BLOOMINGTON, IN – After not hearing their name called on Selection Sunday for the NCAA Tournament the Hoosiers began their postseason play tonight against the St. Francis Red Flash in the NIT.
From the outset, IU was without Romeo Langford who has been dealing with back pain since the Ohio State game in the Big Ten tournament, as well as Race Thompson who was sick. Neither of these absences were enough to keep the Hoosiers from pulling out the victory, though, as they rode impressive performances from Juwan Morgan and Al Durham to a 89-72 win over the St. Francis Red Flash.
IU started off slowly again, going down 7-2 in the opening two minutes. After a brief timeout, the team regrouped and went on a 9-0 run courtesy of two three pointers from Al Durham and Devonte Green and a three point and-1 conversion by Juwan Morgan. The run would escalate to 14-0 before St. Francis ended the run with a layup.
After breaking out to a nine point lead, IU’s offense started to stagnate, missing easy shots around the basket and the Hoosier defense was not as staunch as it had been to start the game. St. Francis steadily chipped away at the Hoosiers’ lead until they ultimately retook the lead.
The Red Flash, led by Jamaal King and Isaiah Blackmon, played with tenacity and hustle in the first half and clearly frustrated the Hoosiers, enabling St. Francis to remain in step with IU throughout the first half. The Hoosiers also appeared to step off the gas midway through the first half, opting to take outside shots instead of pound the ball into the post.
All this led to a halftime score of 40-34 in favor of St. Francis, who was led by Jamaal King‘s 16 first half points on 5-9 shooting from the field.
Whatever Archie Miller said to his team at half, though, clearly sank in. The Hoosiers came out of the gate fast and furious in the second half going on a 7-2 run, showing considerably more hustle and heart than they ended the first half with. The Hoosier defense forced St. Francis to take bad shots and turn the ball over leading to some good looks down low and fast break points for Indiana.
IU’s defense was exceptional to start the second half holding St. Francis to under 30% shooting from the field in the first 10 minutes, while IU’s offense shot 71% from the field in that same span.
However, every time IU seemed poised to go on an extended run and open the game up, St. Francis was able to get a deep three to keep IU within arm’s reach.
In the end, though, the Hoosiers imposed their will on St. Francis defensively and offensively in the second half, scoring seemingly at will shooting over 60% in the second half and 51.5% overall, while holding SFU to 37% from the field overall.
The Hoosiers were led by Juwan Morgan who finished the game with 28 points and 8 rebounds on 10-13 from the field, and Al Durham who scored 22 points on 9-15 shooting with 2 rebounds and 2 assists. Four of the five Hoosier starters reached double-figures in points, with only Rob Phinisee failing to reach double digits with 9 points.
Source: IU Athletics
The Hoosiers will play the winner of Providence vs Arkansas in the second round of the NIT on Thursday, March 21 in Bloomington.