In today’s edition of Banner Morning:
• Indiana’s smaller, quicker lineup excels in season-opener
• Juniors lead the way
• Phinisee getting his rhythm back
• Miller not pleased with defense
Welcome Hoosier fans to today’s edition of Banner Morning — your daily rundown of IU basketball news and notes.
I’m Dylan Wallace, and the Indiana Hoosiers are 1-0 to start the season.
Indiana’s 98-65 victory over Western Illinois Tuesday night was a good way to kick off the year. Al Durham, Armaan Franklin, Justin Smith, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Joey Brunk were the five starters, but as expected, Archie Miller threw a number of different lineups on the floor.
One that stood out was the group of Rob Phinisee, Al Durham, Jerome Hunter, Justin Smith and Trayce Jackson-Davis. The group came in with 10 minutes to go in the first half, and Indiana was trailing 15-12. Over the next three minutes of the game with those five on the floor, the Hoosiers went on a 16-0 run to break the game open, regaining a double-digit lead it would never relinquish.
In that run, all five players scored at least two points. Jackson-Davis, Durham and Hunter each had two, Phinisee had four and Smith had six. It was by far the most athletic lineup that took the floor Tuesday, and allowed Indiana to be extremely versatile on defense, switching 1-5 if needed, and got the team out and running in transition.
In just their 3-minute stretch, they forced three turnovers, had one block and scored six fastbreak points.
Archie Miller said postgame it was a quick lineup, stating, “It was very methodical, and they were able to do what they want. We started to challenge some passing lanes, we were able to get some deflections, we got out in transition and got a cushion, and that lineup, having some quickness to it, I thought helped.”
Individual performances were highlighted by the juniors.
Smith tied a career-high by scoring 24 points, accompanying that total with seven rebounds, two blocks and three steals. Then, Durham went a perfect 7-7 from the field, including 3-3 from deep and 4-4 from the charity stripe, en route to scoring 21 points.
Durham said, “My teammates were finding me. They did a good job with that. And they trusted me to knock down the shots and that’s what I did today. I feel like I prepared for this moment and it went my way today.”
Also scoring in double digits was Joey Brunk with 11 points and Phinisee with 14. Phinisee continues to deal with a lower abdominal injury, and after looking rusty in the exhibition a week ago, the sophomore guard looked a lot more like himself Tuesday night.
Phinisee said after the game, “I wouldn’t say I’m a hundred percent, but I’m still getting my rhythm back, and I feel like this game is a big confidence booster for me.”
Despite Indiana having no issue dealing with Western Illinois, Miller said he wasn’t very pleased with his team’s defense, literally calling them, “Not a very good defensive team right now.”
Indiana held Western Illinois to just 34% shooting from the field, 29% from three, forced 12 turnovers in which they scored 20 points and only allowed five fastbreak points. However, for them to be one of the nation’s top defensive forces, Miller sees more work that needs to be done, especially when the competition picks up in December.
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We’ll be back tomorrow with a new edition of Banner Morning. Until then, keep your elbows in, your eyes on the rim, and go Hoosiers.