Indiana kicked off its highly anticipated 2022-23 season with a convincing win over Morehead State.
The Hoosiers let an early 16-9 edge slip away as Morehead State tied the game at 21 with 9:17 left in the first half. But it was lights out from there, as IU outscored the Eagles 67-32 over the remainder of the contest.
Let’s take a deeper look at how the Hoosiers won with this season’s first edition of The Report Card.
IU (1-0) will next play Bethune Cookman on Thursday evening. That game will tip at 8:30 p.m. Eastern and will air on the Big Ten Network.
There was more intrigue on the offensive end than exceptional play or cause for concern. Why? Indiana’s shot chart. The Hoosiers’ 11 3-point attempts out of a total of 59 shots was a rate (18.6 percent) that would have been last in the country a year ago by more than three percentage points. Neither of Indiana’s starting guards even attempted a three.
From the field, Indiana shot 61.0 percent (36-of-59), their best shooting clip since the Hoosiers made 64.8 percent (35-of-54) of their shots against Marquette on Nov. 14, 2018. So their 3-point volume was certainly no issue against a mid-major foe like Morehead State.
The question isn’t whether Indiana had an effective strategy on Monday. It’s whether it will translate against high majors with real size and length. Mike Woodson didn’t seem concerned.
“Our strength is playing inside out,” Woodson said after the game. “I mean, it’s no secret. I’m not trying to hide that.”
Morehead State was not left wondering why Indiana was so intent on playing the way they did.
“They’ve got a really dynamic team with their size and their athleticism, their ability to post the ball and play off the bounce,” Morehead State’s Preston Spradlin said.
IU scored 1.228 points per possession, a mark they only exceeded three times last year, so wherever the points were coming from, the Hoosiers were highly efficient. Just 10 turnovers helped the cause, and half of those came from the frontcourt. Six players scored eight or more points, so they were highly balanced as well. No one scored more than 15 despite the team hitting the 88 mark, a point total they only exceeded once a year ago in regulation.
But points were left on the table at the free throw line. At first IU struggled to get to the line, with no attempts in the first 12 minutes, and when they got there they missed six of their first seven. All told Indiana finished 12-of-21 from the stripe, and that was Woodson’s lone complaint on the night.
“I just don’t like the fact that we’re missing free throws,” he said. “That’s really bothering me as a coach.”
Something to keep an eye on — Indiana’s average possession length was 16 seconds — a full 1.5 less than their season average from a year ago. The Hoosiers want to play faster this year, they certainly tried to do that on Monday, and they appear to have the players to get it done.
Indiana held Morehead State to .739 points per possession. Opponents were held lower than that mark only three times a year ago.
It can’t go unnoticed that Morehead State’s Mark Freeman didn’t play in the second half due to an injury. He burned IU for 14 first half points in just 14 minutes and no doubt could have helped keep the game closer.
The Eagles’ shot chart was the inverse of IU’s with 19 of their 27 field goal attempts coming from three in the first half. And six makes from long range by MSU including three by Freeman kept it interesting before the break.
Race Thompson said Indiana focused during halftime on slowing down MSU’s 3-point shooting, and the Hoosiers were better, both limiting attempts (11) and conversions (27.3 percent) in the second half.
Although its size advantage on the offensive end ruled the evening, on defense it created some issues with big men trying to guard smaller players on the perimeter. Woodson noted some miscues on switching, and he was disappointed with the rebounding margin, which was minus-one at halftime before IU finished with a 33-28 edge.
“We got to get better in that area (rebounding), too, man, because this was a close game (in the first half),” Woodson said. … ” I got to get our guards helping our bigs rebound.”
Indiana forced 21 turnovers and a 29.3 turnover rate — a figure better than all but one game from a season ago.
MORE GAME COVERAGE
- Three takeaways from IU men’s basketball’s win over Morehead State
- Watch: Woodson, Geronimo and Thompson react to IU win over Morehead State
- IU basketball: Indiana 88 Morehead State 53: Three keys | Highlights | Final stats
- Long form highlights:
Trayce Jackson-Davis (A-) Jackson-Davis is clearly limited with his right hand wrapped heavily to protect his injured thumb. He is avoiding dunks involving that hand, and it may be impacting his shooting. But at least against mid-majors, it doesn’t seem to matter much. Jackson-Davis is running the floor at an elite level, and he was highly productive in limited minutes.
Race Thompson (B) He played just 17 minutes on the night, something that will be interesting to monitor as the season progresses and he competes with Reneau for floor time. Thompson missed his first two 3-pointers and had only two rebounds on the night, but he still produced nine points in a fairly limited role.
Xavier Johnson (C) Johnson brought some of his unsteady play from the exhibitions to the season opener, with three fouls and two turnovers in just 20 minutes of action. Johnson got tagged for a couple whistles guarding Freeman. With depth at the point, it may be a good idea to let Johnson gamble, but Woodson continued his pattern from a year ago of benching players with two first half fouls.
Miller Kopp (B) During the first half it appeared Morehead State had effectively implemented the scout on Kopp from a year ago — stick to him on the perimeter. But he found a way to impact the game in the second half with two transition 3-pointers. While Kopp is starting, Woodson will likely ride the hot hand, or perhaps go with the best defender at the three spot in more competitive games.
Jalen Hood-Schifino (A-) There is nothing about this freshman guard that says freshman guard. And immediately we saw there will be no drop-off when Johnson is not on the floor. Hood-Schifino was plus-28, he didn’t force the action, and his court vision is top shelf. Hood-Schifino arrived at IU as a good free throw shooter, so we’ll chalk up his 1-of-4 night as a fluke.
Malik Reneau (A-) It was reasonable to wonder whether Reneau’s dominance against NAIA schools in the exhibitions was more about the opponents. There were no signs of a drop-off against his first Division One foe, as he made 6-of-8 shots, snared five rebounds and blocked two shots in just 17 minutes. Reneau’s size and strength allows him to step in and and play a tough-minded physical style from the jump. He did have three turnovers, however.
Trey Galloway (B) Galloway didn’t attempt a shot in 15 minutes, but he was one guard who was rebounding the way Woodson wants, and he was solid on the defensive end.
Tamar Bates (B) You can’t ignore three of Bates’ points came on a banked 3-pointer. So if you call that a miss, he was 0-of-3 on the night from long range. But Bates seemed to gain some confidence during the game after appearing to be sped up in his exhibition debut, and he was impactful on defense.
Jordan Geronimo (B+) The junior forward looked a lot like the late season version a year ago when he elevated his level of play off the bench. Geronimo hit a pair of shots to give IU a four-point lead after MSU had tied the game at 21. Turnovers are a lingering challenge, but his defense and play in transition made a major impact.
Indiana had all 13 scholarship players healthy and available on Monday, and all 13 saw the floor. C.J. Gunn, Kaleb Banks, Logan Duncomb and Anthony Leal all saw late game action, along with walk-on Nate Childress.
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