BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (AP) — The Indiana Hoosiers began conference play with a victory, defeating the visiting Northwestern Wildcats 68-66 on Saturday.
The Hoosiers (6-2, 1-0) were led by Romeo Langford’s 20 points and Juwan Morgan’s 17 points and 12 rebounds. The pair of stars each shot 8 of 13 from the field. Morgan left the game with an apparent right leg injury with 3:20 remaining and the Hoosiers leading 61-58.
Northwestern (6-2, 0-1) appeared to have momentum on its side, tying the game at 63 with 2:06 remaining. The Hoosiers were going to have to survive the final minutes without Morgan, their best player so far this season.
After a timeout, head coach Archie Miller seemed to give Langford one-on-one advice. Was he telling Langford that this was his time?
“I feel like that was already stated without saying,” said Langford on if his coach told him to take over.
With the score knotted at 63 with 39 seconds left, Langford sank a floater through two Northwestern defenders to give the Hoosiers the lead for good. Langford wasn’t finished, getting a deflection that went off a Northwestern player for a turnover.
Miller had high praise for his star freshman, “He had his best all-around game tonight without question offensively and defensively.”
Northwestern coach Chris Collins had positive words for Langford as well. “He is a terrific scorer and player. He made a leaning 14-foot shot under pressure. That’s what really good players do. Credit to him for a big-time play.”
Northwestern was led by Dererk Pardon, who finished with 24 points and 10 rebounds. Vic Law added 16 points and nine rebounds.
Indiana survived a poor 3-point shooting performance (3 of 11) and struggles at the free-throw line (11 of 19) by attacking the basket, making 63 percent of their 2-point attempts. The Hoosiers scored 42 points in the paint.
The Hoosiers were able to get key defensive stops down the stretch, limiting the Wildcats to 37-percent shooting in the second half.
No team led by more than two possessions at any point, with the largest lead of the game being five points.
The back-and-forth nature of a tight game served as a reminder to Miller of what’s to come in Big Ten play.
“We go to Penn State on Tuesday and that’s going to be very, very difficult. And I just can’t imagine playing in this league in January and February. I just don’t see a team that’s not very good.”
Northwestern: The Wildcats were unable to continue their early-season momentum rolling, but their 6-2 start to the season still has them in position to make the NCAA Tournament for the second time in school history.
Indiana: The Hoosiers rebounded after a rough loss at Duke in which everything seemed to go wrong. The Hoosiers get a quality win to begin conference play but will be hoping to receive good news regarding Morgan’s injury status.
Romeo Langford’s floater to give Indiana the lead: https://twitter.com/kgholler_/status/1068956586633248768
The battle of the bigs between Morgan and Pardon was a throwback with Pardon winning statistically (24 points, 10 rebounds) and Morgan’s team leaving with a victory.
Northwestern: The Wildcats return to action on Tuesday in front of their home crowd looking to knock off No. 7 Michigan.
Indiana: The Hoosiers hit the road to continue conference play at Penn State.