The Minute After: Minnesota

  • 01/06/2018 8:10 pm in

Thoughts on a 75-71 win over the Golden Gophers:

Indiana came into this one wounded. Its loss to Wisconsin, even in a season with huge losses at home to Indiana State and Fort Wayne, was arguably its worst game of the season. And with both De’Ron Davis and Collin Hartman sidelined for the contest, the Hoosiers had even more wounds to lick.

But Minnesota had its own recent issues to deal with as well. The Reggie Lynch situation became national news yesterday. Amir Coffey’s shoulder injury kept him out of the contest.

And as Indiana came out of the gate dropping in 3-pointers and getting a heck of an effort from freshman Justin Smith, the Hoosiers appeared ready to move on from the serious lack of effort they showed earlier this week against Wisconsin.

Minnesota couldn’t buy a bucket in the first half as Indiana extended a lead out to nine with 3:41 to go. Could the Hoosiers be up double-digits at half on the road? Well. No. They left 3-point shooters open and didn’t score the remainder of the half. What could have been a comfortable cushion at the break was just a one-point lead at 32-31.

And over the first five minutes of the second half, it looked like Indiana’s first half charge would be all for naught, another road game in which it just couldn’t get over the hump. Minnesota scored a flurry of buckets at the rim and got up eight (48-40) with 15:19 to go. But unlike in the second half against Wisconsin, Indiana didn’t fold or fade away. Far from it. The Hoosiers hung tough and made more than a game of it.

The Hoosiers grabbed back the lead at the 11:28 mark on a Robert Johnson 3-pointer. Johnson’s had trouble with confidence of late and has been a source of frustration for fans. But his performance on offense this evening — 28 points on 10-of-21 shooting, seven rebounds, seven assists — was a big reason why Indiana was able to pull out the victory.

Juwan Morgan continued his double-double prowess, pumping in 20 points and 12 rebounds. Morgan had only hit two 3-pointers all season as he’s struggled to find any success beyond the arc. But in a contest the Hoosiers finally broke through and shot well from distance (8-of-19, 42.1 percent), Morgan splashed in 3-of-4, making more in this game than he had all season.

In just his second start as a Hoosier, Smith scored a career-high 20 points and showed absolutely no fear against Minnesota. Smith’s biggest shot of the contest was a 3-pointer he hit with 2:30 to go to put Indiana up 71-70. It was a lead Indiana never relinquished. Some clutch free throws down the stretch from Johnson sealed this one, as did some defense. The Hoosiers held the Golden Gophers to just two free throws and no field goals over the final 3:34 of the contest.

The eight 3-pointers and defense — the Hoosiers allowed just .97 PPP to Minnesota — made the difference in this one. But so too did Indiana’s effort and energy. This one had all the makings of another road contest the Hoosiers had a shot in but ultimately lost.

But instead, it’s the first true road win of the Archie Miller era, a welcomed change from the disappointment of the Wisconsin loss earlier this week.

(Photo credit: IU Basketball on Twitter)

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  • Colt

    I love B1G road wins.

  • iubase

    Great effort from Justin Smith and Juwan Morgan. But mostly RJ. Also great hustle plays from Zach. Much needed win and hopefully this effort will continue. Much different team than the one which lost in Madison.

  • kurk81

    At least we can reasonably hope that this team, unlike IU teams of the last 25 years (with a couple of exceptions) will actually get better as the season progresses. Let’s hope this game represents a step in that direction.

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    The same was said after the ND game!

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    Mama always said those Hoosiers are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.

  • Tommy Morrsion

    Tip of the cap to RJ tonight. He really made some key baskets at moments where the game could have been put out of reach by Minny. He did a great job of reading the defender on screens to make cuts towards the basket.Great hustle from ZM as usual. Critical rebound at the end which is classic Zach. And can’t say more about the play of Justin Smith, glad to see him play well when he got his shot.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    Yeah, this team is confusing to say the least.

    I’ve been out most the day . . . what’s up with Collin?

  • Ole Man

    I think they mentioned sore shoulder.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    I hope it’s nothing serious. That kid has earned the right to be able to finish a season on his terms.

  • Aceman_Mujezinovic_07

    That’s exactly what I’ve said since they hired Archie. I want to see a good coach who’s teams improve over the course of the season and steadily from season to season. Many great coaches (ala Coach K) weren’t lighting up the win totals their first 3-4 years but they built and improved to the point where they were regular year to year power programs/coaches. I think Archie has that ability.

  • dennis powell

    Really big road win. RJ and JS were really good. JM and ZMc were just good enough in all the little ways. DG comes out playing great and then went brain dead. Other then ND this was Archie’s best game. Just goes to show you what a little effort will get you.

  • sam

    Good team win on the road where it’s never easy. Keep listening, growing and playing together and it will be alright.. Go IU…

  • RonMlarkey

    will be interesting to see if this team finds any type of consistency this season, hard not to expect a double digit loss to PSU at home next game.

  • Q46

    This team is going to go the way of it’s guards. Guards have a poor game, they’re going to get crushed. Guards have a good game they stand a chance. Unfortunately our guards are extremely inconsistent and 3 of the 4 are prone to making bone headed plays at least twice a game.

    Happy to see JS play so well! That’s a great sign for things to come. He’s big and athletic enough to be really good and guard multiple positions on the court. And he stayed within himself for the most part today and didn’t try to force too much.

  • Hoosier gal in Iowa

    Can someone remind what other game Justin started pretty please?

  • Q46

    Seton Hall I believe

  • TomJameson

    Agree with RJ and JS, but you know that JM (Juwan) had a double-double, right? 20 points, 12 rebounds. He is a stud, and played like it again.

    Zach is Zach … McHustle, McFloor, McDoitall. He is a spark plug out there, and even if he didn’t score, we wouldn’t win without him.

  • SCHoosier

    U R correct..unfortunately Green and Newkirk gave us nothing last night..and Al..while trying hard..should never shoot another three..and scares me to death every time he has the ball in his hands. Rob will make his bad passes..but his getting to the hoop.& defense on Mason…saved the Hoosiers butts last night.

  • dennis powell

    Yeah I do but I’m so use to him being that guy that I didn’t pay the correct respect for what he did. Thanks for pointing that out.

  • Steve Morgan

    Awesome to see JS starting to figure it out. Watching the practice videos, you see them using the pads against the guys in the post. Justin has the body to handle that, but in the first games, the problem was that he was having the ball ripped from his hands on the way up. Watching his reaction to those strips (and the subsequent seat on the bench), it looked like they were killing his confidence, and understandably so. Yesterday, he was much more secure with the ball and is using his body to protect it on the way up. This, combined with a confident and smooth stroke from 3 (he never looks rushed), gives me confidence that he can build on this game. Excited to see what he can do this week with a home crowd behind him!

  • IdahoHoosier

    I hope you’re right. It is concerning though that it may have taken significant injuries to prompt Archie to make adjustments to the game plan. Good win over Minnesota. But still ugly and too many mental lapses. So many short-armed layups.