Indiana men’s basketball pulled away with ease in its second exhibition game.
The Hoosiers took control in the first half, and rode it to a 104-59 win over Saint Francis Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
The Cougars hung in at the very beginning, as the teams entered the first media timeout tied at 11. But IU took over from there, outscoring Saint Francis 42-13 in the rest of the first half.
As a team, Indiana shot 65 percent from the field, 61 percent on free throws, and 37 percent from 3-point range. Indiana committed nine turnovers while forcing 12 the other way.
Senior Trayce Jackson-Davis and sophomore Tamar Bates both missed IU’s exhibition game on Saturday with nagging injuries, but both players returned to action Thursday.
Jackson-Davis sported a wrap on his right hand, but still dominated. He led Indiana with 19 points on a 6-of-8 line, and finished with nine rebounds and two blocks. Jackson-Davis shot 7 for 8 from the free-throw line.
Freshman Malik Reneau reverted to the bench with Jackson-Davis’ return, but he continued to impress. He shot 7 of 8 for 15 points with eight rebounds, four assists, and two blocks.
Reneau has been impressive in both exhibition games, displaying a lot of potential in many facets of the game.
“(What’s been working well is) just being an energizer off the bench, and just showing that I’m able to do anything on the court, helping my team out with rebounding, posting up, stepping out and handling the ball on the perimeter,” Reneau said. “It’s just showing that I can do a lot of stuff and just being a spark plug off the bench.”
Freshman Jalen Hood-Schifino made some highlight-reel plays Thursday. He wasted no time after the opening tipoff, quickly finding Jackson-Davis for an alley-oop just seconds into the game. He put up 15 points on a 6-of-8 shooting line, including a 3-for-3 clip from 3-point range. He added a team-high five assists, plus two rebounds, a block, and a steal.
Hood-Schifino’s strong play isn’t surprising anyone. Reneau, his high school teammate at Montverde Academy, is constantly impressed by his friend.
“What you can expect from Jalen Hood-Schifino is just a leader, someone that’s going to be there every day working hard every single day and ready to go,” Reneau said. “He has a pro bag. He gets to his spots.”
Senior Xavier Johnson struggled heavily in the Marian game, and though his shooting percentage was better Thursday, he had trouble again. He shot 3 for 8 for eight points, grabbed three rebounds, and dished three assists. But he also committed three turnovers, and got in foul trouble in the first half.
IU head coach Mike Woodson pulled Johnson aside for an individual conversation at times during both games. After the game, Woodson told Johnson that this IU team has enough pieces that he doesn’t have to do everything this season.
“There’s going to be nights X is going to explode offensively and have big games, and there’s going to be nights that might not happen. But he’s still got to be Xavier Johnson for us,” Woodson said. “He’s still got to defend. He’s still got to get the ball where it’s got to go and set us up, break press defenses and things of that nature.”
Freshman Kaleb Banks and sophomore Logan Duncomb did not play due to illnesses. Both players were on the court in sweats during pregame warmups.
IU opens regular season play on Monday night against Morehead State, tipping off at 7 p.m. in Bloomington.
Woodson knows the road only gets more difficult from here for the Hoosiers.
“Our size was a big difference in both (exhibition) ballgames, but we know as we continue this journey, we’re going to face teams that are just as big as we are. Then we’ve got to see what we’re made of,” Woodson said. “I just was anxious to get these two games under our belt to see where we were from a player-coach standpoint, and now it starts for real on Monday against Morehead State. We’ve got a lot of work on our hands still.”
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