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IU men's basketball harnesses crowd energy in win over No. 24 Marquette


Freshman guard Romeo Langford searches for a teammate to throw the ball to Nov. 14 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Langford contributed 22 out of the 96 points scored by IU. Ty Vinson

In the east stands of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the man in the white T-shirt couldn't sit still.

With every IU fast break, defensive stop and field goal made, he, along with thousands of others in the arena Wednesday night, rose to their feet and cheered.

A red stripe across the back of his long-sleeved shirt became visible with each Evan Fitzner three-pointer as the man celebrated with a succession of windmill fist pumps.

The "Indiana" written across the front of his shirt came into view with every drive to the basket by Romeo Langford, as the man bowed toward the assigned savior of IU basketball.

His celebrations were frequent occurrences during IU's 96-73 win over No. 24 Marquette, which was IU's first win at home against a ranked opponent under Coach Archie Miller. 

"All in all, we got a long way to go. We got some deficiencies and we got to keep working," Miller said. "But in this building when you give that type of intensity level, you give that type of effort, you're rewarded with a great environment to play into."

Junior forward De’Ron Davis yells after watching a Marquette University player hit the ground. IU played Marquette and won Nov. 14 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Ty Vinson

Even during Marquette's shoot around prior to the game, the IU student section was in full voice, harassing players like Marquette junior guard Markus Howard. Those jeers continued into the game as the Hoosiers shut down the Golden Eagles on offense, with guards freshman Rob Phinisee and sophomore Al Durham combining to force three early turnovers from Howard, who finished the game with four.

Phinisee drew the game's initial defensive assignment against Howard, and the end statistics marked a night-and-day difference between the players' performances. Howard went 6-14 shooting from the field, while Phinisee went 5-7. Phinisee's eight assists led all players in the game, and were double the amount recorded by Howard.

"He's a stud," Miller said. "There's not much to say. I haven't been around a young guard in a long time that has that type of quiet calmness, that's tough, that's smart."

The tone set by Phinisee to start the game translated to the rest of his teammates.

Marquette's lone lead of the night, a 2-0 advantage, was gone inside the game's opening minute.

By the under-16 timeout in the first half, the Hoosiers had sprinted out to a 19-4 lead thanks to smothering defense and a quick seven points from Durham. He received the start in Wednesday's game thanks to injuries that ruled four IU players out of the contest.

Junior guard Devonte Green and senior guard Zach McRoberts were the most significant absences for IU, along with freshmen forwards Race Thompson and Jerome Hunter. Miller said he didn't expect any of the four players to return to game action in the month of November.

This presented a chance for Durham to play his first significant minutes of the season, as he and Langford were on the court for a game-high 35 minutes each. Durham finished with 13 points, five assists and a plus/minus of +29, which was tied for the best on IU's team along with senior forward Juwan Morgan.

"I thought it was one of the best games he's played," Miller said. "He was aggressive on offense, made great decisions on the drives to pass. Getting him back in general is important for our team because I think he's experienced and knows what's going on."

Senior forward Evan Fitzner throws the ball to a teammate Nov. 14 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. IU defeated Marquette University 96-73. Ty Vinson

While players like Langford and Durham were instrumental in IU's 19-4 run to start the game, the 5-0 run to end the first half and the 14-5 run to begin the second half, it was the sharp-shooting style of Fitzner that elicited the most noise from the Hoosier crowd.

Fitzner was a perfect 4-4 on three-pointers and 6-7 shooting field goals overall, producing 16 points in just 17 minutes of playing time.

"Guys were finding me too," Fitzner said. "So it's really just my teammates finding me and knocking down the open shot."

The win over the Golden Eagles was just the second ranked win for the Hoosiers under Miller, and it was the first win against a ranked team in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall since November 2016.

Sunday afternoon's road test at Arkansas is set to show if IU can follow up on this big win, but Fitzner said the Marquette win already shows what IU is capable of this season.

"I think in a way it kind of puts us on the map a little bit," Fitzner said. "I think we all as a group have a lot of confidence in what we can do. But I think that we kind of showed everyone what we're capable of tonight."

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