Indiana passed its final tune-up against a mid-major with flying colors on Friday night.
With their full complement of 13 scholarship players available, the Hoosiers built a double-digit lead at the 10:23 mark of the first half and never relinquished it. The margin swelled to as much as 41 points as the second unit and beyond kept their foot on the gas to deliver a comfortable win.
Next Mike Woodson’s squad will test their progress against their first high-major foe of the season.
Indiana (2-0) will host St. John’s on Wednesday at 9 p.m. in connection with the Gavitt Games.
Balance was a big part of the story in this one. Seven players had at least six points.
Indiana emphasized playing fast coming out of the win over Eastern Michigan, and that meant more than just transition. Mike Woodson wanted faster cuts, sharper passes and more aggressive attacks in the half court.
“It was better tonight,” Woodson said. “Again, we didn’t have that moment where we just went stale. I thought the ball moved. They forced our hand a little bit by pressing. So it gave us an opportunity to push the ball and get quick strikes that way, which I’m fine with that as well. But I thought tonight we really did a pretty good job executing in the half-court game.”
The Hoosiers scored 1.16 points per possession, well above their .89 against Eastern Michigan. 17 of Indiana’s points came off the fast break as they capitalized on 23 turnovers forced by the defense.
After a 4-of-24 day from three in the opener, IU made an improved if not great 8-of-23 (34.8 percent). Interestingly, eight different players made the eight threes.
On the negative side, the Hoosiers had 15 turnovers against 14 assists. That followed 13 assists and just 8 turnovers in the opener. IU will have to figure it how to play fast without significantly increasing their mistakes.
While Trayce Jackson-Davis’ seven blocked shots drew deserved praise, the real magic in this game happened at the top of the defense where Xavier Johnson and Rob Phinisee kept NIU’s dribble drives in check with ball-hawking defense that was often full court.
“I thought we did a great job on their perimeter play because they’re so good in terms of penetrating the basketball and making plays off the bounce,” Woodson said. “And I thought we did a great job in moving our feet and keeping them in front of us.”
After scoring 28 points against Washington on Tuesday, Trendon Hankerson was held to three points on 1-of-8 shooting. NIU’s three starting guards had 13 turnovers.
Johnson and Stewart combined for three steals, and as a team IU scored 26 points off the 23 turnovers.
Indiana started out strong on the defensive end on Tuesday but didn’t sustain the effort in the second half. On Friday Woodson was pleased with the complete performance, from the starters through to the bench.
“I just thought tonight it was a total team effort,” Woodson said. “I thought everybody that played tonight gave us effort and did exactly what we asked them to do, which was kind of nice to see.”
NIU made 12-of-23 three-pointers in their opener at Washington, but just 2-of-11 on Friday as Indiana successfully ran them off the arc.
“That was one of our main focuses was collectively covering up the 3-point line and getting out to their shooters,” Trey Galloway said. “I think we did a great job on that as a team.”
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Woodson, Galloway and Geronimo post-game
- Jackson-Davis and Thompson form a dynamic duo
Trayce Jackson-Davis (A) Jackson-Davis was threatening the single game blocks record when he recorded six before the break. He refused to allow any clean attempts at the rim, and had an efficient offensive night with 19 points in 26 minutes on 6-of-9 shooting.
Race Thompson (A-) Thompson had 10 rebounds for the second straight game and recorded a double-double. Thompson also made his first three-pointer of the season. He committed three turnovers on the night.
Miller Kopp (C+) Kopp has started his IU career in a shooting slump. He is now 0-for-4 from three on the young season.
Parker Stewart (C+) Stewart started for the second straight game but did not score and was 0-for-4 from three. He has missed eight in a row from three after making his first two of the season.
Xavier Johnson (A-) Johnson’s ability to get past his man with quickness is a game-changer for Indiana’s offense. He can create opportunities from nothing. If he can clean up the turnovers he can be one of the Big Ten’s best.
Tamar Bates (B) Bates still seems to be finding his way after missing practice and scrimmage time with an injury. If he can find a groove he’s the obvious answer to take minutes if the starters continue to miss threes.
Rob Phinisee (B) Phinisee does indeed appear to be playing with more confidence thus far as was advertised in the offseason. He has been more aggressive on both ends of the floor, giving IU a very good backup point guard.
Jordan Geronimo (B) This game was a step forward for Geronimo, who was more active, more aggressive and made his first three of the season. Like Bates he is a good defender, and there are minutes to be had if he can continue to make perimeter shots.
Trey Galloway (A-) Galloway also got into the mix with a three, but his real strength was as a facilitator (3 assists) and on the defensive end.
Michael Durr (B) Durr saw his first action in an Indiana uniform as he returned from a knee injury. The 7-footer was solid in ball screen coverage and made a nice post feed for an assist. As he gets back into shape he’ll need to be more aware of shot blockers and take better care of the ball.
Khristian Lander, Anthony Leal, and Logan Duncomb also made late appearances in the game.
The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”
- Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier
- You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
- Seven ways to support completely free IU coverage at no cost to you.