No sooner than Indiana appeared to be in some trouble, they put Kennesaw State away. And the shorthanded Hoosiers did it with the help of some unlikely suspects off the bench.
The Hoosiers started hot and ran out to a 13-point first half lead — the same margin they’d end up winning by. But in between was 44-27 Kennesaw State run that had the home crowd nervous. Indiana immediately responded, however, and closed the game with a 36-19 run over their own.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers won 100-87 with another edition of The Report Card.
Indiana (10-3, 2-0) will next travel to Nebraska when Big Ten play resumes on Wednesday.
There was a lot to like about the effort on the offensive end, especially down two starters.
Indiana shot 36-of-59 (61.0%) from the field and 7-of-15 (46.7%) from the 3-point line. It was their first game over 60% since January at Illinois.
IU needed several players to step up with Kel’el Ware out, and they saw six score in double figures. The last time IU had at least six players score in double figures was against Alcorn State on Nov. 30, 2015,
The Hoosiers started fast, making their first eight shots of the game.
“Coming into this game we had a little while to look at them, watch film on them and all that stuff,” Malik Reneau said. “We knew we were going to be able to get open shots. All we had to do was execute, get it to both sides of the floor.”
It wasn’t a flawless effort. True to form, Kennesaw State forced a lot of turnovers by Indiana (18), and the Hoosiers struggled at the stripe (21-of-33, 66 percent).
“We missed a lot of free throws. We turned the ball over 18 times. Those things are all fixable,” coach Mike Woodson said.
Indiana’s problems right now do not appear to be on this end of the floor. They scored 1.23 points per possession on a season high 66.9 percent effective field goal percentage.
For the first 27 minutes, Indiana could not stay in front of Kennesaw State’s lightning quick guards. And that led to a parade of scores in transition, off dribble-drives, and via kick-outs for threes.
Would it have helped to have Xavier Johnson on the ball? Would it have helped to have Kel’el Ware protecting the rim? Clearly, yes and yes.
Woodson created some challenges for himself when he picked a replacement in the starting lineup for Ware. Payton Sparks played well in the game, but was he the right fit against Kennesaw State on the defensive end? Overall, he wasn’t. And Johnson’s replacement Cupps wasn’t able to consistently stay in front of the ball.
But credit Woodson for figuring that all out on the fly when he team fell behind in the second half.
Woodson went with a lineup of Reneau, Anthony Walker, Kaleb Banks, Anthony Leal and Trey Galloway, and Kennesaw State missed eight of their next nine shots. The Owls also turned it over three times in that same span.
With Reneau at the center spot Indiana decided to switch on all screens which helped lead to better defense on three-point shots. The Owls were generating open threes off of screens, but missed four straight after going up by four. And by the time they made their next one, it was too late. Indiana had completed a 21-3 run over a game-deciding seven minute stretch.
But it’s very reasonable to question why the smaller lineup didn’t happen sooner in the game.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- When Indiana needed a spark against Kennesaw State, Anthony Leal checked in
- Watch: Woodson, Banks and Reneau discuss win over Kennesaw State
- IU basketball: Indiana 100 Kennesaw State 87– Three keys, highlights, final stats
- IU basketball: Center Kel’el Ware is out of the lineup vs. Kennesaw State
- Xavier Johnson expected to miss Indiana’s game against Kennesaw State
- Extended highlights:
*Trey Galloway (A-) The senior guard quietly put together a solid game with 14 points and seven assists. He’s made major strides as a facilitator via ball screens and hand-offs, and he made several crafty passes in this one. Galloway was on the floor during the key second half stretch.
*Mackenzie Mgbako (B-) Mgbako got off to a spectacular start but then quickly faded out of the picture. While he made four threes, he wasn’t nearly as effective when trying to score on the move, and the scout on him will quickly turn into requiring those drives. And defensive lapses and missed block outs were once again an issue. Perhaps notable, Mgbako was seen on the bench in the second half treating his leg.
*Malik Reneau (A-) Reneau was dominant on the offensive end, even while often navigating triple teams. He’s improved in his ability to avoid fouls which is keeping him on the floor and producing big nights. He did some underappreciated things like running the floor, guarding multiple positions effectively, and initiating the offense on the perimeter. He did have five turnovers and still does need to improve with recognizing double-teams.
*Gabe Cupps (C) Cupps was not a good match trying to stay in front of KSU’s quick guards, and he isn’t dynamic enough offensively right now to create stress on the opposing defense.
*Payton Sparks (B+) Sparks was aggressive, physical and protected the rim. A perfect 4-of-4 from the field, with eight rebounds, four blocks, two assists, and a steal in just 14 minutes is all you could ask for. Any shortcomings he had in this game were mainly just him being placed in bad matchups.
Anthony Walker (B) Walker made some important late game jump shots to help put KSU away, and he was important on the defensive end late. He did struggle with turnovers.
Kaleb Banks (B) He made an aggressive circus and-one drive to ignite the IU second half rally. Banks got off to a unsteady start but finished strong and played a key role on both ends during the decisive stretch.
C.J. Gunn (C) Gunn was effective on the defensive end in passing lanes, but wasn’t otherwise a major factor in limited action.
Anthony Leal (A-) Leal didn’t enter the game until IU appeared to be in trouble in the second half. He played the super-sub role well, especially on the defensive end as Indiana played its best defense in of the night when he was in the game. He doesn’t wow you, but Leal was locked in and effective.
Kel’el Ware was out with an illness, and Xavier Johnson was out with a lower leg/foot injury. Jakai Newton (knee) is out long-term.
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