Bloomington-Before Saturday's game against Ohio State, freshman Matt Roth probably didn't think he would hit nine 3-pointers in a losing effort. In the process, he tied a school record, equaling Roderick Wilmont's mark set in 2007.
While the Hoosiers took another tough loss, perhaps it was a bit easier to swallow for the Hoosier fans, thanks to Roth's shooting clinic. The young Hoosier shot 9-of-11 from long range and made both of his free throw attempts for 29 points on the day, tying Ohio State sophomore Evan Turner for game-high honors.
Roth's nine treys gave him the distinction of being the only freshman in Big Ten history to accomplish such a feat.
Roth did not attempt a two-point field goal during the game, as his teammates consistently found him open around the arc. What may be the most impressive statistic, though, was Roth's points-per-shot. His 29 points on 11 shots gives him an average of 2.63 points-per-shot. The efficient shooting of Roth enabled the Hoosiers to stay in a game that may have gotten away from them otherwise.
"We knew it was a matter of time with him," said IU Coach Tom Crean. "He has been spending so much more time in the gym on his own. He is an excellent shooter and sometimes when you're really good at something you can take it for granted once in awhile. He hasn't done that.
"Since the Lipscomb game he has really been one of our bigger gym rats in the sense of doing more things after practice or coming back at night. And he needs to continue to do that because that is how it gets done."
In conference play, Roth has shot 20 of 38 from long range, is good for 52 percent. Overall this season, Roth is shooting 30 of 79, which equates to 38 percent.
As a team, Indiana has shot very well from beyond the arc as of late, shooting 35 of 66 in their last three games. Crean attributed these numbers to the amount of zone his team has faced recently. "The more you move it, the more you screen, the more you share it the better it is. A lot of it is making the next pass, and making the next pass after that," he said.
The beneficiary of that better ball movement on Saturday was Roth, who more than doubled his previous career high of 12.
"My teammates did a great job," Roth said. "The offense that's been instilled in our team worked great tonight and we were really good against their zone."
The extra work he's put in also helped ready him for Saturday's big effort.
"It's just a matter of getting a lot of reps in practice. Sometimes you don't get enough reps and [Crean]'s had some great shooters in the past that come in and get extra shots in; it's something that I've been doing," Roth said.
Other Hoosiers took note of Roth's hot shooting, and fellow freshman Nick Williams said they made a conscious effort to get him the ball.
"Every time we get the ball, when he was hot like he was today, we look for him. We know he can make almost every shot on the court, whether it's five or ten feet behind the 3-point line. I know every time I got it I was looking for him," he said.
Senior Kyle Taber concurred. "We just have to keep finding ways to get him the ball," he said.
Ohio State coach Thad Matta was certainly impressed by Roth's shooting abilities. "I wanted him to keep shooting because I was thinking this is one of the most amazing things I've ever seen. When he hit the leaner there, it was like ‘This is impressive', " he said.
Roth's performance tonight made history, as did the loss. It was the 11th consecutive setback for the Hoosiers, which tied a school record. Up next is a home game against the Hawkeyes of Iowa. In the first matchup this season, Roth was a mere 1 of 4 from 3-point range. If his hot shooting continues, however, the Hoosiers could be primed for their first Big Ten victory.