Archie Miller and Indiana comfortably earned another win in their second home at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Saturday afternoon against Butler in the Crossroads Classic.
The Hoosiers rode the momentum of Armaan Franklin’s consistency and woke up after a dismal first half to upend the Bulldogs, 68-60, and close out nonconference play with a 5-2 record.
Miller is now 4-0 in the Crossroads Classic and 5-0 at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in his tenure at Indiana. The Hoosiers are also 7-3 in the event’s history, the best record of the four competing teams.
Indiana showcased a lot of maturity and growth going from the first half to the second as it flipped the script and took total control of the game. Second-half adjustments in post play on offense and locking down defensively, in addition to Franklin’s career-high 20 points, created dominance on both ends of the floor.
“To start the game, we weren’t ready for the physicality,” Miller said. “They were a much tougher team than us in the first half. I thought in the second half we came out with a much better approach. Our attitude was much different.”
Indiana’s biggest strengths, the packline defense and post offense from Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson, weren’t there in the first half.
A shorthanded Butler team without leading scorer Aaron Thompson found a multitude of ways to expose Indiana’s defense early on. The Bulldogs shot 53.8% from the field and were 5-for-7 from 3-point range. They also outrebounded Indiana 17-11 and got nine points off turnovers. Butler’s quick start built a 37-32 halftime lead, but the momentum made it seem much larger.
Tighter defense changed the game in the second half, though. Indiana only allowed Butler to score six points in the first 10 minutes of the second half, as well as only 23 points for the entirety of the last period.
“We were able to do a much better job of being tougher inside,” Miller said. “They didn’t shoot any uncontested layups in the second half.”
Jackson-Davis ensured Butler had no easy looks with his presence at the rim and his career-high five blocks. The improved second-half defense was a result of Jackson-Davis and Thompson’s effort, which energized the duo on the offensive end of the floor, as well.
Jackson-Davis was steady all game and finished with 21 points and eight rebounds, but Thompson coming alive in the second half made a big difference to the team’s success.
In the first half, Thompson struggled with zero points on 0-for-3 shooting with two turnovers, too. In the second, Thompson scored 10 points and gave Indiana another scoring threat and diversified the offense.
“It really opens up the game,” Jackson-Davis said of Thompson’s success. “Even with Race just shooting those shots so they can’t sag off of him really helps.”
Combining the two post players’ solid performances with the continued growth and consistency of Franklin is what gave Indiana the extra edge to finish soundly.
Franklin, an Indianapolis native, has always found success playing in Bankers Life Fieldhouse throughout his Indiana career and that was no different today.
Last year, he hit the game-winning shot against Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic and had 17 points against Nebraska in the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis, as well.
On Saturday, he had a career-high 20 points and was excellent from 3-point range yet again, making five of his seven 3-pointers for the second consecutive game. Thirteen of the 20 points came in the first half and kept IU in the game early on.
“Our guards did a good job, those guys did some really good things to help Armaan get going,” Miller said. “But make no mistake, those were big shots that Armaan made and his confidence level is at a really good place.”