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Indiana 70, South Florida 53: Strong second half propels Hoosiers to victory

Three things from tonight’s victory in Assembly Hall.

NCAA Basketball: Indiana State at Indiana Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

1. After a shaky start, Indiana showed signs of who it could be in the second half

Okay. So it was a sleepy Sunday night in Assembly Hall when most students are already on break, against a South Florida team that was ranked #268 on KenPom going in. But, a win is a win for Indiana right now. Especially after the Bulls kept even with IU, even leading at halftime.

But a technical foul on Archie Miller late in the first half may have motivated the team. The Hoosiers played much more of the style of play we were hoping to see under Miller in the second half, holding USF to only 19 points, limiting their own turnovers (which were a problem in the first half), forcing the Bulls to make bad shots, and good ball movement on offense. If De’Ron Davis can stay out of foul trouble, he has the chance to be a real presence in the paint this year, especially once Big Ten play rolls around - he had 12 points tonight.

Long story short, it’s nice to see what the defense can do when the opponent isn’t doing its best Steph Curry impersonation from the three-point range. The Hoosiers held USF to 29% from downtown tonight.

2. This team will go as far as Robert Johnson and Juwan Morgan takes them

Robert Johnson had 21 points tonight. He’s the leading returning scorer from last year’s team, and after a sluggish start to the season, he hit all three of his 3-point attempts and went 9-for-14 overall tonight. Morgan had a double-double with 15 points and 10 boards, had 4 blocks on the game, and really stepped it up in the second act on defense as well. These two upperclassmen stepped up as leaders tonight.

3. The freshmen look good

Al Durham had 9 points and 5 rebounds, while Justin Smith had 4 and 5 in only 13 minutes. Even Clifton Moore had a key defensive rebound despite limited action. All three freshmen were Tom Crean commits and stuck with Archie after the coaching change, and so far they are looking up to the task.

Indiana moves to 2-2. Next up is a home game against Arkansas State on Wednesday.