Indiana was in a dark place.
After a prolonged losing streak, culminating in a devastating loss to Rutgers, the Hoosiers had hit rock bottom. Fans were questioning everyone involved with the program, starting with head coach Archie Miller and leading up to Athletic Director Fred Glass. Indiana needed something to go their way, something to get this season back on track and generate some excitement for the program.
And they got it.
Coming into their road game against the #6 ranked Michigan State Spartans as 14-point underdogs, no one thought Indiana had a chance. Even the most diehard Hoosier fans were probably just hoping for a close game. Yet Indiana did that and much more, grabbing a 79-75 overtime road victory over the Spartans and persuading us not to write this season off too early. The win represents Indiana’s third quadrant-one win, making them just the sixth team in all of college basketball to record three quadrant one wins.
In their recent losing streak, Indiana struggled to overcome adversity. Whenever their opponents would go on a run, Indiana folded. Perhaps that is what made this win all the more impressive as the Hoosiers’ squad had to overcome adversity the entire night to secure the win. When Michigan State raced out to a 7-2 lead after just two minutes of action, many maybe thought that would be a sign of things to come for the rest of the night. However, Indiana fought back and hung around for most of the first half.
Then came perhaps the biggest blow of the night.
Just when you thought the injury bug couldn’t possibly get any worse for the Hoosiers, it reared its ugly head yet again. Juwan Morgan, the team’s senior leader and co-captain, went down battling for a lose ball with 6:04 remaining in the first half and would not return with a shoulder injury. Indiana was forced to rely on big man De’Ron Davis, who had played just 11 minutes over the last seven games due to a variety of injuries; he made the most of the opportunity. Davis would go on to record 12 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists on the game, including knocking down 3-of-4 from the free-throw line to seal the win.
Several other players deserve their fair share of praise in this win as well. Justin Smith had one of his best games on the season, recording a double-double of 13 points and 10 rebounds, as well as 3 blocks, two of which came at crucial points towards the end of the game. Al Durham continued to emerge as an irreplaceable piece to this team, recording 14 points including a trio of three-pointers. Devonte Green, reinstated after a 3 game suspension, also recorded 11 points off the bench, knocking down 3-of-4 from behind the arc.
And we can’t move on without mentioning Romeo. While the box score might indicate he struggled, converting just 6 of his 18 attempts from the floor, the box score doesn’t always tell the full story. Langford was huge for this team down the stretch, whether it was knocking down clutch 3-point baskets or recovering on defense to get the block, he stepped up when his team needed him.
Indiana will now have to turn their sights to an Iowa team that will be traveling to Bloomington Thursday night for a crucial game. It’s imperative that Indiana does not get comfortable after this win and, instead, use this as a building block to string some wins together.
In a season that was beginning to look hopeless, Indiana has found a light at the end of the tunnel.