Notebook: Hoosiers pick up first road win on career-games from Smith and Johnson

  • 01/06/2018 9:10 pm in

MINNEAPOLIS – Fresh off a disappointing loss in Madison on Tuesday night, Indiana bounced back on Saturday with a 75-71 win over Minnesota at Williams Arena.

After an uninspired second-half effort on Tuesday, the Hoosiers (9-7, 2-2 Big Ten) nearly put together a complete 40 minutes against the Gophers (13-4, 2-2). The lone exception was a four-minute lull to start the second half where Minnesota outscored Indiana 13-6.

Indiana’s scoring came almost entirely from three players: senior Robert Johnson, junior Juwan Morgan and freshman Justin Smith. The trio combined to score all but seven of Indiana’s 75 points, shooting a collective 53 percent (25-of-47) from the field.

Johnson has struggled offensively throughout much of the season, but on Saturday, he managed to find the perfect balance between attacking the defense and feeding his teammates. The senior scored a career-high 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting (3-of-7 from three) and added seven rebounds, seven assists, two steals and one block.

“Rob played big,” Archie Miller said of Johnson’s performance. “He had big finishes there at the end, big free throws. That’s what a senior does. I’m proud of him. He stays with it, he’s a great kid, he works his butt off. It was great to see him break through with a great game.”

Smith and Morgan were similarly impactful in the first road victory of the season.

Starting together in the frontcourt, the duo shined on both ends of the floor, combining for five 3-pointers and banging inside on offense while keeping the Minnesota bigs in check on the other end.

For Smith, it was just his second start of the season, and he showed why it shouldn’t be his last. Even after committing an inexplicable inbound violation in the opening minutes, Smith never lost confidence and ended the night with a career-high 20 points. Defensively, he held Minnesota forward Jordan Murphy to a 5-of-14 shooting performance.

“Justin did a good job,” Miller said. “As a true freshman playing against maybe the premier guy in our league right now, I thought he did a good job. He held his own.”

Hoosiers and Gophers undermanned

Both teams came into this contest shorthanded. For the Hoosiers, sophomore De’Ron Davis is out indefinitely with a “lower leg injury,” while Collin Hartman did not play after a shoulder injury made him a game-time decision.

The Gophers entered the game equally depleted, missing both senior center Reggie Lynch and sophomore guard Amir Coffey. The former is indefinitely suspended while appealing a ruling from the University of Minnesota ethics commission that found him “responsible” for sexual misconduct, while the latter was a late scratch with a shoulder injury and could miss significant time.

Improved perimeter shooting

Indiana has struggled from behind the 3-point line all season, shooting just 31 percent coming into Saturday. That includes a 4-of-15 effort on Tuesday, where all of the makes came from senior Collin Hartman.

With Hartman out of the lineup Saturday, the rest of the team stepped up. The perimeter shooting wasn’t anything special – 42 percent from deep (8-of-19) – but the makes helped open up the floor inside, where the Hoosiers scored 34 points in the paint.

All eight makes came from Johnson (3-of-7), Smith (2-of-2) and Morgan (3-of-4). Prior to Saturday, Smith and Morgan had hit a combined three triples all season.

“Tonight was a little bit different,” Miller said. “Guys stepped up with some confidence. Rob (Johnson) banged a couple. The big thing was Justin (Smith) and Juwan (Morgan). Those guys stepped up with some confidence wide open and they made them. That made a big difference.”

De’Ron Davis’ status

On the ESPN2 broadcast, analyst and former IU interim head coach Dan Dakich said that center De’Ron Davis would miss the rest of the season with an achilles injury.

This is contrary to the “indefinite” timeline provided by Miller earlier in the week. Asked postgame about the injury, the coach declined to provide clarification on the injury.

“It’s a lower leg injury right now,” Miller said. “We’ll know more this week.”

(Photo credit: Minnesota Athletics)

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  • ImYourHuckleberry

    Anyone else think Dan Jockitch is still sour about his short stint as interim head coach not evolving into the real deal? He joins the list along with Bill Walton and Joe Buck as guys my ears just cannot stand to listen to.

  • inLinE6

    I think he’s pretty harsh at times, but provide some great in-game analysis on the fly. He’s arrogant in general.

  • Arsdale

    Joe Buck is in a league of awfulness all his own.

  • inCMitrust

    Achilles injury=out for rest of year, but should be fine next year. I tore mine years ago.

  • Richard D Sirois

    HERE HERE !!! He called a game at UNC that I watched this weekend and i had to mute it because he drives me friggin’ crazy. He talks nothing but bullcrap.

  • JimmyChittwood

    Bill Walton is on point!

