For the first time in the Mike Woodson era, Indiana has beaten a ranked opponent, taking down No. 13 Ohio State 67-51. With eight minutes to play, Indiana led by just four points and it looked like we were going to be in for another tight game down the stretch - a scary prospect considering how this team has struggled to close things out in those situations. Instead, Indiana closed the game on a 19-6 run and earned what is so far, their best NCAA tournament resume win. Here’s three things we learned from that game:
Trey Galloway is a huge boost for this team
Xavier Johnson and Rob Phinisee combined for four points and three assists tonight, so the back court is still a bit of a weak point for this group, but getting Trey Galloway back from his wrist injury looked like exactly what the offense had been lacking at points this season. He finished with eight points, four assists, three boards, and two steals, both of which he turned into transition layups.
Besides looking good on the stat sheet, Galloway refused to let the offense stagnate. When he wasn’t on the floor, there were a few times when everyone kind of stood around and waited for Trayce to make something happen. Whether he’s driving from the wing, pushing for a fast-break, or finding somebody (usually Trayce) inside with a pass, Galloway does not let the offense stall. It seems like he’s sprinting the entire time he’s on the court, on offense and defense, on and off ball. His energy clearly rubs off on his teammates, and I imagine he will be a crowd favorite when the students return to campus.
Mike Woodson is willing to make adjustments
One of the worst things about the Archie era was the feeling that you knew how every game would end, partially because he refused to make any changes with his rotations or offensive philosophy. After the last game, I pointed out that Woodson really only played six players for any significant amount of time, which didn’t bode well for a team that was supposed to have been deeper than its predecessors. Tonight, nine players saw at least ten minutes, including Jordan Geronimo and Trey Galloway.
Aside from the lineups, there were a few more wrinkles in the offense that we didn’t see much of last game, like some handoffs and drives with wings instead of leaning pick and roll with Trayce. It definitely helped that Trayce had one of his most impressive games of the season (my god, Holtmann leaving Joey Brunk on Trayce Jackson-Davis for so long was almost cruel), but it was nice to see that Woodson is willing to try something different and learn from a loss so we won’t have to worry about things spiraling too much if they lose another ugly one like Penn State.
Another bad shooting night
A minor gripe in an otherwise exciting game, but Indiana hit just 13.3% of their three point attempts tonight. If Galloway can continue to play well from the wing, the offense may not need to rely on it as much. On the other hand, Parker Stewart looks like he could be a bit of a defensive liability when Indiana plays the more athletic teams in the Big Ten, so it’s not clear who else can step up to hit threes when Indiana will eventually need them.
Maybe Leal will see more minutes like he did in the Wisconsin game if the matchup demands it, but he hasn’t lived up the the reputation of a shooter that he was recruited to be. I personally would like to see him at least get the chance to shoot his way into a rhythm, because he seems like the best candidate to fill that role out of Phinisee, Galloway, and Johnson. Miller Kopp finding his shot again would be great, since he went 0 of 3 tonight from deep.
Shooting didn’t matter much tonight though, so there’s time to figure things out as long as they continue to defend at a high level and move the ball on offense the way they did tonight.
Bonus: TJD is a treat
With 27 points, 12 rebounds, and five blocks, Trayce Jackson-Davis reminded everyone that he is one of the best players in the country tonight. Watching him play the way he did tonight is just such a treat, and we’re all lucky that Woodson convinced him to stay in college for one more season. Appreciate him while you can.