James Blackmon Jr. finished with 26 points and seven boards and Yogi Ferrell added 13 points, seven assists and no turnovers as Indiana knocked off No. 22 SMU at Assembly Hall on Thursday night, 74-68.
Indiana shot just 36.2% from the floor, but those kind of percentages are going to be fairly typical for this team this season. The Hoosiers have a front court that consists of Hanner Mosquera-Perea and, well, not much else, and with the amount of perimeter talent that Tom Crean has at his disposal, he’s made the decision to embrace.
Indiana shot 12-for-33 from three on Thursday after entering the game a cool 21-for-38 from beyond the arc on the season. It was a flurry of longballs that helped the Hoosiers erase a 20-8 deficit early in the first half, and it was hot shooting from long range in the final minutes that allowed them to hang on for a victory.
This is what it’s going to be like all season long for Indiana. They’re going to get up and down the floor, spread things out and allow Ferrell Blackmon and Robert Johnson to try to make plays. It’s worked well so far, and while I’m not convinced yet that it will be enough to get the Hoosiers back to the NCAA tournament, I firmly believe that it’s going to be a lot of fun to watch along the way.
What I can say, however, is that this was an important win for the Hoosiers to get. SMU has struggled in these last two games — they got smoked by Gonzaga on Monday night — but both of them were road tests early in a season where the Mustangs are playing without their best interior player. This is a team coached by Larry Brown. They’re going to figure things out eventually, and when they do, this win is going to look pretty good.
It’s also worth noting that this is the first game that Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson played after being suspended for testing positive for weed during the summer. Williams was a difference-maker, finishing with 11 points and four boards and bringing a level of athleticism and energy that cannot be replicated by anyone else on the roster. Robinson had just two points, but he did hand out three assists without turning the ball over.
I’ve said all along that the only way Tom Crean’s job is in jeopardy is if he continues to lose.
It’s still early, but the returns are positive for the Hoosiers. On the nights their threes are going down, this is a team that can beat anyone in the country in their gym.