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Indiana overcomes sloppy second half to knock off Louisiana Tech

With Louisiana Tech fighting back, Indiana used the free throw line to settle down the pace and pull out an 88-75 win over the Bulldogs Monday night. The Hoosiers shot 74 percent from the free throw line, a welcomed sign for a team that shot just 65 percent from the charity stripe last season, good for 329th in the country.

Freshman Trayce-Jackson Davis led Indiana with 21 points in its win over Louisiana Tech, the 88th ranked team in KenPom. In a game where point guard Rob Phinisee was sidelined with an abdominal injury, Devonte Green stepped up in his absence, scoring 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting.

In the last two games, Joey Brunk combined for 28 points. He tallied 12 points in the win over Louisiana Tech. (Ross Abdellah/HN)

Indiana’s lead was as high as 23 points in the first half, but Louisiana Tech showed in the second half it would not go away easily. With 11 minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs cut Indiana’s lead to 11 points, but also committed a costly foul to put Indiana in the double bonus.

“This is one, regardless of how you feel you played, we won the game and a few months from now this will be one that's more valuable than hopefully most people realize,” head coach Archie Miller said.

This win moves Indiana to 6-0 on the season, the best start since the 2012-2013 season. Here are three takeaways from Indiana’s best win of the season to this point.

Durham sets the tone with quick start

Mo Muhammed opened the scoring for Louisiana Tech with a layup on the first possession, but after that, it was off to the races for Durham. Each of the next six points were scored by Durham on coast-to-coast, fast-break layups. Durham ended his personal 7-0 run with a free throw to convert an old-fashioned three-point play. 

“Our guards did a really good job early in the game of attacking in transition,” Miller said. “I thought they made the game pretty easy early. And we were able to build a comfortable lead.”

In a game with no student section due to Thanksgiving break, it was important for Durham to create his own energy on the fast break. This run by Durham excited the crowd inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and established Indiana offensively. Durham scored 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, contributed four rebounds and four assists and led the team with a plus-17 rating. 

The Hoosiers were able to generate 20 points off 20 Louisiana Tech turnovers and scored nine points on fast breaks. Scoring 88 points, Indiana kept pace with its 90.6 points per game, which is good for fourth in the nation. 

Turnovers allow Louisiana Tech back in the game

Indiana was enjoying a 23-point lead with 7:29 left in the first half, but turnovers started to become a problem in the second half. The Hoosiers committed 18 turnovers, allowing Louisiana Tech more scoring opportunities to get back in the game.

“Second half, embarrassing really how we took care of the ball,” Miller said. “And I think it started very quickly in our first possession. When you turn the ball over coming out of halftime, you're not able to get a shot, messes you up. And just the types of turnovers we had really weren't very good.”

While Louisiana Tech never cut Indiana’s lead to below 10 points, the Bulldogs were seemingly one big shot away from threatening Indiana’s lead for the majority of the second half. Louisiana Tech scored 16 points off Indiana turnovers and were led by Amorie Archibald with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting. 

After a 52-point first half in which Indiana shot 61 percent from the floor, the Hoosiers scored 36 points and shot 32 percent in the second half, not to mention the 12 second-half turnovers.

“We weren't able to really get a hold of it,” Miller said. “We weren't able to really play the game the right way in terms of how we moved it, shared it, free-flowing. It just became a dribble-fest, a turnover-fest and there weren't a whole lot of people in my opinion in sync. It was really hard to play the second half based on that.”

Limiting turnovers will be a big focus for Archie Miller’s squad moving forward as it prepares for a December schedule that presents immediate challenges versus Florida State, Wisconsin and UConn in the first 10 days of the month.

Trayce Jackson-Davis racked up his third double-double of the season against Louisiana Tech (Bailey Wright/HN)

Brunk, Jackson-Davis prove to be huge additions 

Heading into the season, one of the major question marks was based around replacing Juwan Morgan in the post. While almost no player could immediately step in and replace Morgan’s production, Joey Brunk and Trayce Jackson-Davis have proven to be a tough duo to stop down low.

Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds, but really made his worth at the free throw line where he shot 11-of-13. Brunk contributed 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. The duo combined for six of the team’s nine offensive rebounds.

“Conceptually you've got to work inside/out obviously,” Miller said. “But you're trying to be as aggressive as you possibly can to get to the foul line because I think that's where our strength is in offensive rebounding.”

Before the season, senior De’Ron Davis was expected to play a bigger role for the Hoosiers, but the emergence of Brunk has made it hard for Davis to see the floor. Only playing four minutes tonight, Davis did not score or have any rebounds. The addition of Jackson-Davis, 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball, and Brunk, a grad-transfer from Butler, have proven to be essential to the success of this team as Davis’s role continues to diminish. 

Going forward, Indiana will host South Dakota State on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. This game can be seen on BTN+.

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