The middle-aged man sitting in the stands of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall wore a red IU pullover and black dress pants. He yelled “money” with as much force as he could muster. In the first half, junior guard Al Durham caught the ball at the top of the circle and lined up a wide open 3-point attempt.
It was nothing but net, and the man cheered. It was the first made 3-pointer of the night for IU men’s basketball, but it was far from the last. IU defeated Louisiana Tech University on Monday night 88-75 behind a strong first-half performance.
“We had a week where we amped it up,” Durham said. “We wanted to come in and make a statement. We wanted to play hard and wanted to set the tone early and not wait.”
The Hoosiers scored six 3-pointers alone in the first half.
In wins over Princeton University and Portland State University, IU only made three 3-pointers in each game. The first-half performance was encouraging to see for the Hoosiers after moments in the season when the offense struggled.
As the sixth win of the season for the Hoosiers, the Bulldogs were thought of to be more of a challenge coming in, ranked 88th in KenPom, a college basketball statistical website. The next closest opponent in terms of ranking for IU was Princeton at 218.
Throughout the first half, IU was having its way in transition and hitting open shots. Senior guard Devonte Green found his groove, and there wasn’t much slowing down the offense. At one point, IU led Louisiana Tech by 23 points in the first half.
“For our team, I thought we got off to a really good start,” IU head coach Archie Miller said. “Our guards did a really good job early in the game attacking in transition. I thought they made the game pretty easy early, and we were able to build a comfortable lead.”
It looked like IU was going to run away with the game in a hurry. That was until Louisiana Tech started hitting shots, and the IU defense broke down at times. In the second half, the defensive trend continued, and the offense followed suit.
IU allowed Louisiana Tech to cut the lead to as few as nine points. But each time the Bulldogs looked to complete the comeback effort, the Hoosiers found an answer.
Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis took advantage of the height difference in the paint and had his way in the second half. He scored 17 points and pulled in seven rebounds alone in the second 20 minutes. He finished with his third double-double of the season.
In the prior five games, Miller consistently mentioned how his team would make adjustments at halftime, and that’s what contributed to the wins. This time around, it was the first-half performance that helped IU remain in control.
The last two times IU started 6-0, the team went on to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament. It’s too soon in the season to talk about IU’s fate come March but Miller is happy to remain undefeated going forward.
“This is one, regardless of how you feel you played, we won the game, and a few months from now this will be one that's more valuable than hopefully most people realize,” Miller said.
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