It was all gas, no brakes, and barely any breaks, for the six scholarship players and one walk-on who played in Indiana’s 59-51 loss to Northwestern on Tuesday night.
News broke before the game that Tamar Bates, Xavier Johnson, Khristian Lander, Michael Durr, and Parker Stewart would be held out of the game due to disciplinary reasons. Rob Phinisee also missed his third-straight game due to a plantar fasciitis related injury.
As a result, all five starters tonight had to play 30-plus minutes to keep Indiana in the game. Head coach Mike Woodson only summoned two players from the bench. One was Jordan Geronimo, who saw 17 minutes of action but picked up four fouls. The other was walk-on Nate Childress, who saw three minutes of playing time.
Still, the shorthanded Hoosiers managed to be competitive and stay in the game. Both teams traded blows before the Wildcats slowly pulled away with the win.
“I couldn’t be happier for our group of guys (who played). You know, based on what we had to go through today,” Woodson told Don Fischer.
“They came out and they fought and played their butts off, and we just didn’t have enough coming down the stretch.”
Trey Galloway and Anthony Leal were inserted into the starting lineup in place of the suspended Stewart and Johnson. Galloway took over the point guard duties and thrived in his new role, minus some ill-advised turnovers.
The Culver, Ind. product utilized screens to get into the lane for his patented floater. He was able to score multiple times with the move. He matched his career-high with 13 points to go with five rebounds and three assists. But he did have five turnovers.
Galloway played for 37 minutes before fouling out. If it weren’t for foul trouble, he would’ve had to play the whole game.
“Well, he played well, and he didn’t have a sub I couldn’t get him out. And you know, I’m just I’m happy the way he played, and you know, it’s something that he can grow on,” Woodson said of Galloway.
The Hoosiers went into halftime with a four-point lead. However, fatigue predictably played a factor in the second half. In return, the fresh Wildcats went on a 16-4 run, which included a technical foul call on assistant coach Kenya Hunter.
Offensively, Indiana could not figure anything out. During that run, the Hoosiers had a five-minute scoring drought. They attempted to play through their stars in the post but it was rather ineffective.
Trayce Jackson-Davis had the 31st double-double of his career with 13 points, 11 rebounds, and added three blocks and a steal. But, he was rather inefficient. He shot 4-of-13 from the field and 5-of-9 from the charity stripe.
In the second half, the Hoosiers were held to just 21 points on 8-of-25 shooting from the field and 1-for-8 from deep.
“Well, they did what they had to do,” Woodson said of the Northwestern defense. “You know, I mean, but we had good shots on the perimeter which we just didn’t make. and Trayce (Jackson-Davis) had some looks, you know down low, as well that he didn’t make as well. So I mean, it’s a game of inches when you’re trying to win basketball games.”
In this game, many players had to adapt and do what was asked of them by their coach. Galloway played point guard, but Geronimo also filled in as a wing. At multiple points, Woodson threw out a lineup that consisted of all three big men, Galloway, and either Leal or Miller Kopp.
“Well, it is a learning experience,” said Woodson.
“Especially when you’re short and you know, we got to do all the necessary thing, both ends of the floor, you know, to win games, and the fact that we were short in it you know, I still thought that would play well.”
Woodson said he “doesn’t know” how long the suspensions will be. He will get back to Bloomington and regroup before making a decision.
The timing of the suspensions is during a crucial stretch in the Hoosiers schedule. They play two out of their next three games on the road. Those three games are all against ranked opponents. They face No. 17 Michigan State, No. 14 Wisconsin, and No. 16 Ohio State.
Despite the terrible timing, coach Woodson knew that this decision was needed to set a precedent for the program.
“I’m looking at it as doing the right thing for our university and our team. When you talk about building a team, I’m building a culture here. I’m not here to mess around with guys that don’t want to do what’s asked of them. And if they don’t, then they gotta go.”
“I’m going to bring players in here that want to be proud, and wear that uniform proudly. That’s what it’s all about. Doing the necessary things on and off the court. It’s not hard to do that.”
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