Senior forward Juwan Morgan was locked in from the tip.
On the first Jacksonville University possession, Morgan swatted forward Jace Hogan's layup attempt at the rim just seconds into Saturday’s game at Simon Skjodt Assembly hall.
Moments later, the he received a pass on the block from sophomore guard Al Durham. Tip-toing the paint, Morgan dropped in a contested teardrop for IU’s first points of the night.
He was just getting started.
Morgan recorded 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, granting him just the second triple-double in program history as IU throttled the Dolphins 94-64 to finish non-conference play 11-2.
“It means a lot,” Morgan said postgame. “A triple-double is very hard to come by. You don't see too many people do that. This is the second one in school history. I really don't know what to say.”
As Morgan made his trek toward history, the IU bench visibly acknowledged the feat. With each assist, rebound or basket, Morgan’s teammates manifested their excitement through snapping towels, clapping and cheering.
Senior walk-on guard Johnny Jager kept Morgan in the loop as to how close he was during timeouts.
Inching closer, Morgan entered the under-eight minute media timeout just two points shy of the triple-double. As his exploits traversed the social media universe, the six foot eight inch forward received a lob pass from underneath the Jacksonville basket.
With a seamless tip that mimicked a volleyball set rather than a basketball shot, Morgan had his 10th point. The Waynesville, Missouri native had made history.
“Yeah, he kind of said he wanted to get another triple-double,” Morgan said of coach Archie Miller. “So he called that up and we executed it.”
Beyond Morgan, freshman guard Romeo Langford quietly piled up 15 points on six of nine shooting. Sophomore guard Al Durham and freshman forward Damezi Anderson poured in career high scoring outputs of 18 and nine points respectively.
Yet, with each shot that Langford, Durham or Anderson swished, Morgan remained the center of attention.
In his postgame press conference on the Big Ten Network, he referenced former Hoosiers Yogi Ferrell, Colin Hartman and Robert Johnson as leaders he’s learned from during his nearly four years in Bloomington.
Coming off a second team All-Big Ten season, it was nearly certain Morgan would be a leader for the 2018 squad. In August, his role was officially cemented when he and senior guard Zach McRoberts were named co-captains.
Morgan is undoubtedly the more vocal of the two captains. But for the better part of this season, his play has done the talking.
Morgan’s 15 points and five rebounds willed IU to a 68-67 win over the University of Louisville Dec. 8.
His 35-point outburst against Butler in the Crossroads Classic was a sight to be seen.
But Saturday night was different.
At the 6:29 mark, Morgan checked out for the final time. With the Hoosier faithful on their feet, roars of support engulfed Assembly Hall.
For a program with five national championships and 45 All-Americans, making history is far from a simple task. Saturday night, Morgan did just that.
“You just see all the hard work come into the light really,” Durham said of Morgan. “He's a hard worker. He does everything for us. He's just a great guy. I feel like, if anybody, he deserves this.”
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