Freshman guard Devonte Green’s half-court heave to beat the buzzer at halftime put a bow on the lights-out shooting performance from the IU men’s basketball team Thursday night.
Green’s bank shot was the 11th made 3-pointer of the first half for the Hoosiers as they manipulated the Austin Peay two-three zone defense to shoot 61 percent from distance in the first half.
The Hoosiers carried the shooting momentum throughout the rest of the game as they knocked down 15-of-26 from beyond the arc to extend their home winning streak to 26 games against Austin Peay, 97-62.
“We shot the ball extremely well obviously and I think it was just very indicative of how the ball was moving,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “We played a lot of different guys, but when the ball is moving like that, good things are going to happen and that’s exactly how it worked for us.”
Junior guard Robert Johnson set the tone from distance early against the Governors as the visitors forced the Hoosiers to shoot from deep after setting up in a zone defense to start. Johnson buried three of his first four 3-pointers on the night and had the first nine points for the Hoosiers at the first media timeout.
Johnson led the way with five triples in the first half and finished with 20 points on the night with a career high six 3-pointers. It was his largest scoring output in a single game this season and he finished one point shy of his career high.
The Richmond, Virginia, native was extremely efficient from the field against Butler, shooting 80 percent, but only took five shots in the loss. Over the past two wins for the Hoosiers, the junior guard has shot the ball 28 times and hit eight 3-pointers in the process.
“I think there are times where I could have been a little bit more aggressive in past games,” Johnson said. “But at the same time I think guys have done a good job moving the ball and just finding me when I’m open.”
Junior guard James Blackmon Jr. finished the game as IU’s leading scorer for the sixth time this year as he paced the way with 24 points. Blackmon had just eight points in the first half and then took over to start the second half, adding nine points to his stat line in the first four minutes.
Blackmon missed just one of his seven shots in the second half and finished the night four-of-five from 3-point land. He’s now made four 3-pointers in each of the last four games and said it’s a lot easier to get into the rhythm when they work the ball down low first and then kick it out for an open look.
“Once you see one or two go down, the rim gets a little bigger,” Blackmon said. “But I never want to switch my mentality to just start shooting three’s or jacking them up and things like that, so we always want to go inside and out first.”
Thursday night, the Governors were no match for the Hoosiers around the perimeter as the Hoosiers were just four 3-pointers shy of the IU single-game record as a team, 19. Everything was falling for IU as effective ball movement inside to sophomore forward Thomas Bryant and freshman forward De’Ron Davis led to open shots on the outside.
“We want to get it inside to guys like Thomas and De’Ron because they’re so good at passing the ball as well,” Blackmon said. “When we go inside and out and keep the floor spaced and just keep ball movement and reversing the ball it got easy for us.”