When junior guard Al Durham made his way to the bench, junior forward Justin Smith was waiting for him. On the prior defensive possession, Durham swatted a shot attempt off the backboard.
The block ignited the crowd and was one of four blocks on the night for IU men’s basketball. As Durham approached Smith, the pair paused for a moment, looked at each other and high-fived as Durham pointed toward where he had the block.
Just four days after IU head coach Archie Miller expressed his displeasure with his team’s defense, IU defeated Troy University 100-63 for its best performance on both sides of the ball this season.
The Hoosiers never trailed and overwhelmed the Trojans inside and out throughout the night.
“Good win by our team,” Miller said. “Started the game much better defensively than we have in our previous last couple outings in particular. I thought we were unselfish.”
On a night where sophomore guard Rob Phinisee was sidelined with strep throat, senior guard Devonte Green saw his first minutes of the season. He only played for roughly 20 minutes but was tied with Durham in leading the team with four assists.
His shot still looked to be a work in progress in his first five on five action of the season, but he looked comfortable running the offense in spurts. In his 11 minutes played in the first half, he missed each 3-point attempt and didn’t make a field goal until burying a mid-range jumper before the halftime buzzer sounded.
The Hoosiers also scored 58 points in the first half which were the most by Miller’s team in a half during his tenure.
Despite the shooting woes, Green was sometimes the lone guard on the floor and showed how much his playmaking ability matters. There were multiple times throughout the game where he’d have a flashy pass to set up a better shot opportunity for his teammates.
He’s usually known for his shot-making ability, but with the backcourt still not at 100%, Green will see more time with the ball in his hands.
“It's a big, big help,” Smith said. “It's another shooter, another spacer, another ball handler. Also, defensively he (Green) makes things happen defensively and offensively. We're glad to have him back. We're looking forward to him getting back into a rhythm.”
Whether it was second chance opportunities or in transition, IU used the five-out that Troy played on offense against itself. The Hoosiers had 15 offensive rebounds and outrebounded the Trojans by 13.
The Trojans couldn’t contain the likes of freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis on the glass, who finished with his second career double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds. Jackson-Davis had a couple put back dunks and made his presence felt on almost every possession.
“Really on offense it's just my teammates putting me in the right position to score and then really just anticipation for rebound,” Jackson-Davis said. “Just got to anticipate where the ball is coming from, and I thought I did that well tonight.”
Through four games, the Hoosiers are defeating the teams they’re supposed to. It’s difficult for IU to take away much from these early games, but it’s the first 4-0 start since the 2014-15 season.
Princeton University is up next Wednesday night, and if Phinisee is healthy, it’ll be the first time that IU will have everyone ready at its disposal.
“If we can get him back and get him into the mix and start to get some chemistry into our back court, I think that would be really, really important for this team as we head to middle of November, end of November,” Miller said.
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