If you were looking for a comfortable, reassuring performance from the IU men's basketball team following Sunday's loss at Arkansas, then Tuesday night's game against the University of Texas at Arlington was not an ideal 40 minutes of basketball.
The Hoosiers struggled to put away the Mavericks throughout the game, as the visitors pulled within one basket of the Hoosiers during the game's closing minutes.
Despite suffering more injuries and playing with a six-man, and then a five-man, rotation down the stretch, Coach Archie Miller's team was able to improve to 4-1 on the season.
Here are three takeaways from IU's 78-64 win against Texas-Arlington.
1. IU's injury situation got a lot worse Tuesday night.
Even before the ball was tipped, the Hoosiers lost another player to injury. Junior forward De'Ron Davis, who logged a season-high 23 minutes in the loss at Arkansas, did not dress for Tuesday's game and instead was on the sideline with a boot on his left foot.
Davis joined junior guard Devonte Green, senior guard Zach McRoberts and freshman forwards Race Thompson and Jerome Hunter as players not available for the game.
Miller told reporters after the game that Davis had achilles soreness and pain while running, which made him unavailable. This pain was not in the same leg affected by Davis' torn achilles last season. Miller said Davis will be evaluated in the coming days by the IU training staff.
Then, sophomore guard Al Durham suffered a fall on his back during the first half against the Mavericks. While Durham did play 11 minutes and scored six points, he did not play during the second half of the game.
Miller said Durham said he couldn't go back in the game and had no further news on his injury.
Lastly, freshman guard Romeo Langford had to leave the game for the final 4:25 after being hit in the nose with the back of a Texas-Arlington player's head. Langford was bleeding profusely from his nose and was seen after the game with cotton balls in both of his nostrils. Miller said after the game he was not sure if Langford's nose was broken or not.
This large quantity of injuries meant IU had to finish the game with a five-man rotation featuring freshmen guard Rob Phinisee and forward Damezi Anderson, sophomore forward Justin Smith and senior forwards Evan Fitzner and Juwan Morgan.
Miller only played seven players during the game, opting to leave players like freshman forward Jake Forrester and sophomore forward Clifton Moore on the bench.
2. IU's turnovers and poor distance shooting made conditions ripe for an upset loss.
The Hoosiers did not play well for large stretches against the Mavericks.
IU finished with just two made three-pointers from 12 attempts, and IU committed 13 first-half turnovers and 18 total turnovers. Fortunately for the Hoosiers, the Mavericks made just eight of their 25 first-half shots, including a dismal 1-12 showing shooting three-pointers in the opening period.
Junior guard Edric Dennis led a furious comeback attempt for Texas-Arlington in the second half, scoring 13 points and making three three-pointers to help close the deficit to just one point. But, the Mavericks scored just two points in the final 5:12 of the game as the Hoosiers went on a 17-4 scoring run.
"I think we got lackadaisical. They were just taking the ball from us," Morgan said. "They were just making whatever they wanted, doing whatever they wanted on the offensive end. I was just trying to rally the guys together, get them together to really just start fighting, just pull that dog out of everybody."
Texas-Arlington also committed several early fouls in the second half, which allowed IU to score 10 second-half points from the free throw line to help make sure it avoided an embarrassing home loss.
Anderson also hit a three-pointer with less than four minutes left to extend the Hoosier lead to 10 points, effectively ending the visitors' comeback hopes.
"He does have confidence in his shot," Miller said. "He believes he can make it. We believe he can make it."
3. When it mattered the most, Juwan Morgan delivered for the Hoosiers.
Given the limited rotation of players used by Miller, IU was going to have to rely on Morgan to help see out Tuesday's win. He didn't disappoint.
Morgan finished with a double-double, scoring a team-high 23 points to go along with 10 rebounds in 36 minutes.
During the second half, the longest stretch of game time in between points scored by Morgan was 3:33.
"We outsized them a little bit. We were just trying to take advantage of the switches," Morgan said. "I think every time I set the ball screen I was trying to slip it into the post. My teammates found me and I found them in return."
After getting in foul trouble during Sunday's loss, Morgan showed more discipline Tuesday to avoid either being benched by Miller or having to play more conservatively on the court. He only committed three fouls in the game and after committing his second foul in the first half, Morgan made sure he didn't put his team in a bad position by not fouling again until there was 7:39 left in the game.
Morgan also put together one of his most efficient performances in an IU uniform, making nine of his 11 shots.
If IU's injury outlook remains bleak, even more will be expected of the senior leader Friday against the University of California at Davis.
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