Indiana came into Thursday night’s game against #22 Southern Methodist with the mindset to shoot. And shoot. And shoot. And shoot some more.
The Hoosiers made 12 3-pointers on 33 attempts, which proved to be the difference in the 74-68 win at Assembly Hall.
IU moved to 3-0 in the young season. But this win was different. The younger and smaller Hoosiers kept fighting back and made the shots when they needed to secure their biggest home non-conference win since beating North Carolina in the 2012 Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
The difference between that Indiana team and this one? That year Indiana was #1 and was expected to roll through the out of conference. This year’s team has more to prove and only play 5 teams before Big Ten season that figure to be a challenge.
James Blackmon Jr. has been, as good if not, better than advertised. His 26 points led the way, including four free-throws in the last 10 seconds to seal the deal. Through three games, he is shooting 61% from 3-point land.
Yogi Ferrell was solid with 13 points. The biggest stat for him though, was the 7 assists against no turnovers. Nick Zeisloft proved to be clutch with 3 triples of his own.
For the Mustangs led by Larry Brown, this was a game that will leave them scratching their heads. The 19 turnovers proved to be costly and they could not make the most of their size advantage. After the game, Brown talked about how fun it was to play in Assembly Hall. The long-time coach is trying to make SMU into an NCAA Tournament and alluded to how IU is a program that they can look at as a model for future growth.
But this game was about Indiana. Based on how the crowd responded, all those off-the-court issues didn’t seem to matter, at least for these 40 minutes. Stan Robinson and Troy Williams received a round of applause from the fans in their season debuts. It almost felt as if everyone just wanted to cheer again and feel good about their team.
And if Indiana can shoot the way they did tonight and play to their strengths the way they did, maybe they’ll have more to cheer about this year than we initially thought.