BLOOMINGTON, IN - JANUARY 26, 2022 - guard Xavier Johnson #0 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the game between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IN. Photo By Gracie Farrall/Indiana Athletics

Xavier Johnson emerging but IU suddenly has depth issue after Rob Phinisee injury

Mike Woodson says his theme all season has been next man up.

But at point guard, it isn’t clear right now who that next man is.

Back-up point guard Rob Phinisee suffered a first half lower leg injury against Penn State on Wednesday and had to be helped off the court.

Woodson didn’t have any details on the nature of Phinisee’s injury.

“Don’t know right now,” Woodson said.  “He’s got to be evaluated probably sometime tomorrow.”

Phinisee never returned to the Indiana bench after heading into the northeast tunnel towards the team’s locker room.

With the senior point guard unavailable, an opportunity was ostensibly created for sophomore Khristian Lander, but he never entered the game in the second half.

Lander has missed a couple games lately due to a lower leg injury, and although he was in uniform against Penn State, Woodson said he wasn’t available either.

“Somehow we’ve got to get Khristian ready because he’s not able to play either,” Woodson said.  “That’s why he didn’t play tonight.  We’ve got to get one of them back.  I don’t know when.”

Woodson was pressed for more detail on Lander, who went through all the warm-ups with the team before the game and at halftime.

“It’s strictly physical that’s holding him back,” Woodson said of Lander.  “He would have played tonight if I could have stuck him in there when Rob went down, but he can’t play.”

Meanwhile starting point guard Xavier Johnson is playing his best basketball of the season.

Over the last three games including the win over Penn State, Johnson is averaging 17 points, 5.3 assists against 1.7 turnovers, and 4.7 rebounds while shooting 47.5 percent from the field and 5-of-9 from 3-point range.

“I just think the game is starting to slow down a little bit for him,” Woodson said of Johnson.  “The Big Ten is a little bit different than the league he came out of. … The Big Ten really forces you to think about what you’re doing, especially at the point guard spot, and I think he is starting to slow down and see things ahead of him, and he’s making guys a little bit better around him, which is kind of nice to see.”

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