Geoff Burke; USA Today

Freshmen De'Ron Davis, Devonte Green and Curtis Jones step up in win over Iowa

Three Indiana freshmen combined for a season-high point total to lead their team to a win in the Hoosiers' opening Big Ten Tournament game.

The last time Indiana played Iowa, the Hoosiers' three freshmen combined for 16 points and Indiana lost in overtime.

The trio nearly doubled that total to a season-high 31 on Thursday and IU blew the doors off the Hawkeyes in the second of half of a 95-73 Big Ten Tournament victory at the Verizon Center in Washington. 

"Freshmen aren't freshmen no more," said big man De'Ron Davis. "We all just look to get better each and every day. Curt[is Jones] works on his game every day, Devonte [Green] works on his game every day and so do I. We just want to be able to contribute to the team and just get on the court and do something with our time."

Davis was a star for the Hoosiers in the post, scoring a career-best 15 points on 7-for-7 from the field in just 14 minutes of playing time. The 6-foot-10 240-pound post player got easy shots near the basket all night as he poured in six layups and a short jumper. The career-high point total came on the heels of back-to-back games in which he didn't score a single point.

"Just being aggressive, playing low," the former Colorado Mr. Basketball said of what made him successful against Iowa. "Me and Coach [Tom] Crean had countless talks about me being low. That obviously works for me. Just being active on the defensive end. Defense really works for us. Being active on the defensive end leads to easy buckets on the offensive end."

Davis seemed to work particularly well with fellow big man Thomas Bryant on the floor with him. During one first half stretch, the freshman and the sophomore combined for 11 consecutive points, turning an early 11-6 deficit into a 17-13 lead that the Hoosiers would hold for the large majority of the game. 

"We're a both a threat, both inside and out," Davis said of his pairing with Bryant. "Thomas is a great shooter on the outside, so if you try to double me in the post, I can kick out to Thomas and he can knock that down. And if you don't, I have a one-on-one matchup."

Davis's fellow first-year Devonte Green had an excellent game, as well, pouring in 10 points on 4-for-6 from the field, hitting both 3-pointers he attempted and adding five rebounds. Seven of his points came in one 3:43 stretch in the second half as the Hoosiers' lead swelled from 10 to 18 and they put the game away. 

"We were just out there playing with confidence," Green said.

Curtis Jones, the third member of the high school class of 2016 to play an outsized role on Thursday, knocked down a pair of 3s in the first half and gave Indiana valuable minutes when starting point guard Josh Newkirk picked up two fouls.

Indiana Coach Tom Crean said he was glad that Jones was able to get some minutes after he didn't play at all in the regular season finale against Ohio State. 

"He's earned it," Crean said. "I didn't play him the other day and I felt bad about it, because he earned it too...I thought Curtis went in and did a very good job. I'm not surprised. He's worked extremely hard. Again, he's a great example of our program, what happens year after year."

After the the three freshmen helped their team to a season-prolonging win, it wasn't just the coaches who were impressed. Bryant said his younger teammates played an important role in the team's win. 

"We looked to them from the start," said Bryant, who finished with 11 points. "Those freshman helped us a lot. Knocking down shots, defense, whatever it was, they just went out there and did it. And it's really good when you have other guys who can come in, or have been in, and you can count on them to go out there and execute for you."


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