BLOOMINGTON – After five straight games against major conference opponents, tonight's matchup against Central Arkansas was supposed to be a bit of a break for the Hoosiers. Instead, they spent the first 10 minutes of the game flying up and down with the Bears, trailing most of the time and struggling to get stops on defense.
The Indiana defense finally clamped down midway through the period and the Hoosiers were able to pull away, but it wasn't exactly the performance Archie Miller was looking for from his team. The Hoosiers lead by 16 at halftime, but some of their mistakes would have been exploited against a good team. Central Arkansas is not that team.
Indiana fell behind 5-0 after the first minute and Archie Miller made his first substitution just 1:04 into the game, sending Devonte Green in for Aljami Durham, though Durham didn't have any fouls. Green responded, knocking down four 3-pointers and generally acting like the playmaker he was for stretches last season. We haven't seen that much this year, but it's a positive sign that he's rounding back into form. Indiana needed him to play that way in the first half, because Robert Phinisee exited the game at the 13:08 mark and went back to the locker room with an apparent injury. He eventually came back to the bench, but has not returned to the game.
The Hoosiers trailed 19-14 with 14:32 remaining in the half, but their defense finally showed up at that point. Over the next 9-plus minutes, the Bears missed a whopping 13 consecutive shots and turned the ball over four times. In the interim, the Hoosiers ripped off a 19-0 run, featuring six points from Romeo Langford, including a dunk in transition that unleashed an "oooo" sound from the crowd. Indiana took control of the game during that stretch as Central Arkansas' offensive deficiencies manifested themselves. At haltime, the Hoosiers are shooting 55 percent, while the Bears have struggled to hit 33 percent.
Indiana seems likely to cruise to an eighth consecutive win at Assembly Hall to start this season behind a balance offensive attack and solid defense. It hasn't been the prettiest performance and the lead could be much larger, but Indiana will take it after four close games in a row.
Justin Smith has been quietly excellent, going 5 of 5 from the field for 10 points.