The past year in Indiana athletics gave us a little bit of everything. This summer, the HN staff is recounting the best from the year. Each week, we’re revealing a new game, moment, or memory which stood out to us as worthy of a spot in our #HNTop10. It all culminates in August with our best moment from the year.
Up next in our countdown? A massive Indiana Volleyball win over Michigan in Steve Aird’s first year.
The 2018-2019 Indiana men’s basketball season was anything but what most people expected.
Despite a dismal 16-15 record in the 2017-2018 campaign, the return of Juwan Morgan and a top-10 nationally ranked recruiting class brought tremendous hope for Indiana in year two of the Archie Miller era.
That hope was most exemplified through incoming freshman shooting guard Romeo Langford. With Langford donning the cream and crimson, anything was considered possible.
The same flash and talent he showcased in high school was also seen on a late, 9 p.m. Tuesday tip-off at home against No. 19 Wisconsin on February 26.
Entering the game with a 13-14 record, it was do-or-die for the Hoosiers. Any slight bit of hope for an NCAA Tournament appearance required a win in that game.
The Badgers and Hoosiers battled it out until about midnight — through two overtimes. With Indiana’s roster short-handed as Morgan, Justin Smith and Al Durham all fouled out, Langford came through when he was needed most.
Following Wisconsin guard D’Mitrik Trice’s three free throws to tie the game at 73 with 9.6 seconds to go, it was Langford’s time to step up.
Crossing half court with a little less than six seconds left, Langford hesitated at the top of the key, crossed over from left to right — fooling Trice and Khalil Iverson — and broke free to drive to the right side of the rim.
Iverson stayed tight on Langford with Nate Reuvers coming over to help, but the outstretched body of Langford put up the game winning layup with his dominant right hand with just under a second left on the clock:
FINAL 2/OT | Indiana 75, No. 19 Wisconsin 73.
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) February 27, 2019
The shot was possibly the defining moment of his short Hoosier career. Langford had other clutch plays throughout his lone season at Indiana, but this was his one true game winning shot as a Hoosier.
He had a number of opportunities to have one, especially in the games prior to Wisconsin.
“I mean, just finally I hit one,” Langford said. “I know the past two times I had it in my hand at the end of the game, it didn’t come out as we planned. I just learned from mistakes in the past two, settling for a jump shot, and I felt like they couldn’t stop me getting to the rim. That’s exactly what I did, and I made the shot.”
Not only did the bucket seal a win, but it also at the time restored hope and promise in Indiana’s season, just like Langford was assumed to do for the program as a whole.
The Wisconsin win was Indiana’s first home victory since Illinois on January 3, beginning a five-game win streak to end the regular season. The crucial win was also immediately followed by a 73-72 win over No. 6 Michigan State, which put Indiana back in the NCAA Tournament picture, as the Hoosiers made one final effort to salvage their season.
In the end, it may not have been enough to save it all, but Langford’s clutch moment and excellent performance won’t be forgotten anytime soon.
Langford’s play against the Badgers was some of his best as a Hoosier. The freshman racked up 22 points on eight of 17 shooting while also adding on seven rebounds and two assists to go along with the game winner.
Against Wisconsin, Romeo Langford lived up to his billing and let his play spurn the criticism while delivering one of the most exciting moments in recent seasons of IU basketball, and that’s why it earned the No. 8 spot in our #HNTop10.