(Photo Credit: IndianaHQ)
BLOOMINGTON, IN — The Hoosiers defeat Chris Mack and the Louisville Cardinals in a battle of two teams that Romeo Langford had considered at points during his recruitment. Indiana adds a win against another top-50 Kenpom team and moves to 8-2 on the season and remains undefeated at home.
Indiana had another sluggish start offensively against the visiting Cardinals – a story that seems to now be recurring. With a pair of close misses at point-blank, Indiana fell to a 6-14 deficit to open the game against Louisville.
Romeo Langford eventually provided the spark that jump-started the Hoosiers. Scoring the first four points of the game, he extended his offensive leadership and his role as the Hoosiers’ catalyst for yet another game. He injected confidence where and when Indiana needed it most. Romeo had an incredible dribble hesitation fake that broke the ankles of the opposing Cardinal, allowing for an easy two.
He would finish the first half with a stat line of 11 points in 4 of 7 shooting, 1 rebound, 1 assist, and no turnovers.
With his own flavor of the pack line, Chris Mack gave Indiana another defensive battle. The lengthy and athletic Cardinals gave Indiana a lot of trouble in the passing lanes, getting 4 steals, 1 block, and caused 5 Indiana turnovers in the first half of the game.
In a pre-game interview with Chris Mack, one of his key takeaways while scouting Indiana was their post presence in Juwan Morgan. Mack went as far as to say that Morgan should be a first round draft pick.
Juwan lived up to that. Every time the guards were able to feed the big man in the paint, he would face the basket and create.
For Louisville, 6’8″ Jordan Nwora continued to be the star for the Cardinals. In 18 minutes of court time, he scored 11 points and grabbed a game high 5 boards. He would finish the game with an impressive 24 points and 14 rebounds . In an all too familiar storyline, the Hoosiers had trouble handling the star big for the opposing team. Nwora joins the club of Daniel Gafford and Dererk Pardon. Archie Miller and bigs coach Bruiser Flint will certainly be making this a point of emphasis for the remainder of the season.
The second half turned into the same bucket-for-bucket trading that Hoosier fans are by now accustomed to. With Juwan Morgan out for a handful of minutes due to a nosebleed, the players on the floor kept up with Louisville. Offensively, Justin Smith and De’Ron Davis seemed to be able to find the open seams in the Cardinal defense. In fact they closed the gap to just 1 point at 37-38. Smith began showing signs of his old self in several posters.
If you took a look at the box score, you would assume that the three point shooting for both teams were non-events. However, when Indiana had explosive plays, Louisville’s deep threes were timely and settled down the Assembly Hall crowded that was ready to erupt on multiple occasions. After Rob Phinesee’s big three pointer to give Indiana the lead in the second half, Ryan McMahon responded with a 35-footer of his own. After Juwan’s and-1, Jordan Nwora responded himself with yet another three from deep.
With Indiana down just by one point with 1:31 left to go. Rob Phinisee drilled a three to put the Hoosiers up 60-58, and for the remainder of the the game, your ears would not be able to stop ringing. Juwan Morgan piled on with an easy bucket at the rim, rebound on the other side of the court, and drawing a foul to get to the line.
After tense fouling back-and-forth, Indiana closed the deal on another tightly contested game with free throws from Juwan, Romeo, and Rob. In a season of small margins, Indiana has been on the better side of them in recent weeks.
(Source: IU Athletics)
In the 8th edition of the Crossroads Classic, the Hoosiers take on the Butler Bulldogs who have an event best 5-2 record. Next Saturday, Archie Miller will go up against a Top 30 Butler team in Kenpom at the time of this writing.
During the 7 day period between games, Indiana will get an opportunity to rest and game plan, before taking a road trip back to Bankers Life Fieldhouse (where they played Loyola Chicago in a closed scrimmage earlier this year). Also during this period, the AP weekly voting will take place, which will likely feature Indiana.
More on LaVall Jordan and his ball club to come on IndianaHQ.