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Defining the biggest moments of 2019-20 for each Indiana Hoosier

Everybody has that game. That big shot, that unconscious shooting performance, that moment that defines a career or a season.

For a team that was 11 players deep, there were plenty of those “season defining” moments for each player on the floor. Whether that was against North Alabama, Notre Dame, Michigan State or others, everyone had that moment.

As we all sit around and wish there were basketball to watch, let’s relive the best moments of the Indiana basketball season with every player’s best moment from the 2019-20 campaign.

Armaan Franklin – Notre Dame

Armaan Franklin holds the finish after a three-point attempt at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

After preseason injuries to Devonte Green and Rob Phinisee, Franklin was thrust into the starting role on day one as a true freshman. He started in the backcourt with Al Durham and held his own for the early part of the season before both guards were able to return to the lineup.

But it wasn’t until his return to his hometown, Indianapolis, that we saw what Franklin was truly capable of. Early in the season, he made good decisions, was a mid-range specialist, but struggled from beyond the arc. That changed against Notre Dame.

Indiana had as large as a 17-point lead over the Irish before letting that slip away. Notre Dame led by five with under three minutes left. Then Franklin took over.

It started with a three to cut the deficit to two. Then a charge, followed by an assist to Trayce Jackson-Davis to tie the game. With 15.7 seconds to go, Durham threw the ball to Franklin in the corner, who stepped up and buried what proved to be the game winning three to give Indiana a win they needed to have.

“Al had enough confidence in me to swing it one more, so I just went up with it and knocked it down,” Franklin said.

Franklin entered the game shooting 14 percent from three, but he finished the Notre Dame game 4-of-5 from long range and a career-high 17 points.

He showed improvement in his three-point shooting as the year went on, including another good game in Indianapolis in the Big Ten Tournament. Next season, Franklin can help contribute to what could be real, talented depth for Indiana off the bench. If he cuts down on his turnovers and can hit jumpers to help extend the defense, he will continue to earn more and more minutes.

Trayce Jackson-Davis – Minnesota

Jackson-Davis was fantastic all season. He finished averaging 13.5 points and 8.4 rebounds per game. His first standout game was against an undersized Nebraska team, when he scored 25 points and added 15 rebounds in an overtime win. However, that wasn’t his season defining moment.

Like I said, that Nebraska team didn’t have much height or size inside. But Minnesota did. Daniel Oturu is one of the best big men in the country, and in a must-win game on the road, Jackson-Davis didn’t back down from the challenge.

He finished with a career-high 27 points and added 16 rebounds against Oturu, who was held to 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Jackson-Davis capped off his remarkable night by slamming home a poster dunk over Isaiah Ihnen late in the second half.

Jackson-Davis had plenty of incredible moments, but most of them happened in Bloomington. Archie Miller said many times that he needed Jackson-Davis to travel, and in a huge game at Minnesota, he did just that.

“We have to find a way to bring Trayce with us on the road here eventually,” Miller said after a blowout loss to Michigan. “We have to find a way to have one of our best players help the cause. He’ll do it, he’ll be fine.”

Jackson-Davis was already a double-double producer down low. You can only imagine battling with all the talented big men in the Big Ten will prepare him for year two at Indiana.

Jerome Hunter – Maryland

Last year was tough for Hunter. He had to sit out the entire year with a leg injury that kept him from participating in anything basketball related. As this season went along, we started to see the Hunter that was a four-star recruit out of Pickerington, Ohio.

Jerome Hunter flexes after hitting a big three pointer against No. 9 Penn State. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Hunter was a 37 percent 3-point shooter in Big Ten play this season. He hit big shots against Penn State and Illinois down the stretch, but it all began against Maryland in late January.

Indiana went down double digits early, but with a spirited effort from guys such as Hunter and Devonte Green, Indiana got the lead back in the second half. Hunter finished the game with a season-high 12 points, including three 3-pointers. However, he committed a costly turnover down the stretch with Indiana trying to break the press up six.

This game showed that Hunter can knock down threes, but that he also isn’t afraid of having the ball in his hands late. He did turn the ball over, but we saw him make many great plays late because he plays with no fear.

