DES MOINES, Iowa --- Robert Johnson came close to returning when IU played Michigan in the Big Ten Tournament last week, but ultimately decided to sit out and wait until this week.
The sophomore guard's patience was rewarded, as received his first playing time since Feb. 20 in IU's 99-74 opening-round win over Chattanooga in the NCAA Tournament.
"I felt pretty good all day," Johnson said. "The pain didn't feel any different as it usually does, especially these last couple of practices. So I'm encouraged with how I felt."
Johnson logged seven points in 24 minutes off the bench, making all three of his field goal attempts. Fifth-year guard Nick Zeisloft started in place of him, but the two were nearly even in the amount of minutes they received.
At the 16:16 mark in the first half, Johnson relieved Zeisloft and officially checked in. His first points came with 3:57 left until halftime, when he swished a 3-pointer from the right swing off an assist by Ferrell.
However, it could be argued his greater contribution to the offense during the first half was his passing. He had assisted on three of Indiana's baskets before burying that 3-pointer, and finished with six assists overall.
While Johnson appeared to be playing at full strength, two of his teammates were not.
Junior forward Collin Hartman and freshman forward Juwan Morgan both played hurt in Indiana's win over Chattanooga. Hartman sported a wrap around his wrist, while Morgan had a brace around his shoulder.
Hartman managed eight points, five assists and four rebounds in 21 minutes, while Morgan had six points, three rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 15 minutes off the bench.
"When you've got guys that can play quality minutes, quality time and play numerous positions like Juwan and OG can that's very helpful," IU head coach Tom Crean said. "But we missed (Johnson) and we were able to win when he wasn't there, but we certainly enjoyed having him back there today."
Anunoby continues strong play
Less than a week ago, OG Anunoby matched his then-career high of 13 points. On Thursday, he exceed it and set a new career high of 14 points in Indiana's win over Chattanooga.
"I just tried to come out and play hard and trusted my teammates," Anunoby said. "We all just tried to make the right plays."
Anunoby made a number of incredible plays, including steals and transition dunks on consecutive defensive possessions. One of those fast breaks was capped off by an impressive 360 dunk that showed similarities to former IU guard Victor Oladipo's dunk in the 2013 Big Ten Tournament against Illinois.
"It definitely brings the level of intensity up," Ferrell said. "When we see OG do a dunk like that, we just want to see want to see it again. We see him many (do that) practices, so we're not surprised to see it, but that's just us going out there and having fun, playing together as a unit and when we can do that we can do very well."
In his last two games, Anunoby has scored 27 points on a combined 12 of 13 shooting from the field. Crean said a reporter "lost me" on the Anunoby-Oladipo comparisons after the game, but did recognize Anunoby's potential.
"I know it's March and there are wild things out there, but that one is a little strong," Crean said. "OG has a lot of potential and if he continues because of that size, length, his ability to move his feet he's going to be an outstanding player in his own right."
Record number of 3s made this season
Indiana set the school record for most 3-pointers made in a single season in its win over Chattanooga. The Hoosiers now have 324 3s this season.
IU has made at least eight 3-pointers in 10 of its last 11 games and improved to 23-4 in the 27 games it has made at least eight 3s this year.