It was a nail biter, but Indiana passed their first big test of the season with an 81-79 win against Xavier in Cincinnati.
The Hoosiers trailed by nine in the first half before pulling to within 40-38 at halftime. Indiana took multiple eight point leads in the second half, and held on for the narrow win.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers won with another edition of The Report Card.
IU (3-0) will play Miami (Ohio) in Indianapolis on Sunday afternoon at 5:30 p.m. Eastern (BTN).
Xavier head coach Sean Miller has a reputation for producing high-end and tough-minded defensive teams. In his first year back with the program, the Musketeers may not quite be there yet, but this was an impressive offensive performance by the Hoosiers against a respectable, physical, high major defense.
Indiana scored 1.13 points per possession, a figure they only exceeded six times last year in games against high majors. Most of the damage by IU came in the paint, where they scored 50 of their points. Both a slashing Xavier Johnson, and flurry of post touches by Indiana’s frontcourt made the difference against a defensive style intent on keeping the ball on the perimeter.
“Our defense wasn’t good enough,” Miller said after the game. “We just couldn’t handle Indiana in the paint.”
IU took care of the ball relatively well, with just 11 turnovers on the night in a tough road environment.
Xavier tried to mix up their defense with a zone but Indiana was on top of it, making two of their four threes against it. And when the Musketeers tried to press late, IU handled it fairly well, although there were a few close calls. Indiana may have caught a break because Miller seemed reluctant to double despite Trayce Jackson-Davis’ dominance. To his credit, the IU big man read a late double-team and found a wide-open Miller Kopp for a key 3-pointer.
The Hoosiers were very good on the offensive glass. They snared 36 percent of their misses, which led to 15 second chance points. Many of IU’s offensive rebounds were simply a result of better effort and better athletes.
Xavier started out hot from behind the 3-point arc, as Indiana appeared slow to close out at times, and off on coverages a time or two. The Musketeers made 4-of-7 from deep to start the game and then just 3-of-10 the rest of the way.
But IU made life relatively difficult inside the arc, where Xavier made just 21-of-47 (44.7 percent) with the Hoosiers producing seven blocked shots.
Indiana gave up 1.11 points per possession. They only allowed more than that in seven games a year ago, and they lost six of those seven. So this was clearly a defensive effort that put IU on the brink of a loss. They didn’t force many turnovers (12) and allowed too many offensive rebounds (13).
Xavier had five score 13 or more points, so they were getting beat in a variety of ways, including 40 points in the paint. In addition to the early threes, the Musketeers were effective at times on the dribble drive.
This was obviously a far more talented opponent than IU had faced in its first two games, but the Hoosiers will have to tighten things up or they’ll find themselves on the wrong side of some of these close ones down the road.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- IU leans on veterans to win tough road game
- Watch: Trayce Jackson-Davis and Malik Reneau discuss win over Xavier
- Watch: IU basketball coach Mike Woodson discusses win over Xavier
- IU basketball: Indiana 81 Xavier 79 — Three keys | Highlights | Final stats
- Long form highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (A) From an offensive efficiency standpoint, this was about as good as it gets considering the competition level and road environment. Jackson-Davis was simply unstoppable, and never seemed to wear down. It wasn’t a big rebounding night, and he had three turnovers, but it is hard to find any serious holes in this effort.
Race Thompson (B) The 3-point shooting sticks out, but Thompson had a fairly strong showing otherwise, especially on the boards. The minutes allocation with Reneau continues to be an interesting dynamic to watch, and Thompson’s 3-point shooting appears to be a key variable.
Xavier Johnson (A-) Indiana was clearly on another level when Johnson was in the game. This effort brought to mind his high-level play late last season. Four turnovers and a technical foul kept this from being a masterpiece, but IU will be nearly impossible to beat when Johnson plays at this level.
Miller Kopp (C) Give Kopp some credit — despite an overall rough night — he was ready when Jackson-Davis read the double-team and found him in the corner for a three that gave IU a 78-70 lead. But Kopp had no rebounds in 28 minutes, and he gave up some dribble penetration. His presence spaces the floor, but he’ll need to put this one behind him. Kopp is still 7-of-12 from three on the season.
Jalen Hood-Schifino (B-) The freshman is in a shooting slump, now just 3-of-17 from the field over his last two games. But he had five rebounds, four assists and just one turnover while playing solid defensively on the other end including two steals.
Malik Reneau (A-) Reneau is so impactful when he enters games, it’s hard to believe he only played 16 minutes. In his first high major college basketball game he produced 12 points and six rebounds in that relatively limited run. His toughness and physicality are at a level rarely seen from freshman. He had to play through foul trouble including a technical that was a byproduct of his intense style.
Trey Galloway (B+) Galloway didn’t force anything. He delivered four assists against no turnovers. He got beat a couple times on dribble drives but was otherwise solid on both ends, while not presenting a major scoring threat.
Tamar Bates (D) This was a concerning effort from Bates, who seemed sped up on offense and slow to react on defense. There were shades of his freshman year on the road.
Jordan Geronimo also played five minutes.
Indiana had all 13 scholarship players healthy and available on Friday, and nine saw the floor.
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