There was a lid on the rim on one end, and a game of give-away taking place on the other.
A strong defensive effort by Indiana helped them run out to a 37-14 halftime lead at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington and cruise to a 76-44 victory. The defense helped to mask a mistake-riddled effort by the Hoosiers on the other end, something they’ll need to clean up before a looming high-major gauntlet arrives.
Let’s take a closer look at the win with this edition of the Report Card.
IU (4-0) will host Jackson State at 7 p.m. Eastern on Tuesday evening.
When they took care of the ball, the outcome was generally positive, but way too often they did not.
Louisiana had a good mix of athletes and length, and their aggressive style never allowed Indiana to get comfortable in the half court. That led to 27 turnovers, and an astoundingly high 35.9 percent turnover rate.
A normally positive Mike Woodson couldn’t hide his disappointment in those numbers, and he revealed the plan to address it.
“It’s a lot of running that’s got to take place tomorrow,” Woodson said. “But at the end of the day, this is something we haven’t been accustomed to doing and I’m a little disappointed about that.
“Our point guards had eight between them, and Geronimo is doing things that he shouldn’t be doing with the ball. So those are things that we can clean up.”
The challenge Indiana is having right now is trying to balance playing fast while not giving it away.
“It’s good to play with great pace, but you can’t turn the ball over,” Woodson said.
“So we’ll break this tape down, and if I got to go turnover by turnover, they are going to see it and know about it.”
On the season Indiana’s turnover rate is 22.2 percent, No. 275 in the country.
IU still managed more than a point per possession with a 63.5 percent effective field goal percentage and their best night from behind the arc since Feb. 17 with a 10-for-19 effort. And their points came through ball movement, with assists on 22 of their 28 field goals.
But most of the turnovers came via ball movement as well.
You name it, IU did it in the first half. An 0-for-25 shooting drought by Louisiana, a 14-point half, multiple four-minute plus scoring droughts by the Ragin’ Cajuns, a 12 percent effort from the field in the first half, and the lowest opposing field goal percentage (19.2) in a game since at least 1997.
No doubt part of the story was simply a poor shooting night by Louisiana in a tough environment.
“Those are shots we would make and I thought we short armed a couple,” head coach Bob Marlin said after the game. “They had a couple blocked shoots early in the game. I think we tied actually in blocked shots. They got after us early and kind of got ahead a little bit. And we haven’t played in front of a crowd like this either, so it was a different environment for our guys. But Indiana’s defense was outstanding.”
Indiana’s defense isn’t easy to execute at this level of effectiveness. They are switching in groups (1 through 3 and 4 through 5) and the ball screen coverages are unique based on personnel. So a lot of credit goes to the players for being nearly flawless in that execution. But we’ve seen high level first half defense by Indiana break down after the break. That didn’t happen on Sunday night. Louisiana still only shot 25 percent from the field in the second half.
“You just got to do the things that got you the lead, and the defensive end was the reason you were in the position you were in,” Woodson said. “So you got to stay solid in that area. I thought we were pretty good the second half for the most part.”
Louisiana came into the game averaging 77 points per game but could only muster 44 points in Bloomington The 44 points they scored were the fewest IU has conceded since November 9, 2018, against Montana State (35). It was also IU’s best points per possession night (.584) since that Montana State contest.
Indiana now has the No. 1 defense in the country at defending 2-point shots (31.9 percent).
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Woodson and Lander post-game
- Defense has a historic night
Trayce Jackson-Davis (B+) 11 points, 7 rebounds, 2 blocks and 2 assists in just 19 minutes is another strong night, and Jackson-Davis made his free throws. He had a really crafty right hand reverse layup, but also missed on a couple opportunities that should have been right-handed attempts against length.
Race Thompson (B+) Thompson also played just 19 minutes but was highly productive and played with great energy. Like many of his teammates there were a couple judgment lapses with ball security.
Miller Kopp (A-) On a night of 27 turnovers, Kopp had none of them despite playing more minutes than anyone. He’s now made three of his last four attempts from beyond the arc, and he put together a strong rebounding night against a good rebounding opponent.
Parker Stewart (A) Stewart has struggled to maintain his scoring production throughout games, but that wasn’t the case on Sunday as he nearly produced a point per minute and continued to show he can hold his own defensively. The 4-of-5 night from three is something he has done in practice and scrimmages and why Stewart is starting.
Xavier Johnson (D) Johnson’s first half was a disaster with no points, no assists, three turnovers and a technical foul. He was much better after the break with six assists in nine minutes, but he put IU in a potentially tough spot when they handed the game to his backup.
Tamar Bates (B) Bates is starting to simply look like one of the veterans on the court. He has a seemingly endless repertoire of ways he can score the ball, including a highly-arced mid-range shot with a man right in his face, and a baseline floater that went against his momentum as he headed out of bounds. If he cleans up the freshman mistakes the sky is the limit.
Jordan Geronimo (D) Geronimo was very active, we’ll give him that, but perhaps he was too active? He had six rebounds, two blocks and two steals in 21 minutes, but his five turnovers were a result of trying to do too much and a still developing skill set.
Khristian Lander (B+) This was a potentially tough spot for Lander against a very aggressive defense. But he proved to be up for the challenge. Like Johnson he will likely always be a bit turnover prone with his aggressive style, but Lander showed significant development on both ends of the floor. He can make the point guard minutes rotation very interesting the rest of the way.
Anthony Leal (C) Leal had two turnovers in seven minutes. On the plus side he played with a physical, aggressive style. He isn’t afraid to put his body in harm’s way.
Michael Durr (C) Durr is still working his way into shape, but he’ll need to be more efficient on the low block and more of a factor on the glass. He did produce two blocks to contribute to the defensive effort.
Nate Childress (A) How about a walk-on producing four rebounds in five minutes and knocking down a three? If it came to it, Childress could give IU a few good minutes in a pinch.
Rob Phinisee and Trey Galloway were out with injuries. Logan Duncomb was out due to a three game suspension.
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