“He’s added value in a lot of ways,” Miller said after the Maryland loss. “He’s doing a better job defensively. He ends up getting double figures here tonight but made three big shots. He can add some offensive firepower.”

Miller loved the defensive intensity that Hunter played with, adding that the offense will come eventually. He’s too talented of an offensive threat to stay quiet for long, and we saw that in Big Ten play. Hunter has a chance to be an important two-way contributor next season.

Damezi Anderson – Troy

Anderson started the season hot and looked to have made that sophomore jump that most expected from him, including Miller. His shot looked improved and he looked more confident on the floor.

“He’s so much more prepared mentally to know what he’s dealing with,” Miller said. “Without question one of the gifts he has is he can shoot the ball.”

Against North Alabama, Anderson knocked down a pair of threes and finished with 10 points. He followed that up against Troy. He scored a career-high 14 points and hit two more 3-pointers. Four of his eight made 3-pointers came in this two-game span.

Anderson’s playing time diminished as the year went on, and his future with Indiana is still a little bit up in the air, but he had a few games that showed Hoosier fans what he is capable of.

Rob Phinisee – Nebraska

Phinisee dealt with some early season nagging injuries that slowed what was expected to be a big sophomore jump in production. There’s no denying when Phinisee is on his game, the team is much better and more organized.

“I do think hopefully he continues to build day by day and gets better and better,” Miller said after the North Alabama game.

After another setback, forcing him to miss four more games before returning against UConn, he looked to be fully back from injury against Nebraska in December.

Rob Phinisee warms up before facing Nebraska. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

He shocked everyone against the Huskers. He scored a season-high 16 points, added four assists, two threes and shot 60 percent from the floor. The defense struggled, but he seemed to have the offense organized in a way fans hadn’t seen in the four games he missed.

If Phinisee can have a healthy offseason, there is a lot of promise about the jump he could make as an upperclassman. As Phinisee goes, the offense goes. There have been a lot of comparisons to Yogi Ferrell in his time at Indiana. Whether those are fair or unfair, he could take a jump to Ferrell level as a junior.

Race Thompson – Minnesota

Thompson has had similar injury issues to Phinisee. We finally saw him healthy at the end of last season, and he made an instant impact on the defensive end and on the glass. That’s where Thompson again made his presence felt this season.

He scored 10 points against Iowa, showing his improvement on the offensive end of the floor. But it was his effort back home in Minnesota that was his season-defining moment.

Thompson scored nine points and added an impressive 10 rebounds. He had one block and helped Jackson-Davis hold Oturu to 11 points. He helped Indiana win the points in the paint battle, 34-24, and the second-chance points, 10-0.

“It’s easy to come home and play because I have all the support from family and friends,” Thompson said after the Minnesota win. “It feels like I’m in a high school game playing basketball, which is a lot of fun.”

Thompson’s toughness and grit is something that defines what Miller is looking for from his teams. If more people can follow Thompson’s model and be scrappy as he was for most of this season, this team will become someone no one wants to play next season.

Al Durham – Western Illinois

Durham was a solid contributor all season. He was named co-captain by Miller before the season, and as the season went along, you could see the leadership from Durham over a team that at times, looked lost.

He got off to such a great start to the season, setting him up for a successful junior year. It all started day one against Western Illinois. Durham scored a season-high 21 points and made every shot he attempted, a perfect 7-of-7. He was 3-of-3 from long range.

“Al’s an important part to what we do, he’s a leader on our team,” Miller said after the WIU win. “I think he did a nice job with our team in terms of leading them.”

No, the opener wasn’t the most important moment of Durham’s season, but it showed Indiana fans that he had improved over the offseason and he continued to play well the rest of the season. He averaged 9.8 points per game and shot 38 percent from beyond the arc.

Durham will be a key contributor next season, obviously. With one year of captaincy under his belt, expect Durham to show a lot of leadership next year with a much older team than they played with this season.

Justin Smith – Northwestern

Smith is similar to Green in the way he can drive fans crazy but can also get them so excited when he is at his best. He started the season dunking all over the inferior opponents, but he hit a wall around the new year.

