The Journal Gazette
Tuesday, December 03, 2019 1:00 am

Seminoles to test IU's guard depth

Hoosiers' Phinisee remains injured

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

Indiana is undefeated. 

The Hoosiers won all seven games they played in November and are one of just 20 unbeaten teams remaining in Division I basketball. However, those seven wins have all come against lesser opponents: Indiana's strength of schedule, per, is 341st of 353 teams.

The schedule gets much more difficult beginning tonight, when the Hoosiers welcome No. 17 Florida State to Assembly Hall as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge. The warmup portion of Indiana's schedule is over and against the Seminoles, the Hoosiers have their first chance to prove they are a different group than the team that has missed three straight NCAA tournaments.  

“I'm always excited to play in Assembly Hall,” senior guard Devonte Green said of tonight's matchup. “But it's always an advantage for us when there's a lot more fans here and they're a lot louder and the game's more intense. So I would say I'm excited.”

Green has been one of Indiana's most explosive offense players this season. He's averaging 12.3 points and shooting 45% from beyond the arc to give the Hoosiers a credible outside threat. 

Where coach Archie Miller wants Green and the rest of Indiana's backcourt players to improve is on defense. The Hoosiers haven't been bad, giving up 63.6 points per game and holding opponents to 38.3% shooting, but they're thin at guard and that has Miller worried as his team prepares for the schedule to get more difficult. 

“I continue to be concerned about our defense,” Miller said. “Our lack of depth at guard is really going to get exposed as we start to play the talent level and the guards on the other team. ... Armaan (Franklin) and Al (Durham) and Devonte (Green), being our guard tandem right now have got to continue to do a great job of being better on the ball.”

Indiana is hamstrung by the absence of sophomore point guard Rob Phinisee, who made a name for himself as a freshman with his defensive play. Phinisee has missed two straight games with an undisclosed injury and though Miller called his availability day to day, he said he's not sure when Phinisee will return to practice. 

That hole in the lineup leaves Indiana with only three healthy scholarship guards, one of whom – Franklin – is a freshman. That will make life difficult against the Seminoles (7-1), who force 18.3 turnovers per game, 25th in the country. The Hoosiers gave the ball away 19 times against South Dakota State, and Green has turned the ball over 10 times this season against 13 assists. 

“Florida State is going to turn you over like craz,” Miller said. “Their size, their switching, their length at the basket, it's going to be impossible just to get two-point baskets. You're not going to have that.

“So our guards got to take care of it, our team has to be better offensively to take care of the ball when we get into a half-court setting.”

The Seminoles, who had a program-record 29 wins and a Sweet 16 appearance last season, have won seven games in a row, including victories over Florida, Tennessee and Purdue.

Note: Indiana forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was named Big Ten Freshman of the Week after averaging 20 points, 12.5 rebounds and 3 blocks in two games. He's won the award twice and is the Hoosiers' leading scorer (15.6) and rebounder (9.6).

Big Ten/ACC Challenge

Indiana vs. Florida State

When: 9 p.m. today

Where: Assembly Hall, Bloomington

Records: Indiana (7-0); No. 17 Florida State (7-1)


Radio: 1250 AM

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