Hoosiers rout Leathernecks 98-65 in opening night hit
By MICHAEL MAROT
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) Indiana guard Al Durham delivered the perfect opening night performance. Justin Smith played the virtually flawless co-star.
Together, they shined.
Smith matched his career high with 24 points, Durham added 21 without missing a shot and they helped the Hoosiers pull away from Western Illinois 98-65.
"Oh, we were 7 for 7 today," Durham said when he finally took a peek at his stat line. "My team trusted me to knock down shots today and that's what I did."
But that was only part of the plot line for Durham.
On a night the short-handed Hoosiers won their 99th season opener, the junior guard finished with a 100% shooting night - 7 of 7 from the field, 3 of 3 on 3-pointers, 4 of 4 from the free-throw line. Plus, he had four rebounds and three assists, fell one point short of his career best and the only blemish was one turnover.
Smith was nearly as proficient. He went 11 of 17 from the field, grabbed seven rebounds, had three steals and two blocks.
And the overwhelmed Leathernecks simply had no answers for the Hoosiers' dynamic duo.
"Those are top players," Kobe Webster said after scoring 18 points for Western Illinois. "They're long, real athletic, they obviously, I think keyed in on me. They were able to get some runouts. I think they're length and athleticism kind of bothered us."
Zion Young added 12 points, but the Leathernecks had no chance after Indiana broke open the game by scoring 18 straight points midway through the first half.
The run began with a short jump hook from freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis. Durham followed with a layup to give the Hoosiers a 16-15 lead and when the 22-3 spurt finally ended, the Hoosiers led 34-18.
Western Illinois never recovered.
Webster banked in a buzzer-beating heave from just beyond midcourt to close out the half, but Indiana started the second half on a 9-2 run and extended the lead to as much as 37.
"Al's an important part to what we do. He's an older player, he's played a lot of minutes and he's a leader on our team," Indiana coach Archie Miller said. "He ran our team, played with great tempo, was smart and tonight was able to make some shots."
Western Illinois: Summit League coaches picked the Leathernecks to finish fifth in the conference in their preseason poll. That's progress after finishing eighth last season. But Tuesday's game demonstrates just how much ground Western Illinois must make up to compete against stronger, deeper, more talented teams.
Indiana: The Hoosiers accomplished a lot in their opener. They dominated the game offensively and defensively, and when they got a chance to deliver the knockout blow, Durham and Smith made sure they did. Consider it a solid start.
Western Illinois: The Leathernecks shot 34.4% from the field and were 7 of 24 on 3s, 29.2%. ... Western Illinois only committed four turnovers in the second half after having eight in the first half. ... Indiana outrebounded he Leathernecks 47-28. ... C.J. Duff left in the second half after appearing to injure a tooth. He scored eight points.
Indiana: Rob Phinisee scored 14 points and had three assists off the bench. ... Graduate transfer Joey Brunk had 11 points and seven rebounds in his Hoosiers debut. ... Indiana outscored Western Illinois 58-22 scoring in the paint.
For the second consecutive season, Indiana started two freshmen on opening night.
Last year, it was Romeo Langford and Rob Phinisee. This time it was Jackson-Davis and Armaan Franklin.
Jackson-Davis finished with eight points and six rebounds in his college debut while Franklin scored five points, had eight assists and no turnovers.
Redshirt freshman Jerome Hunter also made his first appearance and scored seven points.
Starting guard Devonte Green missed the game with an injured hamstring.
Western Illinois: Opens a four-game homestand against Stetson on Saturday.
Indiana: Will chase its second straight win when Portland State comes to town Saturday for the first meeting between the schools.
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Updated November 5, 2019