BLOOMINGTON-Ben Allen is happy to be on the outside looking in.
Indiana's freshman might be the biggest man on the Indiana roster at 6'11", but he's building his reputation with his prowess on the perimeter. The Australian import is not only a capable outside shooter, he's rapidly developing into one of the Hoosiers' most dangerous threats from behind the 3-point arc.
Allen is shooting a Big Ten-Best 73.3 percent (11-of-15) from behind the arc, pacing an Indiana team that is shooting a league-best 45.6 percent from deep. Overall, Allen is averaging 8.0 points and 3.4 rebounds in just 13.6 minutes/game, ranking him fourth on the team in both scoring and rebounding.
After a sluggish start, his play has picked up as of late. It all started with a 15-point, five-rebound performance in IU's 79-63 win over Eastern Michigan, a performance that, quite frankly, Allen wasn't expecting.
"I felt really down before that game," said Allen, who played a then season-high 23 minutes in the game. "I felt like I really didn't want to go out there. When coach pulled me up, I said, ‘I have to go do this.'"
That effort was a precursor to a huge evening in Terre Haute three nights later, when Allen single-handedly kept the Hoosiers in the game against Indiana State. Allen finished with season-highs of 21 points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes while knocking down 8-of-10 shots, including 5-of-6 from behind the 3-point arc.
Those performances have given Allen plenty of confidence as the Big Ten season draws near.
"It's done a great deal for me," said Allen. "Having the breakout game against Eastern Michigan and then backing it up against Indiana State, even though we lost, was great for my confidence."
Allen didn't make as big of an impact in Saturday's rout of Kentucky – he had four points, four rebounds and one block in 14 minutes – but that did little to his dampen his enthusiasm about the progress of his game or his team.
"Even against Kentucky I felt confident," said Allen. "I knew what to do with the ball, even though I didn't get as many minutes as I thought I would. When you have A.J. (Ratliff) and Marco (Killingsworth) in there doing what they're doing, I'm happy sitting on the bench and watching us kill Kentucky."
Allen figures to be back to playing a prominent role once again when the Hoosiers return to the floor Monday at Charlotte, and it will be his perimeter shooting that figures to have the 49ers' coaching staff scratching their heads. With Killingsworth and potentially D.J. White in the lineup and stationed in the post, Allen figures to be one of the Hoosiers' marksmen spotted up outside and waiting to fire.
And when that opportunity comes, more often than not, Allen has proven capable of delivering. In the early-going of his freshman year, he's proven to be one of those rare big man recruits whose ability the shoot from outside hasn't been just some tall tale concocted by an AAU or high school coach.
He's proof that there actually is some truth in advertising.
But Allen's contributions aren't limited to his long-range shooting. At 6'11" and 255 pounds, he has the skills to score in the paint, and he has the frame to free up others for opportunities as well.
"With that big body he should be a great screener, either off or on the ball," said IU Associated Head Coach Kerry Rupp. "He also has a good idea how to play off a screen as a second cutter. He's a guy who has great size and pretty good feet for a big guy. Being able to shoot that jumper, that's an added bonus."
While he's worked his way into a prominent role in the Hoosiers' rotation, there's a degree of uncertainty with how that will change with the imminent return of White to the Hoosier lineup. White is expected to start up front alongside Killingsworth, with Robert Vaden sliding over to the wing guard spot.
So will Indiana's best 3-point shooter suddenly turn into the third wheel on the frontline?
Don't count on it. Whether or not the Indiana staff would opt to go with its three big men on the floor at the same time is questionable, but Allen has certainly shown he's a player that can help Mike Davis' team win basketball games.
And if Davis and staff decide to go with all three big men at once, Allen for one is intrigued by the possibility.
"I'm excited for DJ to get back because that's just another guy they're going to have to stop inside which is going to free me up outside even more," said Allen. "On the same note when they realize I can shoot and double me, and I'll just give it to DJ and Marco inside and we'll just get dunks all game, so I'm excited to get that three-way going."
Big Ben's Time Has Come
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