DURHAM, N.C. — As IU limped out of an abysmal first half in Tuesday’s 90-69 loss at No. 3 Duke, the second frame brought a renewed sense of focus – at least until the clock started ticking.
After totaling 17 turnovers in the first half, the Hoosiers added another three in the first 2:39 of the second.
Perturbed with his team’s effort, IU Coach Archie Miller called timeout. Visibly upset after junior guard Devonte Green missed him on a simple transition pass, Juwan Morgan scooped up the ball and slammed it into the ground with a forceful right fist.
It was that kind of night for the cream and crimson.
“We didn’t have ones that obviously were travels or were tough calls, we had some ones where they threw a chest pass to the guy and he’s on SportsCenter,” Miller said.
The Hoosiers finished Tuesday’s contest with 20 turnovers, all of which translated into 24 Blue Devils points.
Initially, Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski’s squad forced the issue with a 1-2-2 trap. From there the Hoosiers’ guard play swiftly regressed.
“We knew it was coming, just had to execute better,” Miller said of the pressure.
Defensively, Duke freshman forward Zion Williamson throttled the Hoosiers for nearly every second of his 30 minutes played.
An athletic specimen at 6-foot-7, 285 pounds, Williamson went up, down and around Archie Miller’s pack-line defense, producing highlight reel dunks and finishes with nearly every touch to the tune of a game-high 25 points.
In the closing minutes of the first half, the Spartanburg, South Carolina, native flew into the open court. As he neared the IU three point line, he peered back toward his defensive basket – as if to see if a foul had been called. It hadn’t.
Launching his massive frame into the rafters at Cameron Indoor Stadium, Williamson threw down a windmill dunk with a violence that shook the floors of the arena. The Blue Devil faithful roared in approval.
“He’s just a freak athlete,” Morgan said. “He knows how to get to his spots, as all great players do, and I try to pride myself on defense and it’s tough to take a guy like that.”
Fellow freshman RJ Barrett added another 22 points, while Tre Jones and Cam Reddish notched 15 and 13-point outings.
Early foul trouble once more curbed both Morgan and De’Ron Davis’ outputs in the post. The duo played just eight and three minutes respectively in the opening frame.
The Hoosiers did respond to some degree in the second half, outscoring the Blue Devils 40-37, but the first half damage annihilated any chance of a comeback.
Evan Fitzner was a lone bright spot, tallying 12 points while knocking down all three of his three point attempts.
On a night that Hoosier fans hoped would end in a bang, it mercifully ended with a whimper.
“It’s a brutal place to play not because of the crowd or the environment, but they do have an unbelievable coach and they have an unbelievable team on most nights that you have to go up against,” Miller said. “That’s what we dealt with tonight. We dealt with a team that can win the National Championship tonight and I saw that firsthand.”
IU returns to action Saturday afternoon in its Big Ten Conference opener against Northwestern at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Tipoff is scheduled for 1 p.m.
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