On a cold snowy night in Bloomington mostly marked by the return of former Hoosier coach- Indiana also had a basketball game to play. It didn't take long for Hoosier Nation to be introduced to the "other" star freshman in this class - . He was the primary factor behind the 44-29 lead at halftime as he ended the half with 17 points, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds which led Indiana in all categories. He also didn't turn the ball over a single time in the first half which is as important to Indiana as any statistic right now. That great half from Johnson then led to a great half from James Blackmon Jr. who was very quiet in the first half. Blackmon scored 17 of his 19 points in the second half and carried Indiana to an 83-64 victory in what was a sluggish performance overall for Indiana. It's still early in the year and I think we learned a few more things last night against Texas Southern:
here. Was he in over his head at Indiana? No doubt about it. But he worked incredibly hard to get Indiana back to being "Indiana." No matter what you think of Davis, he led Indiana to its most successful season in the last 27 years and no one can ever take that away from him. It was great to see Hoosier Nation give him a standing ovation as he was introduced as the coach of Texas Southern and you could tell what that meant to him as he had a big smile on his face. He said afterwards - "This is the first time I have lost a game here and I'm not sad." I think both Hoosier Nation and got closure tonight and that is a good thing moving forward.got some closure - While Coach Davis didn't leave Indiana on the kind of terms Kelvin Sampson left on, he still didn't leave with a very positive image as a basketball coach. He is one of the nicest guys you will ever meet and still reflects positively on his days leading the Cream and Crimson as seen
"This is the first time I have lost a game here and I'm not sad." - Mike Davis
Robert Johnson is one of the best freshman in the conference - All the eyes have been on James Blackmon Jr. around the B1G Conference - and rightfully so. Last night though, it was Robert Johnson who took the spotlight. Johnson played a terrific first half as mentioned above and did it with great shooting going 6-7 from the field and 3-3 from deep. While he did slow down a bit in the second half, he still ended up with a great line including 21 points, 6 assists, 5 rebounds, and only 1 turnover which is even better when you consider this is his second real game played on this level of basketball. At this point, it is hard to see how he doesn't start over a guy like Stanford Robinson going forward - but time will tell on that.
Indiana can still play well when Blackmon is quiet - Blackmon ended the first half with 2 points on 1-2 shooting - yet Indiana led the game 44-29. That is not what anyone expected to see with Troy Williams, Stanford Robinson, Emmitt Holt, and Devin Davis all out of the lineup. Blackmon has been the guy throughout the exhibition season and the opener last week. Tonight, guys like Robert Johnson & Hanner Mosquera-Perea helped pick up the slack and Blackmon got back on track in the second half where he scored 17. While it may seem trivial now, that 20 minute stretch in the first half when the Hoosiers didn't get any production from Blackmon - they proved to themselves they could still be successful, and that will be very important down the road as defenses focus on shutting down Blackmon.
Rebounding remains a concern - Indiana was out rebounded last night by Texas Southern 34-32 which is a major concern going forward. While they rebounded well against a very short Mississippi Valley State team, they were also out rebounded by Division 2 Indianapolis in the last exhibition game. It will be interesting to watch the impact guys like Troy Williams and Emmitt Holt have on the rebounding ability of this team. Williams, in particular, is really going to have to step up on the boards. The Hoosiers are not going to be a good rebounding team, but they have to find a way to neutralize the disadvantage on the boards as much as possible.
Indiana will get their first true test of the season on Thursday night in The Assembly Hall whenand Southern Methodist University come to town. Indiana will also be back to full strength, less Devin Davis, as all the suspensions have now come to an end. Follow BTPowerhouse for full coverage.