After another rough start, Indiana found second half answers against a determined Kennesaw State squad on Friday evening at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
KSU ran out to a 22-15 late first half lead before IU tied it up at 27 at the break. The teams traded early second half runs, and the Owls led 40-36 with just over 12 minutes remaining. But IU closed the game on a 33-15 run and ended the game with their biggest lead of the night.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers earned the 69-55 win with another edition of The Report Card.
No. 18 Indiana (10-3, 1-1) will next travel to Iowa on Jan. 5 following a 12-day break.
Kennesaw State wasn’t big but had good length and athleticism that allowed them to switch just about everything they wanted in the first half. Couple that with some effective double-teaming of the post from the weak-side, and the Owls appeared to be on their way to a major upset.
But Indiana made two major adjustments that helped to jump start its dead offense on a sub-zero night in Bloomington.
Beginning late in the first half, head coach Mike Woodson abandoned the idea of playing with two post players save for the start of the second half. Instead he went with a small ball option, with Miller Kopp typically playing the four spot.
Then he pulled everyone out of the paint, opting to use Race Thompson at the top of the offense to set high ball screens and execute hand-offs.
“We just kind of opened the floor up a little bit offensively,” Woodson said.
The effects of those two moves were fairly dramatic. IU score .844 points per possession in the first half, and 1.355 in the second. Overall IU scored 1.06 per possession, the least productive they’ve been in a win this season.
The smaller lineup led to a season low 17.2 percent offensive rebounding rate, but as a trade-off, the Hoosiers took care of the ball.
There was a point in the game when it appeared poor free throw shooting would be part of the story surrounding an IU loss. The Hoosiers drew fouls and got to the line at their highest rate of the season — but they made just 16-of-26 (61.5 percent)
Kennesaw State started the game on a torrid pace from beyond the 3-point arc, making five of their first nine attempts from long range. Indiana seemed to have some coverage breakdowns, and the Owls also hit a few tough shots. With 3-point shooting making the difference, IU made an adjustment on the defensive end as well.
“Tonight we had to extend our nail a little bit because we were really deep on the free-throw line,” IU guard Tamar Bates said. “We wanted to bring it out more where the three-point line is just so we could get out to the shooters a lot quicker. You saw they were making a lot of shots, a lot of threes. That’s where most of their offense came from.”
After the 5-of-9 start from three, KSU made just 5-of-16 the rest of the way. The Owls made just 8-of-30 (26.7 percent) of their 2-point shots, a fairly impressive figure given the lack of rim protection IU had without Trayce Jackson-Davis and the smaller lineups. And overall the Owls made just 33 percent from the field for the game.
Kennesaw State scored just .843 points per possession. That’s lowest allowed by IU since the Jackson State game, and fifth lowest of the season.
IU was only able to force eight turnovers on the night, but they only allowed four offensive rebounds and won the overall rebounding margin 40-28.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- For the first time in weeks, IU basketball overcame adversity and finished the job
- Watch: Mike Woodson and Tamar Bates discuss win over Kennesaw State
- IU basketball: Indiana 69 Kennesaw State 55 — Three keys | Highlights | Final stats
- Trayce Jackson-Davis not playing against Kennesaw State, Geronimo to return
- Long form highlights:
Race Thompson (B) Thompson was inefficient from the field and 0-of-4 from the stripe. But he tied his career-high rebounding total, blocked shots, made some good passes, and showed poise at the top of the offense.
Miller Kopp (B) This was a good game for Kopp to play the small ball four role. He didn’t have a good shooting night, but Kopp made a couple big second half shots and played a clean game offensively. On the other end the Owls were finding ways to isolate him on the perimeter with some success.
Trey Galloway (A-) Galloway gave IU their first offensive spark with a couple first half threes. He added six rebounds from his guard spot and had no turnovers despite having the ball a lot. After a slow start he became highly impactful fighting through screens on the defensive end.
Jalen Hood-Schifino (A-) The freshman point guard was a real difference maker for IU, especially in the second half. Indiana was +22 in the second half with him on the floor, and he scored 14 points on 5-of-6 shooting after the break. He does have to become much more careful when it comes to passing the ball.
Malik Reneau (D) The extent to which Reneau is struggling is officially becoming concerning at this point. He is playing with indecision and continues to foul too much. The freshman forward had four turnovers and two fouls in just 14 minutes.
Tamar Bates (A) The sophomore guard played the most minutes of his career and has posted at least 13 points in four of IU’s last eight games. He got himself going with a couple transition dunks, and Bates made back-to-back threes to turn a 40-36 KSU lead into a two-point IU advantage they would never relinquish. Bates is now up to 41.7 percent form three on the season on 48 attempts. He was also part of the improved defensive effort as the game wore on.
Jordan Geronimo (B-) Playing with a dislocated finger, Geronimo had some challenges with finishing around the rim and rebounding. But he played well on the defensive end and was able to get to the line for eight free throw attempts in just 13 minutes. He got most of those attempts by being active without the ball.
C.J. Gunn and Logan Duncomb also appeared in the game. In total, Indiana had 11 scholarship players healthy and available on Friday. Trayce Jackson-Davis (back), and Xavier Johnson (foot) were out.
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