You might want to double check to be sure this one ended up in the win column.
The Hoosiers never led by more than two in the first half and Morehead State ran out to its biggest first half lead — 11 points — to close out the first stanza. Despite some rallies, the Eagles actually extended their lead to as much as 15. But Indiana secured the win on a 20-4 run over the last eight minutes of the second half.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers won 69-68 with another edition of The Report Card.
Indiana (8-3, 2-0) will next face North Alabama in Bloomington on Thursday.
Morehead State’s strategy was to make someone other than Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau beat them, and for a while it didn’t look like anyone else would.
“(Indiana) runs everything through those guys, so we were going to try to make them beat us from somewhere else,” Morehead State coach Preston Spradlin said. “I thought we did a great job of that. They hit three threes here tonight. We didn’t allow those guys to get into a rhythm and get comfortable. We did a really nice job of pushing those catches out, throwing a couple of extra bodies at them and rotating out. You want a team like this to beat you some other way than what they practice and what they work on every day. We did a nice job of that.”
Ware and Reneau combined for just 12 shots from the field.
The shooting splits were abysmal — 39.7 percent overall, 18.8 percent from three, and 57.1 percent from the free throw line.
What saved IU was the fact that they committed just five turnovers, and just one in the second half, and none in the final 14 minutes. Fueled by the opportunities provided by that ball security, the Hoosiers doubled up their points per possession from the first half to the second.
Part of the improvement was an emphasis on pushing the pace and moving the basketball. Indiana is a far better offensive team when they do those two things.
IU shot 45 percent from the field, 30 percent from three and 68.4 percent from the line after the break. And they had seven assists to one turnover in the second half.
Overall they scored 1.03 points per possession.
Indiana held Morehead State to 25-of-65 (38.5%) shooting and 10-of-34 (29.4%) from the 3-point line. Those seem like winning numbers, but somehow it felt much worse than that.
The main reason why was Jordan Lathon’s 30 points in the first 30 minutes. Mike Woodson emphasized keeping the ball out of the hands of the red hot shooter down the stretch, and he didn’t score again.
“I thought Gallo (Trey Galloway) started to really take the ball away from him some,” Woodson said. “When he got rid of it, I told Gallo not to let him get it back if he could so he was trying in that area to keep the ball out of his hands because he was basically the hottest player on the floor.”
Playing two centers and a forward against four guards, Indiana found itself in some difficult perimeter assignments. And in part due to that and absence of Xavier Johnson, the Hoosiers are not creating turnovers.
We’ve seen this story before. Smaller, quicker team shoots a ton of threes, and gets offensive rebounds. But after the Eagles claimed seven offensive rebounds in the first half, they got just two in the second.
The Eagles scored 1.01 points per possession — which was actually more than Kansas produced against IU a couple days earlier. It was clear early in the game Indiana was a step slow. But the Hoosiers extended their pressure and made everything more difficult in the second half. Morehead State missed nine straight shots down the stretch and didn’t score for more than six minutes.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- Red flags emerged for IU men’s basketball against Morehead State
- Watch: Mike Woodson and Anthony Walker discuss win over Morehead State
- IU basketball: Indiana 69 Morehead State 68 — Three keys, highlights, final stats
- Mike Woodson says Xavier Johnson hasn’t returned to the practice floor
- Extended highlights:
*Trey Galloway (B-) The senior guard made some clutch plays in the second half including two threes. After some early defensive struggles against Jordan Lathon, Galloway didn’t allow him to score in the final nine minutes. He had a strange stat line with no rebounds and just one assist.
*Malik Reneau (C) Double teams took away his offensive game. Reneau once again was in foul trouble. He missed key free throws, but had a game saving block on the final possession in a tough matchup vs. a guard.
*Kel’el Ware (C-) He was shut out in the first half, then scored eight of his ten points in the first two minutes of the second half, and then vanished again. Morehead State tried hard to take him away, but Ware allows himself to be pushed around. And he wasn’t a big presence on the glass.
*Mackenzie Mgbako (C) It was a poor shooting night, and there were more defensive rotation lapses. But Mgbako was aggressive on the glass and led the team in second half scoring with 11 points after the break.
*Gabe Cupps (C+) Cupps continues to not be a scoring threat, and he even missed free throws in this one. But he did grab five rebounds and continues to play without committing turnovers.
Anthony Walker (A) It seems fairly obvious Indiana doesn’t win this game without Walker’s contributions. And that includes, scoring, rebounding, and closing out on shooters. Mike Woodson opted to play him down the stretch. That speaks volumes, and it paid off.
Kaleb Banks (D) Banks is making effort plays, but his shot is way off right now. He doesn’t look like a confident shooter.
C.J. Gunn (D) He missed two open threes and that was the end of his night.
Peyton Sparks (D) didn’t have a meaningful impact in four minutes.
Anthony Leal did not play.
Xavier Johnson was out with a lower leg/foot injury. Jakai Newton (knee) is out long-term.
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