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  • Indiana's Romeo Langford (0) goes to the basket against Central Arkansas's Matthew Mondesir (20) during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game, Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018, in Bloomington, Ind. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

Wednesday, December 19, 2018 9:00 pm

Indiana defeats Central Arkansas, 86-53, wins fifth straight

DYLAN SINN | The Journal Gazette

BLOOMINGTON –

How it Happened

The game did not start well for Indiana. The Hoosiers (10-2) fell behind 5-0 within the game's first minute and Archie Miller subbed out Aljami Durham in favor of Devonte Green just 1:04 into the game. That substitution turned out to be the key moment of the first half because Green was superb. The junior guard had easily his best stretch of the season to this point, knocking down four 3-pointers, including one at the buzzer at the end of the half, and grabbing six rebounds, setting a season-high well before halftime.

The Hoosiers needed Green because point guard Robert Phinisee exited the game less than seven minutes into the first half and did not return. He went to the locker room with an apparent injury, but later returned to the bench. He was having a good game, knocking down a 3 and dishing off two assists before the injury.

The Hoosiers' offense got going with Green in the game, but the defense lagged behind until near the under-12 timeout. With 14 minutes left in the half, Indiana trailed 19-14. Then, the defense found its footing and Central Arkansas became almost helpless offensively. The Bears didn't score for more than nine minutes, missing 13 consecutive shots and turning the ball over four times. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers ran off 19 straight points to take a 14-point. When Green buried his 3 at the end of the first half, the Hoosiers went into the locker room with a commanding 43-27 lead.

The early minutes of the second half were similar to the first, with Central Arkansas shooting well and Indiana struggling to pull away. The Bears cut the lead to as few as 12 a couple of times and although the Hoosiers weren't ever really in danger, it forced the starters to expend more energy than they probably should have against a lesser team. To make matters worse, big man De'Ron Davis appeared to suffer a finger injury while scoring a basket early in the half and exited the game, adding to the Hoosiers' injury woes.

After Davis' injury, however, the Hoosiers rallied. Indiana embarked on a massive 22-0 run, including two more 3-pointers by Green, to push the lead to past 20 and then past 30. Once again, the defense was superb, forcing five turnovers in a 4:15 span and holding the Bears without a point for more than seven minutes. Romeo Langford drove baseline with 12 minutes remaining in the game and scored on a nifty reverse layup to put the Hoosiers up 64-40 at the under-12 timeout. Out of the timeout, Evan Fitzner buried a corner 3 to make it a 27-point lead, essentially sealing the win.

Davis later returned from his finger injury and played a total of 10 minutes in the game.

Player of the Game: Devonte Green

Green put together by far his best game of the season, performing like the playmaker he was for most of the 2017-18 season. He scored a season-high 19 points on 6-of-11 shooting and drilled a career-high six 3-pointers. He had not made more than two 3s in any other game this season. He also had season-highs in rebounds (nine), assists (six) and steals (four). With Phinisee out, Green ensured the Hoosiers didn't miss a beat.

Facts and Figures

Indiana is 8-0 at Assembly Hall this season. ... Central Arkansas is 0-7 all-time against the Big Ten. ... After scoring a career-high 35 points against Butler, Morgan scored 10 against the Bears, moving into the Top 50 in all-time scoring at Indiana, tying Butch Joyner for 50th place. ... Langford came in sixth in the Big Ten in scoring at 17.7 points and scored 18 on 7-of-14 shooting. He also had 10 rebounds, his second career double-double. ... The Hoosiers entered the matchup No. 5 nationally in shooting percentage at 51.5 percent and hit 56 percent from the field, the ninth time this season they've hit better than 50 percent from the field. ... Saturday's hero, Phinisee, went 1 for 1 from beyond the arc and has seven 3-pointers in his last three games, but played just seven minutes because of the injury he suffered in the first half. ... The Bears shot just 30 percent from the field despite a hot start. ... Indiana had 24 assists on 36 made baskets. ... Justin Smith scored 10 points on 5 of 5 shooting from the field. It was his first double-digit scoring performance since Nov. 23 against UC-Davis.

What's Next?

The Hoosiers wrap up non-conference play Saturday when they take on the Jacksonville Dolphins (7-5) at Assembly Hall. The game will tip off at 6 p.m. and will be broadcast on the Big Ten Network. The Dolphins, members of the Atlantic Sun Conference, haven't played a Power Five opponent yet this season, but will take on Notre Dame at Purcell Pavilion on Thursday.

dsinn@jg.net