No. 13 Indiana men’s basketball took care of business on Monday.
The Hoosiers ran away with an 88-53 win over Morehead State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Once IU got control of the game, the win was never really in doubt. All 13 scholarship players saw the court, and 12 of them scored points.
Here are three takeaways from the season-opening victory.
Some good, some bad
This performance by Indiana is about what you’d expect from a good team in a season opener.
The Hoosiers, on the whole of the night, played well. There were some positive moments, especially in the second half. They got good production out of the bench, and Trayce Jackson-Davis doesn’t look particularly limited by his injured hand. IU’s defense locked in and protected the 3-point line effectively, something the team focused on after halftime.
But there were several stretches of sloppy play. Xavier Johnson got in first-half foul trouble, and had two turnovers in less than a minute in the second half. Race Thompson and Miller Kopp, among some others, had some trouble making an impact during a few periods. IU went cold for a couple spells in the first half that allowed Morehead State to hang around early.
It’s not necessarily anything to be concerned about in the big picture. Things like that happen early in the season, and there is obviously plenty of time to smooth things out. And there was more positive than negative.
It certainly wasn’t a perfect performance, but IU got the job done.
Jordan Geronimo looks like an X-factor
The junior isn’t the first guy off the bench for the Hoosiers, and he wasn’t even second on Monday. But on this team with so many potential difference-makers, Geronimo could be one of its biggest X-factors.
At 6-foot-6 and 225 pounds, Geronimo is just a physical specimen. His length is so obvious, as he uses it to his advantage. And that’s on both ends. He can get up around the rim as well as anyone on IU’s roster, and his big wingspan is a huge asset on defense. Geronimo might be the best defender on the team.
He displayed all of that against Morehead State. He joined Jackson-Davis and Malik Reneau as IU’s double-digit scorers. Some of those points came from dunks, but he hit a few mid-range shots as well. That’s something he’s worked to improve at, and an element that could make him a really dangerous player if he can consistently knock them down.
There’s a lot of OG Anunoby in Geronimo’s game. Anunoby had the same type of build when he was at IU, and the same potential. He never fully reached it in Bloomington, as he left for the NBA after his injury-shortened sophomore season. But there are certainly worse players for Geronimo to resemble.
There are just so many moments when Geronimo’s on the floor where he feels like the most gifted player out there, whether in talent or build. He’s a big reason why Indiana’s second unit looked so strong Monday.
If Geronimo can consistently impact games like that, it could only be a matter of time before he’s playing a bigger role. There’s a lot of competition for playing time on this IU squad, but Geronimo has the feel of a player who could potentially take Indiana from good to great.
IU’s shooting splits show room for improvement
Head coach Mike Woodson said it himself after the game — Indiana is a team that plays inside-out, and that’s not some state secret. It was very much on display Monday.
IU shot pretty efficiently from the field, overall, at 61 percent. Reneau was especially strong at 6 for 8.
But the Hoosiers shot just 4 for 11 from 3-point range. They only attempted four threes in the first half. That’s extremely low volume — to the point of maybe being problematic down the road. I wouldn’t expect that low of a volume in most games.
Shooting 36 percent on threes, even at a higher volume, is an improvement for IU. 3-point shooting has been the team’s biggest weakness for several years now — IU shot 33.3 percent from beyond the arc last year, ranking No. 197 in the nation. Though the jump to 36 seems small, that would get you in the top 55 3-point teams in the country last year.
It will just be hard to win games against tougher, more polished opponents with such a low 3-point volume.
And free-throw shooting, yet again, was a problem. Indiana went 12 for 21 at the line. While the outside shooting was a bit of an issue, the free throw misses were a clear red flag. Reneau and Jalen Hood-Schifino had solid collegiate debuts, but the freshmen struggled hard at the foul line. Reneau went 3 for 6, and Hood-Schifino went 1 for 4.
Missing that many free throws would surely cost Indiana a game at some point. There’s no way around it. IU has to improve at the charity stripe to succeed this year.