BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) – Justin Smith had a double-double and Al Durham scored 16 points to help Indiana beat Howard 86-77 on Sunday night to kick off the four-game Hoosier Tipoff Classic.
Smith finished with 16 points and 12 rebounds. He and Durham, both freshmen, started the second half after combining for 19 points and seven rebounds in the opening 20 minutes.
“Al has a high-level basketball IQ for a freshman. Some of the plays he makes look easy. He’ll only get better.”
Indiana worked over Howard’s defense with passing and ball movement, something that didn’t happen in Friday’s season-opening loss to Indiana State.
“There were a lot of unselfish plays,” Miller said. “The game resembled what we want to be about.”
The Hoosiers got the ball inside to DeRon Davis early, without reward. He missed his first five free-throw attempts before making his next two – to the roar of the crowd. His replacement, Freddie McSwain, missed his first two foul shots. Indiana (1-1) made just 12 of 29 from the free-throw line.
Then IU’s youth delivered. Smith, Durham and sophomore Devonte Green combined for 19 of IU’s first 21 points. The Hoosiers ended the first half on a 12-4 run for a 37-27 lead.
Juwan Morgan left the game after five minutes with a sprained ankle and never returned. Miller said he might be out for a while.
Davis finished with a team-high 17 points despite going just 3-for-10 from the line. He added six rebounds. Rob Johnson had 11 of his 14 points and three of his four assists in the second half.
“This was a good win for us,” Miller said. “Anytime you have what happened to us on Friday night, it’s tough to take. You question your confidence. You question your togetherness. You start to question some things. It was important for us to move on.”
Indiana built leads as large as 18 points in the second half, but could never pull away.
“With the way we shoot the three, I thought we could make it a game,” Howard coach Kevin Nickelberry said.
“Our guys hung in there. We live and die with our shots. I knew Archie would have them ready. They did a great job of defending us and taking away what we wanted to do.
“We’re young. For 35 minutes, we had four freshmen on the floor.”
Freshman guard RJ Cole led the Bison (0-2) with 27 points and eight assists with just one turnover in 39 minutes.
“He’s talented,” Nickelberry said. “I’ve been coaching 29 years. I coached in the NBA. He’s one of the best freshman point guards I’ve ever coached. He’s a conductor. He makes sweet music.”
Indiana: The Hoosiers are still learning to play the Miller way. The ball movement was better (25 assists) and the turnovers were way down – from 19 against Indiana State to 12 on Sunday.
Howard: Shaky defense and inconsistent offense hurt the Bison in their season-opening loss at George Washington. They continue to settle for three-point shots – hoisting 34 3s against IU after taking 26 against George Washington.
Indiana’s hectic opening schedule continues with a trip to No. 23 Seton Hall as part of the Gavitt Tipoff Games on Wednesday.
Howard won’t get much time to rest. It travels to No. 18 Gonzaga on Tuesday. It will be the third of seven straight road games to open the season.
Indiana needed to show it could bounce back after the Indiana State loss, and did. It handled Howard’s zone, which showed attention to detail given it hadn’t worked on its zone offense much in practice. Indiana State only played man defense.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Indiana’s defense, which had been burned for 90 points against Indiana State, held Howard to 36 percent shooting. However, it gave up 13 three-pointers. That’s 30 in two games. “We have to work hard to look at how to eliminate the three-point shot better,” Miller said. “If it stays at that rate, it’s not a good thing.”