Justin Smith drives to the hoop against Northwestern. He scored 18 points in the win. (Kurt Spitler/HN)

Indiana had lost two straight and needed to beat a struggling Northwestern team in Bloomington. But Northwestern led for a lot of the second half, including a 50-40 lead with 7:05 to go. Smith scored 18 points with six rebounds but turned the ball over five times. Earlier in the game, Smith was caught on camera arguing with Miller on the sideline.

In the games following, Smith never had more than three turnovers, and had one or fewer in 12 of the final 17 games. The sideline incident wasn’t his brightest moment, but it appears he bought in after that, making smarter decisions and contributing in a positive way.

“If the ball doesn’t come to me offensively, I’ve got to make my impact somewhere else,” Smith said after the Penn State win. “And I’m OK with that. Whether it’s getting steals, getting rebounds, whatever is needed of me.”

If Smith can continue to be smart with the basketball and maybe add the 3-point shot into his arsenal, he could be the key to Indiana making the leap next season.

Joey Brunk – Michigan State

Brunk started immediately after his transfer from Butler, where he was a bench player. It took him a little while to get into the flow of the offense and the flow of being an every-day starter.

He went 7-of-11 against Princeton, scoring 16 points. He then had four straight games with 10 or more rebounds from Dec. 21 to Jan. 8. Then, against Michigan State, Brunk showed Hoosier nation what he’s all about.

Against Xavier Tillman, Brunk scored 14 points on 7-of-12 shooting. He added 6 rebounds, including a huge offensive rebound and putback in the final minutes. His effort and determination showed Indiana fans he’s a born-and-raised Hoosier.

“He’s improved as much as any player I’ve ever been around from month to month,” Miller said after the Michigan State game. “He has absolutely brought us production that, you know, it just means the world to have that type of size, that ability level.”

Joey Brunk celebrates during Indiana’s win over Notre Dame on Dec. 21. (Bailey Wright/HN)

The Big Ten has so many skilled big men, including his teammate, Jackson-Davis. Brunk will continue to have his work cut out for him as a senior in the Big Ten.

De’Ron Davis – Michigan

Davis scored six points four times throughout the season, but his minutes were limited for the most part. Then, he exploded at Michigan.

In 19 minutes, he went a perfect 9-of-9 from the floor and scored 18 points in a losing effort. It didn’t help the team at all, ending in a 25-point loss in Ann Arbor, but it was a confidence boost for someone who was struggling to crack the lineup as a senior.

For Davis, the most important part of the 2019-20 season was his health. His injury issues have been well-documented, with the Achilles injury that almost cost him two seasons. But, for one full season, Davis stayed healthy.

“I started the season healthy, and I’m going to finish the season healthy,” Davis said in February.

Davis didn’t get what he and Green deserved, an NCAA Tournament berth, but his dedication to the program and the Indiana athletic department was clear and Hoosier fans should appreciate the work he did in Bloomington during his four seasons.

Devonte Green – Florida State

I would be crazy if I picked any game other than the Florida State game. He scored 27 points and hit seven threes against Iowa and had 19 crucial points in the upset win over Ohio State, but his performance against the Seminoles set the tone for the 2019-20 season.

Green started the season dealing with a nagging injury, but he scored 16 points in back-to-back games against Princeton and Louisiana Tech. Then he tallied a season-high 30 points against the Seminoles, including five 3-pointers and became the favorite player of many Hoosier fans for the rest of the season.

He finished 10-of-15 from the floor and led the Hoosiers to a huge non-conference win.

“There wasn’t a whole lot of coaching that went into anything he did, as usual,” Miller said after the Florida State win. “When he’s good, he’s good on his own.”

He was good, and bad, on his own many times throughout the season. But just like Davis, he earned a chance to play in the Tournament, and it was taken away. He and Davis were inconsistent, but they gave a lot to the program over the past four years.

Austin Render

I am a sophomore from Fort Wayne, Indiana majoring in Sports Media. Last year I worked with IUSTV Sports doing recap and feature packages for IU field hockey, women's basketball and baseball. I am one of the current WIUX Co-Sports Directors. I am a student broadcaster for WIUX as well as Big Ten Network Student U. You can reach me at austinrender99@gmail.com and you can follow me on Twitter @austinrender.

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