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Dominant Second Half Lifts Hoosiers Over Youngstown

It was another one too close for comfort in Bloomington last night before the Hoosiers surged after halftime.

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Holiday rust hung heavy on the Hoosiers.

Turnovers mounted.

Shots were missed.

A Friday night spark was needed against struggling Youngstown State.

A spark was delivered … in measured doses.

De'Ron Davis made free throws … to a point. Juwan Morganconverted the basics … as he always does. Devonte Green had a first-half-ending steal and basket ... to make up for free-throw shooting inconsistency. Zach McRoberts showcased more all-around impact than any Hoosier not named Morgan … without lots of points.

In the end, Indiana (8-6) dominated Youngstown State 79-51 in a non-conference finale that ensured coach Archie Miller would have plenty of talking points entering next week's Big Ten road swing at Wisconsin and at Minnesota.

"First, we're not rebounding the ball at all," Miller said. "Not even in the Tennessee Tech game. That won't cut it moving forward. We won't be able to survive. We've got to be consumed with rebounding.

"Second, we've got to be a better offensive team. We're not shooting the ball anywhere near what we're capable of. We have four to five guys who are like, I hope I make one, then if the first one doesn't go in, they struggle.

"We're worrying about the wrong things. You need to worry about the right things, like winning the game, playing the right way, doing my job."

One pattern to address -- IU's tendency of first-half turnover flurries before settling into second-half efficiency.

Against Youngstown State (2-11), Indiana had 15 assists against five turnovers in the second half, to finish with 20 and 15.

"In the second half, we try to hit singles," Morgan said. "At the start, we get careless with the ball. Sometimes I think people are moving too fast. We have to slow down, get it inside, look to get the good shot.

"That falls on the responsibility of the older guys. We have to preach that to the younger guys so we can get the turnovers down."

Miller said in the first half, IU's offensive end is away from the Hoosier bench, so it's harder to direct things. In the second half, played in from of Indiana coaches, direction comes easier.

"I think a lot of times in the first half, with it going away from us, we're not as smart, we're not as detailed, we're not as good," Miller said. "Our decision making in passing wasn't good.

"The second half, we have more control with those guys. We're able to be a bit more efficient.

"Only having five turnovers in the second half was much better, but 15 turnovers was way too many."

Another pattern -- McRoberts' knack for making the most of his minutes. On Friday night, he had eight rebounds, seven points, two assists and two steals in 27 minutes.

One reason – he makes guys uncomfortable.

"It's just causing chaos out there," McRoberts said. "Just anything I can do – get steals, rebounds, whatever. Helping the team make plays."

Morgan made enough plays to total 16 points, six rebounds and three steals. Guard Robert Johnson had 13 points (despite 1-for-6 three-point shooting), six rebounds and four assists. Guard Josh Newkirk had 10 points, five assists and one turnover.

Still, Miller wants more.

"We have some guys who have deteriorated in the last month," he said. "I think it's just confidence."

IU spent a pre-game moment honoring legendary TV announcer Dick Enberg, an IU grad who recently passed away, and then began the way you'd expect a team to play after an eight-day holiday break.

Not even a Youngstown State team that came in with an eight-game losing streak could change that.

The Hoosiers missed their first five shots and didn't score until the 16:31 mark on a Johnson floater.

Eventually, IU pushed ahead 22-12 on Morgan's three-point play with 6:16 left in the first half, then gave away six of those points before ending the half with a mini-rush for a 29-20 lead.

Three minutes into the second half, the Hoosier lead was 14. Two minutes after that, they led 44-24 and were cruising to the blowout victory everyone had expected.

That left Indiana to start focus on winning at Wisconsin. The Hoosiers haven't won there since 1998, a 15-game winless span that could end given the Badgers' Kohl Center vulnerability this season (three home losses already this season).

You won't hear that from Miller.

"This is the hardest league in the country to win on the road," he said. "Home venues are packed.

"Wisconsin is the only thing you can really concentrate on. We know how hard it is to play there. That's our focus -- we have to find a way to be ready to compete and plays as hard as we possibly can against them in that building, which we know will be very difficult."

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