INDIANAPOLIS – Indiana's 3-point shooting came with it to Indianapolis.
Six days after the Hoosiers finally broke out from beyond the arc against North Alabama, they continued to have success from downtown against Butler. More specifically, Armaan Franklin had success. The Indianapolis native, who scored 17 points in last year's Crossroads Classic and 19 points against North Alabama, went 4 for 5 from beyond the arc in the first half and has 13 points. Even better, he looks confident, coming off screens and looking to shoot, something Indiana has sorely lacked this season and in the recent past. The result has been a significant boost to the Indiana offense and it has kept the Hoosiers within striking distance, though they trail 37-32 at the half.
The less encouraging part of the half has been Indiana's defense. The Hoosiers have been solid most of the season on that end of the court, but facing a Butler team that is missing its leading scorer (Aaron Thompson, who is out with a sprained knee), Indiana has struggled at times to get stops. Butler has shot 54% in the first half and 5 for 7 from beyond the 3-point line. At least three of those 3-pointers by my count were the result of poor communication from the Hoosiers, where two players chasing one ball-handler, leaving trailing shooters open. Those things are going to happen with young players (Khristian Lander and Trey Galloway were at fault in one of them each), but they need to be ironed out, as soon as possible. More ominously for Indiana, the Hoosiers have just five points off turnovers, as they haven't been able to get out in transition particularly often. Trayce Jackson-Davis should have had a transition basket as he laid one in off a nice leave from Trey Galloway, Jackson-Davis was whistled for a terrible offensive foul as he went up.
Indiana's performance has been much better on offense. The Hoosiers are not only shooting the ball well, but moving it and cutting well without the ball. That's evident in the fact that IU has 10 assists on 11 made field goals, though the Hoosiers hit a dry spell late in the half and are shooting only 46% at the break. Indiana is getting a lot of production from its guards, with Franklin, Rob Phinisee and Al Durham all driving into the lane for baskets. My main gripe so far is that Jackson-Davis has not touched the ball enough in the post. The 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball has 10 points on 3-for-4 shooting and three rebounds and the Bulldogs have struggled to stop him in the post, but he hasn't received the ball often enough and he is letting the Bulldogs get away with fronting him a little bit too much.
As expected, this isn't a particularly good Butler team, but the Bulldogs have limited Jackson-Davis relatively well and have burned the Hoosiers with 3s to grab the lead. It's lucky Indiana hasn't been ice-cold from distance because this would likely be a double-digit deficit for the Hoosiers.