There have been two games between Indiana and Arkansas this season. Both games were tightly contested and went down to the wire. The Razorbacks took the first on their home floor during the regular season. The Hoosiers took the second when the stakes were a bit higher on their home floor.
On Saturday Indiana edged out the Razorbacks 63-60 despite the absence of Romeo Langford. With the win the Hoosiers advance to the quarterfinals of the NIT, where they’ll take on the winner of Sunday’s matchup between Wichita State and Clemson.
With the effort they put out against Arkansas, the Hoosiers showed that they want to keep fighting which might be because they have an eye on the future.
“It just shows how together we are, how resilient we are, and we’re in it to win it,” junior forward De’Ron Davis said. “A lot of teams don’t like playing in the NIT, but we’re going to use it to get better and continue how to learn how to win in the postseason for next year.”
1. Devonte Green Light
Over the course of his time at Indiana Devonte Green has been a polarizing figure. His streaky nature tends to have poles as well—it seems as if one second he can do something astoundingly good and the next his play will be astounding for a different reason. Green’s play has been much more of the former over the last two games.
On Saturday the junior led the Hoosiers in scoring with 18 points on the night. He shot 6/12 from the floor and 4-9 from downtown, tacking on 11 rebounds, three assists, and three steals. His hot streak has been a joy to watch and has caught the eye of his coach.
“He’s good,” IU head coach Archie Miller said. “He’s our most important sort of cog in the wheel right now. He’s making a lot of plays. He’s shooting the ball extremely well with great confidence.”
2. Fans in the Stands
It feels like when a program with as much history and expectation as Indiana fails to make the NCAA Tournament and ends up in the NIT that there’s subdued interest from the fanbase and it can show in the attendance numbers. In Indiana’s first game of the competition the reported attendance was just 5,431—a pitiful showing for a team that regularly sells out an arena that seats 17,222.
On Saturday things were significantly better. IU’s announced attendance against Arkansas was 12,225—over double the attendance of the first round game against Saint Francis. That improvement was beneficial for Indiana and Miller noted it.
“Oh, man, can’t thank our fans enough,’ Miller said. “The environment in there was as good as we’ve had, the fans that are coming here want to be here, and our players really benefitted from it today.”
3. Hoosier Health
As the Hoosiers get deeper into the NIT the health of their roster could become more and more important. Romeo Langford has missed the last two games with a back injury and Zach McRoberts has been dealing with some knocks of his own.
Following Saturday’s game Miller described McRoberts as being “about 60 percent, 65 percent.” The coach noted that the guard’s back has improved, but his foot is making him less agile. Despite this, Miller said that McRoberts had a good game and “had a good bounce about him.”
Langford’s status will once again be up in the air for the next game. Miller said that the star freshman could potentially return to the lineup in the next round of the tournament, but it seems as if it’s more of a wait and see situation than anything. Langford isn’t practicing according to Miller but he’s supposedly feeling better and making progress so there may be a reason for optimism among the Hoosier faithful.