BLOOMINGTON, IN - JANUARY 09, 2022 - the Indiana Hoosiers Men's Basketball team during the game between the Minnesota Golden Gophers and the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IN. Photo By Andrew Mascharka/Indiana Athletics

Indiana looks to reverse fortunes in road games on Friday at Xavier

Road games have not been kind to Indiana men’s basketball in recent history.

Over the last five seasons, IU owns a 14-40 record in true road games. That mark was 3-8 last season, when the Hoosiers endured some particularly painful results on the road. IU lost in double-overtime at Syracuse, blew leads against Wisconsin and Ohio State, and lost tight games at Penn State and Purdue.

The 12th-ranked Hoosiers will look to reverse their road fortunes Friday at Xavier in their first game away from Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The game tips off at 6 p.m. ET at the Cintas Center in Cincinnati, and will air on FS1.

IU head coach Mike Woodson knows his team’s margin for error becomes slimmer in away games.

“You’ve got to do all the necessary things to win on the road. It’s not easy winning on the road,” Woodson said. “When you go into these arenas, these guys, they feel good about themselves, too. They’re at home now. You’ve got to make them uncomfortable.”

Indiana’s trend in non-conference road games, specifically, is especially grim. IU has lost 10 straight non-conference away games. Those opportunities are obviously limited, as IU typically does not play many true road games in non-conference play.

IU has two true road games this year — Xavier and Kansas — outside of the Big Ten slate. This is the first time since 2018-19 (at Arkansas and Duke) — and the second time in the last decade — that IU has played multiple non-conference road games in the same season.

Junior guard Trey Galloway said a focused mentality is the key for Indiana to perform better in true road games.

“I think having discipline and knowing what we’ve got to do — follow the scout, doing the little things on defense, making the right plays on offense — everything just goes into play there,” Galloway said. “But I think just having that mentality going on the road and knowing that we can win is a thing we have to have this year.”

Woodson made similar comments about road games coming down to little things. He said IU has to avoid turnover issues and general lapses, as just a few missed rebounds or defensive assignments can swing games like these.

Most of IU’s road struggles in non-conference play have come against quality opponents, and this game is no different. Xavier isn’t ranked in the AP Top 25, but the Musketeers check in at No. 36 in KenPom.

But for the Hoosiers to achieve their goals this year, they’ll have to overcome hostile environments and difficult opponents — and, sometimes, both. This is the first good team IU will see on the road this season, but far from the last.

It’s also the first exposure IU’s freshmen will have to college basketball road environments. There’s only so much that can prepare them for that experience before actually stepping in it for the first time, but Galloway said IU’s veterans will have to help them through any tough moments. The Hoosiers have had plenty of time to make sure the freshmen know what to expect, with over a week between games.

Indiana has looked good so far to start this season, but this is the team’s first real test. Woodson — and all of us — should learn a lot about these Hoosiers on Friday.

“I think everybody has got to be ready. You hope to lean on your veterans because they have been around and they’ve been out on the road in environments like that. It can be kind of nerve-racking for some of these young guys,” Woodson said. “I’m interested to see who steps up and who is ready to play and see where we are.”

See also:

The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”