IU had little trouble with its latest mid-major foe on Wednesday evening in Bloomington, cruising to a 79-61 win over Northern Kentucky.
The Hoosiers ran out to a 32-8 lead with 2:28 left in the first half, and extended their advantage to as much as 28 in the second half before letting up on the defensive end down the stretch.
Let’s take a look back at the details of what went right and wrong with another edition of The Report Card.
Indiana (10-2, 1-1) will host UNC Asheville next Wednesday evening at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington.
On paper this looked like a game Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson could dominate, and they certainly did. The pair combined for half of Indiana’s field goals and 35 of their 79 points.
Perhaps most impressive, the duo worked well together against the NKU zone and combined for five assists.
“They know each other’s movement inside, and they read each other really well, which is great. I always talk about “buddy ball” with our bigs, and you know, they are really good buddies when it comes to playing buddy ball, especially inside the zone,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said.
The Norse have a reputation for turning teams over with their zone as well as at times full court pressure although they didn’t show the latter much. IU only had five first half turnovers and while their ball security slipped some in the second half, they committed only 13 turnovers against 20 assists on the night.
Woodson cited poor post-passes as a major factor for the second half turnovers. But Indiana for the most part was effective getting the ball inside and using their size advantage to dominate. They scored 48 points in the paint.
IU shot 5-of-15 from three, their 11th straight game above 31 percent. They’ve avoided major shooting droughts and did it in this one without their best shooter, Parker Stewart, in the first half.
Indiana’s 1.19 points per possession were their second most in a game this season (Merrimack).
What a difference a half makes.
After holding NKU to just 14 points on 15.6 percent shooting before the break, the Norse exploded for 47 percent on 59.3 percent in the second half.
We’ll mostly give the benefit of the doubt here as the first half defense set the tone and is probably a better indicator of reality than the second, when the Hoosiers appeared to let up.
But Woodson let his team know they will lose a lot of games in league play if they continue to play so inconsistently.
“It wasn’t pretty, I’ll tell you that,” Woodson said. “I thought defensively we did everything right the first half in terms of our coverages, our switches. We were up touching guys. Nobody we’re getting — pulling up with dare shots, and it was totally the opposite the second half.
“You know, I made that known before we broke huddle tonight that that can’t happen. You won’t win a lot of games in the Big Ten doing that.”
The good news for IU was that their elite first half defense gave them a margin they couldn’t blow. Northern Kentucky missed 14-straight shot attempts over a 10-minute span in which IU went on a 15-0 scoring run as they pulled away in the first half. With Anthony Leal in for Parker Stewart, IU was better guarding the ball.
But 22 second half points by Trevon Faulkner helped NKU trim a 28 point lead to 15 and forced Woodson to bring the starters back in late in the game. In large part Faulkner just got hot and made contested shots.
In total the numbers say it was a reasonably effective night. IU held NKU 10 points under their season average, and limited them to 35.6 percent shooting.
But the .919 points per possession allowed were the second most to a non-high-major foe this year (Marshall). The splits were .452 per possession in the first half, and 1.424 in the second. You won’t see many wider margins than that.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score, keys to the game and specialty stats
- Woodson, Leal and Jackson-Davis post-game
- Efficient Race Thompson continues to deliver for IU
Trayce Jackson-Davis (A) Other than perhaps not a great rebounding night, it was a nearly flawless game for Jackson-Davis. NKU came in planning to double him, but they were often too late, too slow, or too small, and when they did arrive Jackson-Davis showed that he is an improving passer.
Race Thompson (A) Similar to Jackson-Davis, it is hard to take issue with the way Thompson played beyond rebounding. He seemed to be explosive off the floor in the paint, and has now made 17-of-19 shots over the last three games. Thompson, like Jackson-Davis, did not commit a turnover.
Miller Kopp (C+) He didn’t shoot the ball well and overall had a quiet night, but Kopp made some good passes into the zone.
Parker Stewart (C+) A starter the first 11 games, Stewart was the mystery man in this one as he didn’t play until the second half. He continued to improve his season 3-point rate, but Stewart fouled excessively on defense and coughed it up once in just eight minutes.
Xavier Johnson (A-) Steady minutes from Johnson, who had just one foul and turnover against two steals and five assists along with a 3-of-6 shooting day in 28 minutes. Best of all, Johnson didn’t force anything.
Jordan Geronimo (B) Showed some craftiness in the paint, hit a confident looking late shot clock three, and had another strong rebounding effort. But Geronimo also had three turnovers in 14 minutes.
Michael Durr (B-) Six points in nine minutes is good production including a 4-for-4 night at the stripe. Durr has an issue with putting the ball on the floor in congested areas, something that will cost him against better teams.
Rob Phinisee (B) The senior guard’s play was encouraging for the second straight game as he exploded with seven points in his first few minutes off the bench and overall put together a solid performance with ten. It was his first back-to-back multi-3-pointer games since January. He did have two turnovers and no assists, however.
Anthony Leal (B) First career start at IU for the Bloomington native. Leal’s five assists and four rebounds were both new single-game career highs. After starting the season hot from three, Leal has made just one of his last eight from long range.
Tamar Bates (C+) Although he wasn’t impactful in any significant way, Bates’ lone bucket, a mid-range shot that he cleverly set up by being physical with his defender, is a sign of what’s to come.
Khristian Lander (D) He simply has to take better advantage of opportunities. Instead Lander continued his habit of making mistakes early in his minutes with both a poor close-out and post-entry pass.
Logan Duncomb also appeared in the game. Trey Galloway was out with a wrist injury.
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