“Eventually, as we told the guys, we have to put together a full 40 on both ends of the floor,” Archie Miller said earlier this week after a win over Louisiana Tech.
With 24 straight games against high major competition coming, the Hoosiers have just one more chance to fine tune things and put together a complete performance.
As Miller’s brother and Arizona head coach Sean knows all too well, the South Dakota State Jackrabbits won’t be a pushover on Saturday afternoon.
“We have another opportunity on Saturday against South Dakota State who has been to a number of places already,” Miller said. “Watched them play Arizona a little bit last week. They were great in that game.”
SDSU jumped out to a 24-14 first half lead at Arizona before the Wildcats clawed back and pulled out a 71-64 win in Tucson.
The Jackrabbits have also played on the road at Southern California and Nebraska, and those two contests along with Arizona represent their three losses on the season.
IU will be challenged by junior forward Douglas Wilson, who leads the team in both scoring (17.8 ppg) and rebounds (7.8 rpg).
Wilson represents the kind of talented front court players that IU will start to see a lot more of beginning next week when the Hoosiers host Florida State as part of the Big Ten / ACC Challenge.
But Indiana’s players are not looking ahead.
“I mean, every game’s important, but this game, I’ll just take it like another game,” Hoosier redshirt sophomore forward Race Thompson said. “No different if it was Florida State tomorrow. I mean, it’s a big game, definitely.”
GAME DAY ESSENTIALS
South Dakota State (6-3) at Indiana (6-0)
- Tip time: 4 p.m. ET
- Location: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Bloomington, Indiana
- Television: BTN Plus (Subscription streaming service)
- Series: First meeting
- Point Spread: Indiana is around a 17.5 point favorite in Vegas; KenPom has No. 27 Indiana by 17 over No. 189 South Dakota State.
- Tickets (Seat Geek affiliate link)
HOOSIERS GETTING TO THE LINE
If it feels like Indiana has been shooting a ton of free throws, you are not mistaken.
In fact, IU is as good as it gets in both attempting and making free throws thus far on the 2019-20 season.
IU leads the nation in free throws made per game at 23.2 and free throws attempted at 30.8 per game.
The parade to the charity stripe has been an integral part of what has been a prolific offense through six games.
The Hoosiers are second in the nation in scoring (90.2) and are third in field goal percentage shooting 53.0% from the field. IU is also tied for the Big Ten lead in scoring margin at 24.3 points per game.
Ranked No. 269 in defensive efficiency according to KenPom, the Jackrabbits will have their hands full trying to contain IU in Bloomington.
Whether or not any of these numbers will translate when the schedule gets more difficult, however, remains to be seen.
EVERYBODY SEEING THE FLOOR SO FAR
An important aspect of Indiana’s early success on the offensive end has been a balanced attack.
Miller has said on multiple occasions that he has 11 scholarship players that can play, and the allocation of minutes bears that out.
“Playing a lot of guys,” Miller said after the Princeton game. “There’s a lot of sacrifice going on, a lot of inconsistency in the minutes being played. I think as our guys are realizing, the best that we can do is push each other every day and on game day be prepared and mentally ready and take advantage of it.”
No one is averaging more than 30 minutes per game, and the low man on the minutes totem pole among the scholarship 11, De’Ron Davis, is still averaging 9.2 minutes.
Miller has pointed to his depth in the front court as a key reason why this year’s team has been able to push the pace offensively.
Thompson agrees with that assessment, and he sees a fresher team in the game’s final minutes.
“I think that depth has a big part in being able to play the last four minutes of the game, which is the most important, says Coach Miller,” Thompson said. “So having that depth, we can have De’Ron in there, Joey in there, me in there. We can go super hard for short spurts of time, and at the end of the game, we’ll all be fresh and ready to go.”
Another interesting aspect of the more difficult schedule that’s on its way is how the starting lineup and substitution patterns might change. Will the rotation shrink?
With several viable alternatives on his roster that are “not far different in terms of the impact that they play,” it is going to come down to results on the floor for Miller.
“If you take advantage of your opportunities in the game, you’re going to find your opportunities are more. And if you’re not, then those opportunities will be a little bit less,” Miller said.
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