The first half was one to forget in many facets Sunday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
The offense wasn’t clean, the turnovers were aplenty and there were only 43 combined points. Once the second half started, so did the Indiana offense.
Leading that offensive charge was senior guard Robert Johnson. After halftime, Johnson scored 11 of his game high 17 points.
Johnson’s performance on both sides of the floor was a big part in IU winning its third game in a row, a 66-46 win over the Northwestern Wildcats.
“Rob is Rob,” Miller said. “Rob is going to be a guy that we’re going to count on to score a little bit for us. He’s been asked to do a lot.”
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) January 15, 2018
At times this season, when the senior has been on his game, so have the Hoosiers. Johnson shot five-of-twelve from the field. Not shooting the lights out, but a big step above what Northwestern was doing. Along with his offensive production, he added six rebounds.
That stat proved big Sunday because of the absence of junior forward Juwan Morgan for much of the ballgame. Morgan picked up two fouls within the first two minutes and sat for much of the first half. That put more of an emphasis on the guards getting boards.
With sophomore De’Ron Davis out for the rest of the season, guards getting rebounds wasn’t just an emphasis against Northwestern. Rather from here on out.
“We’ve got a number and we’re trying,” Miller said. “From our perimeter guys we’re constantly hunting, trying to get over 12 defensive rebounds a game for our back court. I think it’s a big number to focus those guys in on.”
The Hoosiers needed something to lift them in the second half. Sunday was a measuring stick game for IU when looking at the broad scope of the conference standings.
Johnson was a big part of the answer in the second 20 minutes and will need to continue to be game in and game out.
Coming into the season he was going to be heavily relied upon to carry the offensive load. Morgan has done that in the frontcourt. In the backcourt, Johnson has been showing why he can be relied upon. Before Sunday’s contest, the senior was averaging just over 13 points per ballgame.
One of the most rewarding parts about Johnson is not only his offense. His defense has been stellar and the team is feeding off of that.
“When we’re out there, I can feel guys talking more, putting forth a better effort, trying to not let the man to their right or to their left down,” Johnson said. “So I think we’re more connected and there’s better communication.”
The Hoosiers will have their hands with the schedule moving forward. It will take a senior like Johnson to keep performing at the same level for them to continue to be successful.
He hasn’t lost confidence in himself and neither have his teammates.
“It’s the guys around me, the coaching staff, my teammates,” Johnson said “They never lost faith or confidence in my ability to shoot the ball, so I give all the thanks to them.”