Freshman guard Romeo Langford poured in 20 points to guide Indiana to a 68-66 victory over Northwestern in both teams’ Big Ten opener on Saturday afternoon in Bloomington, Ind.
Langford’s runner with 39 seconds left snapped the game’s 30th and final tie for the Hoosiers (6-2, 1-0), whose exuberance at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall was muted by the fact senior forward Juwan Morgan (17 points, 12 rebounds) injured his right leg with 3:30 to play and did not return.
Senior center Dererk Pardon scored a season-high 24 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to pace Northwestern (6-2, 0-1). Senior forward Vic Law added 16 points and nine rebounds in a taut affair in which neither team led by more than five points.
The Hoosiers entered the game ranked seventh nationally in field-goal percentage (.526), and they hit 61 percent of their shots in the first half to take a 37-33 lead, but the Wildcats clamped down and forced the hosts into 48 percent shooting after the break.
The Wildcats grabbed a 31-26 lead — the largest of the first half — as sophomore Anthony Gaines, junior A.J. Turner and Pardon threw down dunks in a two-minute span.
Indiana recovered by scoring 11 of the final 13 points of the half as the Hoosiers made four consecutive layups to close the half — including two by Morgan.
Pardon, who had too much size and quickness for the Hoosiers inside, made his first seven shots as Northwestern relied on him during key possessions throughout the second half.
Northwestern took its final lead, 61-58, as Pardon flipped in a shot from the lane and graduate transfer guard Ryan Taylor added a layup with 3:31 left.
Langford answered with a driving layup and then blocked a Law shot under the basket to set up Indiana’s go-ahead free throws by junior guard Devonte Green.
With the score knotted in the final minute, Langford cashed a runner to give Indiana the lead and then forced a steal at the other end.
Northwestern only had one more chance to tie or take the lead, but Taylor’s wild 3-pointer at the buzzer banged off the glass.
—Field Level Media