Big Second Half Pushes IU Past South Florida
Photo Credit: Michael Hickey/Getty Images
The two veterans are happy to fill that role.
Johnson got the offense jump-started by scoring 21 points and Morgan did the dirty work on defense to help the Hoosiers overcome a rugged start Sunday and pull away from South Florida 70-53.
"I thought today, clearly for the longest period of time, we showed some toughness. We played hard," coach Archie Miller said. "We're getting there. They're starting to understand it will be this way."
It's a strikingly different tone from the same man who called his team "soft" following a season-opening loss eight days earlier.
Since then, though, Johnson, a senior, and Morgan, a junior, have started to speak up and show their less experienced teammates what Miller means. The result: Indiana (2-2) has won two of its last three, and its second-half performance Sunday went almost perfectly according to the script.
The Hoosiers committed three turnovers in the final 20 minutes after giving it away nine in the first 20.
The defense limited South Florida to 19 points on 6 of 25 shooting after trailing 34-33 at the half.
Meanwhile Johnson and Morgan helped get the offense get in sync. Johnson used some nifty moves to lead the way, and Morgan scored 13 of his 15 points in the second half and finished with 10 rebounds, seven on the offensive end.
"When you're the guy you count on the most, you expect him to make plays and you expect him to be aggressive. Whether he's missing or not, we need Rob to be that guy," Miller said. "I thought Juwan Morgan basically jump-started the team in the second half. He played extremely hard."
The difference was dramatic.
After Morgan's free throws with 13:10 left tied the score at 43 and his subsequent layup gave Indiana the lead 12:18 to go, the Hoosiers never trailed again. Instead, they went on a 9-1 run to take a 54-44 lead and closed it out with a 9-4 run that extended the margin to 14.
South Florida (2-2) was led by Peyton Banks, who had 15 of his 18 points in the first half and Malik Martin with 11.
"I think we ran out of gas a little bit, they're a little deeper than we are," coach Brian Gregory said. "Their two veterans in Morgan and Johnson were outstanding tonight and they're going to need that. You take a look around and that's what great programs have."