BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Devonte Green smiled that you-can’t-guard-me smile, the kind you see from pool hustlers and card sharks, ruthless and merciless, and then proved it with three straight first-half three-pointers, and then a second-half, off-balance, shot-clock beating dagger.
It didn’t last, but it didn’t have to.
Indiana’s senior guard had more in his arsenal.
So did the Hoosiers (8-0), and No. 17 Florida State paid the price.
Tuesday night’s 80-64 victory at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge showcased why this is a tougher, Indiana team deserving of a national ranking, and now has the marquee performance to endorse it.
“How will we do against the big dogs?” freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis said, “You witnessed it. Play hard and do our thing.”
Green set the tone with a career-high 30 points on 10-for-15 shooting, 5-for-7 from three-point range. He added six rebounds and three assists.
“Devonte was special tonight,” coach Archie Miller said. “There was not a lot of coaching. When he’s good, he’s good on his own.”
When Green gets going like that, junior forward Justin Smith said, “I tell him to keep shooting, but take good shots.” “They’re all good shots,” Green interrupted with a smile.
“When he’s hot,” Smith added, “he doesn’t miss. Microwave.”
Or, as freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis succinctly put it, “Green light.”
IU hasn’t trailed in the second half all season, a combination of strong play and unranked competition.
Florida State (7-2) was different — ranked, rugged and fully road tested with wins over a pair of ranked teams (Florida and Tennessee) and an Emerald Coast Classic championship.
On this night and in this arena, the Hoosiers made sure that wasn’t enough, and put the lie to preseason second-division Big Ten predictions, with this added boost – ex-IU All-America Victor Oladipo, now with the Indiana Pacers, was courtside to watch it.
*”We knew Florida State had played a heck of a gauntlet of games, and we would have a great opportunity to play in that environment,” Miller said. “You want to see what you’re made of. Our guys rose to the occasion.
“It wasn’t pretty. It was not an easy game. They can overwhelm you with it never goes away. There’s no possessions off with them.”
The Hoosiers controlled the boards (35 to 25), the free throw line (23-for-38 to 7-for-16) and just about everything else.
“Our team is built to get fouled,” Miller said.
Miller rotated players at a furious pace early on This was a game that demanded full-roster contributions, and boy did the Hoosiers deliver.
Ten players saw action in the first seven minutes.
Everyone made a difference
Smith had 14 points, six rebounds and relentless leadership to cause Miller to say it was “the best game of his career regardless of numbers.” Jackson-Davis added 15 points and eight rebounds.
A ferocious first-half defensive display turned Florida State’s offense to mush. At one point the Seminoles basically went nine minutes without a field goal.
Just as impressive was IU’s 55.6 percent shooting (7-for-15 on three-pointers) against one of the nation’s best defenses. The Hoosiers scored 41 points in the first 20 minutes against a defense that allowed just 59 a game.
All this shattered the pre-game narrative.
Florida State had won seven straight by attacking the passing lanes with imposing length and athleticism. Sixteen Seminoles were 6-5 or taller, eight were 6-7 or taller.
Defensive pressure was everywhere you looked and, at times, where you didn’t. Florida State forced 18 turnovers.
But the Hoosiers had length of their own with the 6-7 Smith, 6-9 Jackson-Davis, 6-11 Joey Brunk, 6-8 Race Thompson and even 6-4 Aljami Durham. Their defense, while less frenzied, was designed to force the Seminoles off the foul line and out of rebounding position.
“Florida State is a great team,” Jackson-Davis said. “They wreaked havoc and we handled it pretty well.”
Florida State forced a turnover on IU’s first possession and bolted to an 11-4 lead. Indiana countered with a 12-0 run.
Green’s perimeter outburst propelled the Hoosiers to first-half leads as large as 15 before settling for a 41-30 halftime advantage.
The Seminoles opened the second half with three three-pointers in the first two minutes. The 11-point lead was cut to six.
IU ratcheted up the defense to restore the double-digit lead. The Seminoles ratcheted back to close within three.
A technical free throw and a Green three-pointer pushed the lead to seven. Florida State pushed back to three, but no closer.
“We rose to the challenge,” Smith said. “We buckled down and got stops when it mattered most.”