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Indiana State uses 3-point barrage to spoil IU men's basketball's season opener


Senior forward Freddie McSwain Jr. yells at a teammate during the first half of the Hoosiers' game against the Indiana State Sycamores on Friday. The Hoosiers lost 90-69. Evan De Stefano Buy Photos

It might not have taken a record-breaking performance to beat IU men’s basketball on Friday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, but Indiana State delivered one anyway.

A sharpshooting first half saw the Sycamores make 10 threes and take a commanding halftime lead. It seemed unlikely, and certainly improbable, that Indiana State would come out and put on a repeat performance in the final 20 minutes. 

But they did, and IU Coach Archie Miller could see it coming.

“Once a team starts to make a few, that’s when it can get challenging to kind of get them under control,” Miller said after the game.

When it was all said and done in Miller’s first game as IU head coach, the Hoosiers allowed the Sycamores to make 17 shots from behind the arc — a record for an IU opponent inside Assembly Hall — on their way to a 90-69 upset win against IU.

Every single Indiana State player that hit a three made at least half of their attempts, but the prolific shooting night centered around two Sycamore guards in particular. Sophomore Jordan Barnes and senior Brenton Scott both tied their career highs with five and six 3-pointers, respectively.

The backcourt leaders exuded confidence throughout the game. Scott had six turnovers, and Barnes fouled out late, but neither seemed to care. Their shooting prowess had built Indiana State such a comfortable lead that Miller even thought it became infectious.

“Some of their other guys, I thought they got cooking because those two guys got cooking,” Miller said. “They gave everybody confidence in this game.”

The Sycamores only made 12 two-point shots, and shot 52 percent from inside the arc. Their long-range efficiency was lethal, though, and even after missing their last four attempts from deep, Indiana State finished with a 65 percent mark from three.

IU’s guards, who did themselves no favors by shooting poorly, were chasing Indiana State all over the perimeter throughout the game. The pack line defense that Miller employs calls for his team to sag off the 3-point line at times. When the opponent’s shots are falling, it’s incumbent upon the wings to close out quicker on jump shots.

Senior guard Robert Johnson was one of the IU guards frantically flying at Scott, Barnes and the rest of the Sycamores all night. He said IU’s team effort was not enough.

“I just think we never collectively made a decision to take that away and to guard the ball and not get spread out,” Johnson said.

Miller and company were willing to blame IU’s effort and mental mistakes for most of Indiana State’s shooting success. And there were plenty of other areas that left room for improvement, like the mental softness Miller said he sees in his team right now.

But at the end of the day, both Johnson and Miller couldn’t do much but credit Indiana State for such an uncanny, yet remarkable shooting night.

Three-point field goal percentage has suddenly become a number to watch for IU’s opponents moving forward, but it’s unlikely they’ll run up against such a prolific performance again this season. It had been quite a while since Miller had seen it before.

“I haven’t seen 17 threes go in at that rate in a long time,” Miller said. “That was an impressive performance.”

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