  • MikeinNC

    Really impressive performance by RJ especially given that the Barn is always a tricky place for visiting shooters! But we’ve always known he can be a lights out shooter – why really impressed me was seeing him combine the scoring with 7 rebounds AND 7 assists AND an assist to TO ratio > 2. That’s the kind of leadership by example this team sorely needs from a senior. Hoping this was a turning point for RJ this year.

    Also, Dakich is an idiot for how he talked about DD and his injury – so irresponsible to go off script from the team’s official announcement and refer to him being “out for the season” like it is an established fact (it may very well be the case, but the way he handled it was a stunning lapse in judgment). You just don’t start referring to a kids “season being over” as if it is a fact until the team confirms it is a fact. I can’t believe there wasn’t an adult somewhere on that production crew telling him to knock it off. What a tool.

  • Dunkin’ Depot

    Dan Dakich’s Mic wasn’t working for the first 30 seconds or so of the broadcast. I was so excited and thought maybe ESPN was tired of him too. But alas, it wasn’t to last…

  • TomJameson

    Yeah, I think he carries a grudge against IU because they didn’t hire him. I have no idea how somebody can listen to him calling an IU game and say that he is an IU “homer”.

    Would be okay if he could just call the game. But he always has to interject his opinions (stated as facts) about everything. I’m very good at ignoring “noise” during the game, but he’s so irritating I find myself getting … well, irritated. lol

  • N71

    I may get slapped but did I hear Romeo Langford briefly say, “I’d like to stay close to home next year…”? I was sleep deprived and liquored up so I’m not sure what I was watching or when but it was last night for sure before or after one of his games. To me I immediately thought, ‘Kansas is out’. Did anyone else hear or see that? I think it was an Indy evening news channel.

  • N71

    Try listening to his radio show when he gets on one about IU. He’s an anomaly of sorts, he loves and hates IU, you can tell there’s a wide range of emotion for him on the topic. He’s proud of what we were and being a part of it as he should. He hates getting snubbed like anyone would. He’s frustrated we’re not dominant like we were once. He moves all around, mostly negative though, because he has more history than most. I can’t say I enjoy it but I suppose I understand it to a degree. He may grind that axe for the rest of his life like someone else we know. Its kind of like that crazy uncle that drinks too much, you wonder how long this can continue.

  • dennis powell

    Sometimes coaches need to be hit over the head to do the right thing. DDs injury may have been that. Some have been clamoring for CM and we didn’t get to see him but JS was for one game a nice shot in the arm. JS I hope continues to get minutes after what we saw yesterday. RJ can be the guy he was yesterday all the time if he would just trust in himself. We need him to be that guy. JM is our best player , I have loved him from the beginning. ZMac is just so fun to watch. I’m glad he’s getting his time. Not sure if he scored a point yesterday but when 3 guys score 20+ he may not need to. It was fun watching that game. DG came out like a house afire and then went brain dead. He could be something special. He needs to let the game come to him instead of trying to force it.

  • SCHoosier

    I was right there with you. U know ..DD has a job to do..but he runs off at the mouth with “analysis” so much that I get a head ache. Dan seems to think that h e has to fill every second with some kind of blather. Really starting to dislike him..I mean really. Just shut the *&^% up once in a while.

  • Todd Jones

    Stating the obvious, but we really need to keep CH healthy with DD out. An already thin front line can’t get much thinner. Though they had a helluva game, what remains of the frontcourt will wear down eventually through the grind of Big 10 and postseason without some able-bodied relief.

  • GiantsFanSince52

    Cannot stand Dakich! He’s so obviously butt-hurt that I.U. didn’t have a brain-fart and hire him back when. There’s a reason he’s announcing and not coaching somewhere–he can’t coach. He can’t announce either, but that’s kind of common with those guys. I loved his comment that “when you (meaning “he”) says something bad about I.U. it’s the I.U. women who climb all over you (or words to that effect). Sounds like a snowflake who needs a safe space to go to to be safe from all those mean girls… I keep wishing someone would come up to him in a game and stuff a sock in his mouth…

  • Joshua Margolis

    I didn’t mention it in the notebook, but McRoberts was superb. Did just about everything but score

  • Koko

    In my opinion Zach pulled down another game winning offensive rebound with a couple, three guys all over him. He did indeed play a great game.

  • Tommy Morrsion

    To your point, after listening to more than just his ESPN broadcasts I think his view on IU is complicated. On his radio showI find that he expresses his pride of the basketball, but will always be critical of the administration.

    To respond to everyone calling him arrogant: try hosting a compelling radio show and not dressing your opinions up like facts. Not trying to defend his borderline arrogance as a broadcaster because I think that should be different, but the radio is a medium that creates this arrogance to make a compelling show (Doug Gottleib, Collin Cowherd come to mind).