off eight assists for the Hoosiers.
The Hoosiers are back in action on Tuesday, traveling to Durham, N.C. to take on the No. 1 Duke Blue Devils (5-1) at Cameron Indoor Arena in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The game will tip off at 9:30 p.m. and will be broadcast on ESPN. The Blue Devils won't be No. 1 when the Hoosiers face them, owing to their loss to Gonzaga at the Maui Invitational, but they remain one of the most talented teams in the country, with three of the top five freshmen in the country, per 24/7's rankings.