Skip to Content, Navigation, or Footer.
Monday, April 15
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

OPINION: IU men’s basketball discovered you’re allowed to play better in the second half


No matter how uninteresting it was to the neutral observer, IU’s 68-60 victory over Butler University in the Crossroads Classic was must-watch television for Hoosier fans. 

Where else can you find such a celebration of Indiana’s rich basketball history? More importantly, judging from head coach Archie Miller’s record against Purdue, how else is IU supposed to pick up a win over an in-state rival? 

IU opened with back-to-back 3-pointers by senior guard Al Durham and sophomore guard Armaan Franklin, reassuring audiences that last week’s lights-out shooting performance versus the University of North Alabama wasn’t just a pleasant dream.

However, the Bulldogs also enjoyed long-range success early on and refused to be ensnared in the Hoosiers’ usual defensive stranglehold. 

Butler trotted out a significantly depleted roster, but by only having four of its players score a basket in the first half IU negated its depth advantage. The Bulldogs’ 37-32 halftime lead confirmed the long-debated belief that, yes, you do actually need five athletes to compete in a basketball game. 

Whenever the Hoosiers were on the precipice of a scoring run, an offensive foul or errant pass would throw frigid water on their budding hot streak. I can understand viewers’ frustration seeing so many unforced errors, but this is the Crossroads Classic after all. What could be more classic than IU turning the ball over? 

That being said, Miller and company exited the locker room a completely new unit. 

The cruel mistress that is momentum betrayed Butler, spawning a 17-3 run for IU. The Hoosiers stopped letting their own sneakers get in the way of their dribbles on offense and started getting hands in the Bulldogs’ faces on defense.  

Neither team shot better than 55% from the free throw line, but IU reached the charity stripe far more frequently. Once their shooting ran cold, the Bulldogs couldn’t rely on any easy buckets to keep up with the Hoosiers. 

It probably shouldn’t have taken nearly thirty minutes of play for its massive depth advantage to manifest, but IU is nothing if not adept at overcoming its own sloppiness. 

Sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis collected his standard issue 21 points, while Durham and junior forward Race Thompson both cracked double digits. 

Meanwhile, Franklin had his second consecutive career-high scoring performance, contributing 20 points and knocking down five 3-pointers. 

I doubt Franklin will supersede Jackson-Davis as the cornerstone of IU’s offense any time soon, but it might make sense to center a basketball team around the lone player who can reliably put the ball through the hoop. 

Regardless of who emerges as the star for the Hoosiers, freshman guard Trey Galloway’s ability to facilitate plays will be critical. Somebody has to shuttle the ball between Jackson-Davis down low and Franklin out wide, so Galloway’s five assists were a huge help. 

Comparing this matchup to David and Goliath would undersell Butler — and let’s be honest, really oversell IU — but there was a clear disparity in physical size on the court. 

A ceaseless, flailing swarm of Hoosier arms logged six steals and eight blocks, with five rejections coming courtesy of Jackson-Davis. 

Somehow, that height advantage didn’t show when battling for boards. 

The Bulldogs out-rebounded the Hoosiers 35-30, snagging 10 on offense. While I’ll never turn down the opportunity to watch more of IU’s relentless defense, letting your opponent dominate the glass won’t be a viable strategy in Big Ten competition. 

This year’s contest with Butler definitely may not have lived up to the pandemonium of recent Crossroads Classics, but an often overlooked side effect of being a good team is playing in boring games against outmatched squads. 

I can’t say the future is terribly exciting for IU, but it’s certainly promising. 

Get stories like this in your inbox