Romeo Langford’s first collegiate point was uneventful. It came on the back-end of two free throw attempts with 16:03 remaining in the first half.
His second however, encapsulated what IU pundits and fans have expected from the high-flying freshman phenom since his April 30 commitment.
Fading behind the north basket at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, the New Albany, Indiana-native spotted up over his defender. Rolling off his fingers with a silky smooth spin, the ball splashed through the netting.
A chorus of shrieks and yells followed the bucket. The crowd approved. Langford had arrived.
“It really was no pressure,” Langford said of his first regular season game at IU. “Emotions were high.”
In IU’s dominating 104-55 win over Chicago State on Tuesday night, Langford was nearly flawless. The much-hyped freshman totaled 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting with four rebounds and three assists to boot.
Following his first bucket, Langford drained six shots over a four-minute stretch to grant IU some breathing room they would not relent.
“Romeo was the beneficiary of some good advance passes, across the floor, up the floor, and from that point forward he’s in his strength zone,” IU Coach Archie Miller said. “When he’s in transition, heading to the basket, you saw a guy really was efficient.”
As a team, Miller said he expects the Hoosiers to make their money at the rim. Langford was no exception to that game plan Tuesday night.
Whether it was in transition or out of half court sets, the former five-star recruit found himself gliding through the paint as multitudes of hapless Cougars defenders failed to impede his path.
Courtesy of a Zach McRoberts transition pass, Langford found himself flying through the open court 11 and a half minutes into the first half. Leaping from just inside the foul line, his midsection clocked the lone Chicago State defender in his path. With a finger roll and a whistle, Langford had the and-one as he coasted through the Indiana night.
“It’s just like everyone else’s impressions of him,” Chicago State Coach Lance Irvin said. “He can play. We all know that.”
That said, Langford’s first few minutes in the cream and crimson were passive. It took nearly four minutes for his first point to come. Langford made pass after pass, as he grew within the game.
Yet, Langford was quick to note it wasn’t trepidation that led to his quiet start, he was simply adjusting to the flow.
“My job is to attack, and I was just attacking,” Langford said. “And people were getting on me and left my teammates open. And I was just making the right basketball play and let the game come to me."
Miller doubled down on Langford’s sentiments.
“If you look at the first four minutes he probably had three to five passes, unselfish plays, on kickouts, drives to pass, looking for the bigs,” Miller said. “I thought he got off to a really good start passing the ball, which helped our team.”
The reigning Indiana Mr. Basketball’s debut wasn’t flawless. Langford totaled just two points, both on free throws, and finished 0-for-3 from the field in the second half. He also finished a meager 5-of-11 at the charity stripe.
But for a game against one of college basketball’s worst programs in which he didn’t play the final eight minutes of regulation, Langford did what he was and will be tasked with all season – making plays.
“To see the ball go through the net, that's all I really need,” Langford said. “I just need to see that first shot go down and it's all good for me from there.”
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