The Journal Gazette
 
 
Saturday, December 15, 2018 6:40 pm

No. 25 Indiana beats Butler 71-68 at Crossroads Classic, Phinisee hits buzzer-beater

INDIANAPOLIS –

How it Happened

The game was tied with 22 seconds left and Indiana got a final possession. On that last trip down the court, the Hoosiers tried to get the ball to Romeo Langford, but the Butler defense was ready. On a broken play, Robert Phinisee had to make something happen and he threw up a 35-footer at the buzzer. The ball hit nothing but the net and the Hoosiers danced off with a victory.

Butler opened the first half as the aggressor on offense and defense and Indiana was a little tentative against the Bulldogs' pressure. The Hoosiers settled for too many outside shots in the early going and Butler built a sizable lead that it held throughout the first half.

The lead was 25-16 for the Bulldogs midway through the first half and the (mostly) anti-Indiana crowd was very loud. It looked like Butler might extend the advantage to double digits as the Hoosiers continued to tread water, but senior Juwan Morgan stepped up and kept his team in it with a brilliant stretch in which he scored seven consecutive points on a pair of tough layups and a 3-pointer. For the second straight year, Morgan exploded in the Crossroads Classic, scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting in the first half to keep the Hoosiers close.

As the half wore on, the Hoosiers began to force the issue at the basket and crept closer as their shooting percentage climbed higher. Romeo Langford was quiet early in the game, but scored his first basket with 5:38 to play in the opening half and finished the half with seven points. Down the stretch, Indiana knocked down four straight shots to make it only a 38-34 Butler lead as the teams went into the locker rooms.

Out of the break, the Bulldogs again opened with more energy. Before the under-16 timeout, Butler had opened a 10-point lead thanks to a 6-0 run and a scoring drought of more than three minutes for the Hoosiers. Butler was simply knocking down open shots as Indiana's team defense was not as strong as it had been in recent games.

Indiana wouldn't go away, however, and Morgan helped the Hoosiers climb back into the game. The forward drained a pair of 3-pointers in quick succession from the same corner, drawing the loudest cheers of the day from the Indiana contingent. Two possessions later, he set a screen for Langford on the perimeter and the smooth freshman finessed his way to the rim for a finger roll that brought the Hoosiers within 54-50 with 11:40 left.

The game remained close into the final minutes, but Indiana struggled to get over the hump. The Hoosiers had a couple of chances to take the lead, but either missed shots or turned the ball over. On one controversial play, Justin Smith barreled toward the hoop, drew contact and made a shot that would have put Indiana in front, but the referees called a charge. Archie Miller was incensed, but the Butler lead held.

Indiana finally went in front for the first time thanks to (who else?) Morgan. The Waynesville, Missouri native tied the game with a steal that turned into two free throws on the other end and then scored with a nifty left-handed hook off the glass from the low post. The latter basket gave him a career-high in points and put the Hoosiers ahead 66-64 with 3:05 left. The senior leader continued to be unstoppable during crunch time.

Player of the Game: Juwan Morgan

For the second straight year, Morgan brought his A game in the Crossroads Classic. After pouring in a career-high 34 points against Notre Dame last season, the forward had 35 on an incredible 12-of-14 shooting against the Bulldogs. Morgan was 4 of 6 from beyond the arc, knocking down three deep balls in the second half. His four 3s in the game were a season-high. With the performance, he came the 52nd player in Indiana history to score 1,000 career points.

Facts and Figures

The game was part of the Crossroads Classic and was the second game of the day at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, following Purdue-Notre Dame early in the afternoon. This was the eighth year of the Classic. ... Indiana and Butler have met four times in the Classic and Indiana is 2-2 in those games. Indiana's win was the first by the higher-ranked team in the four games between the teams. ... Indiana came in sixth in the country in field goal percentage, shooting 51.4 percent and shot 52 percent from the field. ... Langford entered the game sixth in the conference in scoring at 18.2 points per game and scored 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting. He also had seven rebounds. ... Indiana turned the ball over 15 times and Butler had a 14-7 advantage in points off turnovers. ... Sean McDermott led Butler with 20 points, knocking down six 3s. ... Former Hoosier and current Indiana Pacer Victor Oladipo was in attendance.

What's Next?

The Hoosiers returns to Assembly Hall on Wednesday for its first non-power conference matchup since Nov. 23 against UC-Davis. The Hoosiers will take on Central Arkansas (4-5) of the Southland Conference at 7 p.m. The game will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. The Hoosiers are 7-0 at Assembly Hall this season.

dsinn@jg.net


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