BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Devonte Green was back.
You know, the guy whose career-high 30 points nearly beat Florida State himself, the guy who banks in half-court three-pointers, who shoots fearlessly, plays recklessly (not always to his coach’s liking) and creates relentlessly.
Green ignites or deflates with a flair only the most confident can summon.
No. 21 Iowa got a game-busting dose of that Thursday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Green drove the Hoosiers to first-half double-figure control they never lost in an 89-77 victory to snap a four-game losing streak.
“It feels a lot better than the last few times,” coach Archie Miller said.
“Hopefully this shows us that if we’re about the right things, which is each other, good things can happen.”
They did for Green. The senior guard had 27 points, 24 more than he had five days earlier against Purdue, seven more than he totaled in his previous three games.
That Green does it by coming off the bench, that he bounces back from sub-par performances as easily as some people breathe thrills and frustrates in equal measure.
“Can we get three to four games in a row where he’s playing outstanding basketball?” Miller asked in the post-game press conference.
“Tonight he was one of the best players in the country. Sometimes it’s, Where was he?
“He’s got to stay with it. Hopefully he sees the silver lining that my team needs me. I’ve got to be ready to go every day. If he does, he’ll have more performances like this.”
Green hit his first four three-point attempts and finished 7-for-11 beyond the arc.
“I got a lot of open shots early,” he said. “We moved the ball well. Once I started hitting them, I got hot, and it went on from there.
“It’s a good feeling. You see one go in, then two, then four. It’s like, I’m going to shoot again, shoot till I miss, then shoot it again.”
His teammates are fine with that.
“You’re thinking, give him the ball,” forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said. “His shots can go in any time he touches the ball.”
Green’s early three-point shooting frenzy came in front of older brother Danny, a Los Angeles Lakers’ guard with free time due to the NBA All-Star break, plus former Hoosiers OG Anunoby (now a Toronto Raptor), Juwan Morgan and James Blackmon Jr.
Green said his brother didn’t spark his performance.
“I was going to play hard and do what I had to do regardless. It’s good to have him here. I’m glad I had a good night while he was here.”
Miller joked that he asked Danny Green after the game to take a break from the Lakers and come to more IU contests.
“He said he couldn’t,” Miller said. “Maybe we should Facetime him every day.
“Devonte is a unique guy, a smart guy. When he’s engaged, he’s really good.
“When gets down on himself, (he struggles). We don’t have time for that. He’s got to hit the afterburner and push through for us.”
Green was a big reason, but not the only one, why IU (16-8) regained the form last seen in the January upset of Michigan State to record its fourth Quad One win, huge in NCAA tourney significance.
Jackson-Davis made a strong bid for a second straight Big Ten freshman of the week honors with 17 points and 10 rebounds. It was his seventh double-double of the season.
There was guard Rob Phinisee’s 12 points and five assists, and forward Race Thompson’s career-high 10 points.
Overall, 10 Hoosiers played and nine scored.
“We had a lot of guys contribute,” Miller said.
Still, questions were everywhere before the game, the consequence of a dismal home loss to rival Purdue.
If the Hoosiers couldn’t win that game, with a rocking Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall crowd inspired by the return of former coach Bob Knight after a 20-year absence, could they beat a ranked opponent that had won seven of its last nine contests?
Could IU contain Iowa center Luka Garza, the best player in the Big Ten, and perhaps the nation?
Could the Hoosiers regain the toughness, physicality and rebounding prowess that delivered the Michigan State upset?
Mostly, though, could they return to their winning ways in time to, perhaps, salvage a NCAA tourney opportunity.
The short answer — Yes, mostly.
The longer answer — You’d better believe it.
“We knew we had to bounce back to get through the slump,” Green said. “It only takes one win. We knew it would be tough. Iowa is a good team. That gave us a sense of urgency.”
The Hoosiers regained their rebounding prowess (a 39-28 edge), lit it up from three-point range (11-for-21, a season-high in made three-pointers) and dominated bench scoring (45-16). They needed seven minutes to take control, and never lost it.
Yes, Garza was a force with 38 points and eight rebounds, but on this night, that was as consequential as a comb to a bald man.
“You can’t look at that team and say they can’t shoot threes,” Iowa coach Fran McCaffery said. “They can shoot.
“You can’t let a guy get seven threes, but once you get him going, who knows?”
Indiana again showed why, when focused and inspired, it is an imposing basketball force.
“When we are mentally right,” Miller said, “when we are together and play as a unit, we have a chance to be a good team.”
Green jumped started the Hoosiers from the moment he came in four minutes into the game. He ignited a 26-7 run that turned a four-point deficit into a 15-point lead and then a 49-35 halftime advantage.
Indiana shot ahead 60-40 five minutes into the second half.
Iowa (17-8) never got closer than 11 points.
Now comes a brutal stretch of four road games in the next five, starting Sunday at Michigan.
Only a driven team consistently in tune to doing what’s necessary has a chance.
“You lose, you take on water, it gets negative,” Miller said. “It makes you go into a shell, not want to practice or listen to the coach.
“We needed a shot in the arm to relieve some of that pressure.
“We have not been right on the road. We have to be better and tougher.”
Used by permission -Indiana Universisty Sports Information