BLOOMINGTON – Indiana University has been playing basketball for a long time. To accomplish a feat that has only been done once before in program history, as Juwan Morgan did with his triple-double in the Hoosiers' 94-64 win over Jacksonville on Saturday, is special.
What really made Morgan's performance, in which he had 10 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists, extraordinary, was that it was completely in the flow of the game. Nothing was forced. There was no special feeding the ball to him so he could reach the milestone, except on his very last basket that clinched the triple-double. Morgan had a triple-double because the game dictated he should. He earned every second of the standing ovation that the crowd gave him when he exited with six minutes to play.
"I think he is obviously a load," Jacksonville coach Tony Jasick, a former IPFW coach, said of Morgan. "They do a really good job of getting him the ball in spots where he doesn’t need much time to score the ball. When the double team can’t quite get there, he's already got the ball on the rim. He is a talent. It will be interesting to watch him and Romeo Langford go through Big Ten play."
Morgan's big game turned what could have been a ho-hum victory over an overmatched Dolphins team into a game to remember. But it wasn't only Morgan that played well in this one. It was a team effort and Aljami Durham quietly put together one of the best games of his career to this point, pouring in 18 points on 6-of-8 shooting. When Indiana gets a third scorer going behind Morgan and Langford, its offense becomes dangerous. On Wednesday, that scorer was Devonte Green and tonight Durham stepped into the role. He has a pure stroke and a nice touch around the rim and it wouldn't surprise me if he had more games like this going forward, especially with Robert Phinisee out.
"Al really loves the game," Miller said. "He works on it. He's the guy that's in before practice, after practice, shoot around. He spends a ton of time. Good to see him get rewarded. He had a slow stretch for a while where he wasn't hitting. Played right through it.
"Had a terrific workout yesterday before practice. One of his better practices. He showed. He played nice tonight. He didn't force anything. He was able to, in my opinion, take good shots."
The Hoosiers got contributions up and down the lineup today, with all five starters finishing in double figures. Langford had a quiet 15 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while Devonte Green finished with 13 points and five assists despite a tough shooting night. Overall, the Hoosiers shot 65 percent from the field, the best in Archie Miller's tenure here, and dished off 21 assists on 35 made baskets.
Despite a shaky first few minutes once again, this was a crisper, more decisive Indiana team than we've seen recently. Of course, Jacksonville is not Duke, but it was encouraging to see Indiana share the ball this way for a second straight game.
"We just spent a lot of time watching film of Central Arkansas's first four to eight minutes," Miller said. "We talked about in practice being sharper with your catches, more fundamental with things. We still had some one-arm zingers that come flying, whether that's out of the post. We gotta try to tone that down.
"I just think we have to be more fundamental, we really do. Less chances, less one-hand passes, whatnot. I thought tonight we were pretty secure in our ball security. Guys made right reads. There were a lot of good passes out there that got guys good shots.
So the Hoosiers finish their non-conference schedule 9-2 and are 11-2 overall heading into the Christmas break. Even the most optimistic Hoosiers fan probably would've taken that before the season began. There is still plenty to clean up, of course, but the 12-day layoff should give Indiana a chance to get healthy and get ready before the conference season begins. The Big Ten gauntlet awaits. Merry Christmas!