It wasn’t pretty, but Indiana got a much-needed win - Archie Miller’s first official one as head coach - at home over Howard on Sunday night two days prior to their first big test of the season.
The final score isn’t quite indicative of the game itself. After a back-and-forth first half, the Hoosiers took control and held it for the second half even as Howard threw in some long threes to make the scoreline close.
The freshman played better than most of the upperclassmen
Al Durham and Justin Smith’s play tonight made it look like they belonged in the starting line-up. The two finished tied for second in scoring with 16 points apiece.
With a handful of starters either struggling or injured, Durham and Smith picked up the slack in a big way. It’s probably too early to be inserting them into the starting line-up, but it’s not too early to give them big minutes off the bench if they continue to play as they did tonight.
The defense was good, but lord that offense is something
There are some aberrations on both ends of the court that come with early-season play. First, IU opponents are 30-of-60 from three-point territory through two games. Tonight, Howard shot 13-for-34 and most of those makes were either contested or deep threes and sometimes both. There will be a regression to the mean (hopefully) at some point.
On the other end, Indiana was AWFUL at the line, going 12-for-29. If IU makes even half of the amount they missed, this game isn’t close. Indiana isn’t going to be a sub-.500 free-throw shooting team this year.
The bigger picture, though, is that the defense looks miles ahead of the offense, which isn’t necessarily surprising. The offense is sluggish and you can tell the players are thinking through it too much at times. That will come more naturally as the year goes on. But boy is it going to be a long year.
De’Ron Davis is a monster
With Juwan Morgan injuring his ankle minutes into the game and Collin Hartman sitting with an injury, De’Ron Davis was forced into some big minute tonight. We saw what all the conditioning work did for him this summer as he was able to stay on the court and perform at a high level.
In his time on the court, he flashed even more growth. His array of post moves are still there with an added dose of agility and athleticism. The athleticism was also on display defensively as he finished with three blocks on the night.