BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Key contributions from upperclassmen Justin Smith and Al Durham (who returned back from a knee contusion injury) led the Indiana Hoosiers to a 98-65 victory over the Western Illinois Leathernecks Tuesday night. Indiana won their season-opener and moved to 1-0 for the 2019-2020 campaign. Despite an improved offense compared to the exhibition game, the Hoosiers scored just shy of the century mark.
After sitting out of Indiana’s exhibition contest against Gannon, Durham got the start at point guard for Indiana. The junior got right to it with seven quick points off of perimeter shots to move the Hoosiers out in front, 9-3.
Using his speed, Durham pushed the ball in transition putting the Western Illinois’ defense into a frantic as they were scattered while on that end of the floor.
The Leathernecks did not allow the Hoosiers to jump out too far ahead. WIU scored seven straight points to take the lead 12-11 at the under-12 timeout in the first half. Indiana worked the ball inside, but could not find a bucket during that run.
Out of a heated Archie timeout, the Hoosiers found their offense once again, as they went on a 12-0 run taking the lead and extending it to 24-15. Indiana’s defense aided the run as multiple steals drew easy fastbreak opportunities.
Justin Smith took advantage of the Leatherneck turnovers and used his athleticism to throw down many dunks on the night. The junior forward battled inside at times and came away with points to keep the run going for the Hoosiers
Smith had 12 points at the half and filled the highlight reel.
That same run would get increased to 22-3 and Indiana poured it on the Leathernecks. Durham picked up right where he left off from earlier in the game, hitting back-to-back three point jumpers to increase the lead to 44-22. The Georgia native shot perfect during the first half and had 15 points with three made three-pointers.
After a half-court buzzer beater by Western Illinois’ Kobe Webster, Indiana carried a 46-25 lead into the intermission.
Durham and Smith’s production continued into the second half as Indiana started to pull away from Western Illinois. Indiana’s transition game and size inside was too much for the Leathernecks as the Hoosiers cruised to victory in comfortable fashion.
Durham finished the game with 21 points on perfect shooting from the floor, and Smith led all scorers with 24 points on 11-17 shooting.
Indiana returns to action this Saturday in a non-conference matchup against Portland State. The game is set for a 2 p.m. tip-off and can be seen on BTN Plus.
Featured Photo: Anna Tiplick / IndianaHQ