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‘He’s a gamer, man’: Romeo Langford shows perseverance in loss to Purdue

Romeo Langford drives to the basket during Indiana’s loss to Purdue. (Mark Timko/HN)

When the second half got under way, Romeo Langford was nowhere to be found.

He wasn’t on the floor, on the bench or anywhere near the floor. Instead, he was being ushered down a tunnel with strength coach Clif Marshall and team doctor Steve Ahlfeld after having thrown up prior to the start of the second half. But at the under-16 media timeout, Langford returned the bench with a smile on his face.

The Hoosiers were down just three at that point and gave the sell-out crowd at Assembly Hall some belief they could finally write the wrongs of the embarrassment at Minnesota. But, Langford couldn’t quite will the Hoosiers back as they lost their fourth straight game, 48-46.

“He got sick coming out of halftime,” IU coach Archie Miller said. “He got sick on the bench. I’m not sure if that’s something obviously bigger or just the game or sometimes you don’t — sometimes you can just be exhausted. I wasn’t sure whether he was coming back, but he ended up coming back, and I think he felt pretty good after that.”

While Langford may not have attempted a field goal in the second half, his impact on the game was important. He scored a game-high 16 points and was 9-of-10 from the free throw line. The freshman from New Albany, Indiana also drew seven fouls impacting the game in other ways than making field goals.

But it wasn’t necessarily what he did scoring the basketball that had the biggest impact. It was his ability to show off the tremendous skill he possesses. The step-back three at the end of the first half wowed the crowd. Then it was putting Purdue guard Nojel Eastern in a spin cycle later in the second half. He can make plays that just make you go “wow.”

Langford has gone through his ups and downs in his freshman season, but will be better for it moving forward. He’s also backed up why mock drafts have him as high as they do.

“He’s a gamer, man,” Miller said. “He had a great couple days leading into it. I think no one understands more than him how important he is to the team and also how important he has to play. Certain things that he did tonight, whether it was his defense, whether it was his nine defensive rebounds, gets to the line 10 times during the game, it was obviously if you look at it, it’s a hard game to score in. Didn’t matter who was on the floor tonight.”

Tuesday was not one of Langford’s best shooting nights from the floor, yet he was still one of the best players on the floor. He shot just 2-of-6 and made just one of this three attempted 3-pointers. The freshman also was tied for the second in the game with nine rebounds, just two behind teammate Juwan Morgan.

Langford has now faced Purdue twice, and if he leaves for the NBA it may be the only times he plays against his in-state rival. In both games, he has gotten the assignment of the Boilermakers’ best defender in Eastern. But that’s nothing new for Langford and he continues to adapt and produce in those situations.

“I think at times people underestimate how hard the other team tries to not allow him to do what he wants to do, as well,” Miller said. “But he moved around tonight. We had him coming off a lot more running around, we had him coming off of a lot more movement. They do a really good job of containing and keeping him in front of them, and he had to be a willing passer, which I thought he was.”

Whatever Langford was playing through or dealing with, he was able to turn in an impressive performance. It ultimately wasn’t enough, but he left it all on the floor.

“But he was aggressive,” Miller said. “He played hard. He played really hard tonight.”

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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