Indiana had to actually work to win its first two games – one in overtime against Actually Good Kansas, and one against a feisty UMass-Lowell team that didn’t go down until a bit before halftime. Liberty, on the other hand, took one punch and dropped like a sack of hammers. Here’s what we learned from IU’s comprehensive win this Saturday night.
The sophomores are extremely good
This is not exactly news, but it also hadn’t been totally evident in a game yet this year. Thomas Bryant played reasonably well, while maybe not living up to the standard he set in his first two games. But OG Anunoby had probably his most OG-ish game so far, racking up a double-double (though without a three-pointer, so there’s still somewhere to go). And Juwan Morgan got close, and for the second game in a row wins the “Wait, He Didn’t Get 20 and 15?” award – it’s pretty obvious that without a crocked shoulder, this dude is a very good player. This trio is clearly still working into their new, expanded responsibilities, but so far they’re handling it well and when the minutes increase against better teams, expect a little less experimentation and a bit more production.
Still a bit sloppy, but better
Too many turnovers, still – IU may be overly aggressive in light of inferior opposition, but honestly the offense needs to do a much better job consistently taking care of the ball. This is not new. But starting out on a 9-0 run, which became a 15-2 run, which ballooned into a thirty- and later forty-point lead, some of the (possible) jitters that led to a somewhat close first half against UMass-Lowell clearly weren’t there. Going into the game we were expecting somewhat competent opposition – Liberty played VCU close, after all – but despite some rough edges, this turned into a beatdown fast and stayed that way.
Indiana scored 100 points in the first two games, and that’s cool, but the Kansas game was (obviously) close, and UMass-Lowell scored 78 points. That’s not ideal! The defense showed up better against Liberty. The Flames missed a lot of shots on their own, but the execution and effort were pretty clearly better as well, and the Hoosiers held them under 50 points. No matter what month it is or how dumpster-firey the opponent’s KenPom ranking is, that’s a positive.