A Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall crowd waving multi-colored light sticks and balloons, one that was loud right from the tip and deafening throughout the first half, had suddenly fallen quiet and tense. The lead was evaporating, draining all the way to three. It took a bad call to get them back into it.
Junior forward Justin Smith was called for a shooting foul he didn’t commit; he didn’t touch Florida State University guard Trent Forrest.
The crowd — raising up to the ends of the lower level and students lining the upper balcony for the first time all season, bringing an energy IU had lacked throughout its first seven games — roared down on the officials.
Forrest missed both free throws. In a flash, senior guard Devonte Green made a layup on the other end and got the foul.
The crowd was back. So was IU’s firepower. The student section rained down the Seminoles' own trademark tomahawk chop as IU put its foot on the gas one final time.
IU opened the season with seven cupcakes, a strength of schedule ranking 343rd in the nation. That all fell away when No. 17 Florida State took the floor at Assembly Hall. IU had its first test.
When IU fell behind early, it found a run to put it in the lead and another to extend it. When Florida State creeped back into the game in the second half, it found one last burst to end it.
IU never trailed after the 14:14 mark of the first half. In front of a boisterous Assembly Hall crowd, against a Florida State team built on size, it was IU’s own, along with sharp-shooting from its playmaking senior guard that proved in front of a national audience what it can do in a 80-64 win.
IU began the game in an 11-4 hole. It all shifted at the under-16 timeout, it was the start of a 14-1 run. A run where IU’s defense held Florida State without a basket for six minutes, finally fulfilling on the improvements head coach Archie Miller preached throughout the first month.
When Florida State came back, IU’s offense falling stagnant in the second half, the phantom foul call on Smith started an 11-0 run. Green heated up one more time after his own turnovers played a role in Florida State’s comeback.
He hit a stepback jumper off a spin move and an off-balance three while trying to draw a foul. Those are shots he practices, at least not with Miller watching.
“Every shot is a good shot,” Green said.
He finished with a career high of 30 points, including a 5-7 mark from three.
“He was the best player on the floor tonight without question,” Miller said.
This was the one Miller wanted to win. It was a chance for IU to prove itself.
After a 7-0 start, facing all but one team ranked outside the top 200, Florida State allowed Miller and his team a chance to show it belonged. The potential and growth it showed throughout those first seven games were for real.
“You want to see what you’re made of, and I thought our guys rose to the occasion," Miller said.
When IU was outmatched in size, it proved it could rebound anyway, out rebounding Florida State 35-25. It cut off lanes for Florida State to get inside leading to travels, and on the other end IU got inside itself, leading to 38 free throws.
Throughout IU’s first seven games, Miller didn’t think his defense was where it needed to be. He wanted an elite defensive team, and he didn’t think he had it yet. But Miller’s defense took the steps he had been searching for and stepped up against its toughest opponent.
IU held Florida State to 47% shooting and 37% from three.
Nearly everything Miller had asked his team to do in order to win a game like this, it did.
It took the lead with 14:14 to play in the first half and never lost it. It was a complete win, IU’s most of the season, against the best team it's played.
“A lot of people have been saying we have been facing littler teams, how are they going to do against the big dogs,” freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said. “Well, you witnessed it, so I would just say that we just got to play hard and just do our thing.”
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