After senior guard Devonte Green shot 0-6 from the field in a win over Northwestern on Wednesday, IU head coach Archie Miller had a talk with him.
Green started the game but sat the final 11 minutes as IU went on a run and didn’t look back.
The senior captain wasn't playing like himself, and as one of IU's main offensive contributors, his play was making scoring a struggle at times.
Miller challenged Green to compete as much in practice as in the game going forward. In the days and practices before the matchup with No. 11 Ohio State, Green did and it paid off.
Green scored 19 points Saturday afternoon to lead the Hoosiers to a 66-54 win over the Buckeyes. His performance also helped IU snap a four-game losing streak to Ohio State.
After starting six straight games but coming off the bench against the Buckeyes, Green played like the offensive force the Hoosiers need him to be to compete against the top of the Big Ten.
“The game never changes,” Green said. “Some days it's good, some days it's bad. And you've just got to bounce back from the bad ones. So that was the mindset I had coming into today, to the next day and to every day moving forward. I always want to have a better day than the last, bad or good.”
In the first half, Green was 1-4 from the floor with four points. He airballed the fourth shot he took, and some fans booed while others screamed for him to be pulled off the court.
But that shot attempt ended up being the last one Green would miss for the rest of the game. He only took four shots in the second half, each of them finding the bottom of the net.
Over a span of four minutes, Green scored seven straight points to give IU a one-point lead. The layup he hit at the end of the scoring spurt came as he caught the ball a foot behind the 3-point line, jabbed left, then went to his right.
As Green jumped from the beginning of the restricted arc, he came face-to-face with three Buckeyes’ defenders. When Ohio State junior forward Kaleb Wesson jumped straight up toward him with his arms up, Green brought the ball down and then back up to get off the attempt without a hand near to block it.
Once Green rose up from the ground after taking a tumble, he flexed and celebrated with his teammates. They fed off the effort he was providing in a crucial moment.
“There's nobody in that locker room that doesn't doubt the necessity he is to our team,” junior forward Justin Smith said. “He can do a lot of different things. He can score, pass, defend. I mean, like he's a very, very important part to our team. We need him in these big games, and he showed up.”
With 10 seconds left in the game, Green found himself all alone down court and softly dunked the ball. As Green landed, he touched the court with two hands and soaked in the moment.
When Green ultimately walked off the court, he waved his arms up and down as the crowd roared. Green knew how well he performed and how important his play was.
Through the ups and downs a season provides, Green's success may be the deciding factor of how good IU can be.
“We just wake up tomorrow and see if he does a good job tomorrow,” Miller said. “It is what it is. When he plays well, we’re a different team.”
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