BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The second half against Eastern Michigan could prove to be the blueprint for the rest of Indiana’s season — but for now, the Hoosiers are just happy to get another win against a quality opponent.
Robert Johnson scored 18 points, Josh Newkirk added 17 points and Indiana won its third straight with a 87-67 win over Eastern Michigan on Friday.
After a first half where the Eagles gave the Hoosiers everything they had and then some, the squad Indiana hopes to be over the next four months began to take shape.
Indiana relied on its depth for a dominating second-half performance.
“I thought for the first time all season, we just dove into the bench regardless of what we were thinking prior to going in and it was a good step in the right direction for our team,” Indiana coach Archie Miller said. “That’s what we did in the second half tonight was to get guys in there you trusted were just going to play as hard as they could and do what you ask them to do.”
Indiana used a 19-3 run, highlighted by Justin Smith’s fast-break dunk, over a six-minute stretch in the second half to put Eastern Michigan away.
Freddie McSwain Jr. added 10 points and nine rebounds for Indiana (4-2), while De’Ron Davis scored 11 points.
“Everybody is getting comfortable with the offensive style, the defensive schemes,” Newkirk said. “We’ve just been practicing a lot. I think everybody is feeling more comfortable understanding that we’re all helping each other. I think it’s coming along.”
Elijah Minnie had 20 points and seven rebounds for Eastern Michigan (4-1).
Despite a four-minute scoreless drought, EMU had a brief four-point lead in the first half and was within five points, 42-37, of Indiana at the half.
“The start of the second half we were a little lethargic on offense which results in easy buckets for Indiana,” Eastern Michigan coach Rob Murphy said. “Once they got up nine (points), they started to play a little more comfortable.”
Eastern Michigan: The Eagles’ next five opponents have a combined record of 10-13. Eastern Michigan won’t play another Power 5 team until it travels to Syracuse on Dec. 27th.
Indiana: After losing its season opener to Indiana State and a tough road loss at then-No. 23 Seton Hall, Indiana needed to string some wins together in order to create momentum before hosting top-ranked Duke on Nov. 29th.
BACK IN ACTION
Indiana’s Collin Hartman took the floor for the first time this season. Hartman, a fifth-year senior who is an Indianapolis native and fan-favorite among his fellow students, suffered a knee injury in September 2016 that required surgery. Just prior to this season, Hartman suffered a minor injury that sidelined him in each of Indiana’s opening five contests. Hartman played just six minutes against EMU and scored three points.
HOT AND COLD
Minnie scored 17 points in the first half, with four of his five baskets coming from beyond the 3-point line. He had just three points the second half.
Indiana will try to upset No. 1 Duke on Wednesday in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
Eastern Michigan will visit South Florida on Monday.