Indiana was back in action Sunday for another tune up game, this time on a neutral court against Miami Ohio. The Hoosiers were expected to win big and took care of business yesterday, beating the RedHawks by a comfortable 30 point margin.
Miami actually was able to keep it close for about the first 12 minutes of the game before Indiana ended the first half on a 22-6 run to really take control. Mike Woodson was able to give some extended minutes to some of the guys further down on the bench as Indiana maintained its comfortable lead through the second half.
At 4-0, Indiana could see a modest bump in this week’s AP rankings ahead of its matchup with North Carolina November 30. Indiana has two games until then with Little Rock and Jackson State coming to town, but should win those handily barring catastrophe. And this team seems better at avoiding catastrophe than any Indiana team has been in a long time.
Here’s Three Things:
Trayce Jackson-Davis led the way for Indiana with 17 points in his brief 24 minutes, but for the second time this season, three other Hoosiers also finished with 10 or more points yesterday against the RedHawks. Jalen Hood-Schifino had a new career high with 12 points, while Malik Reneau and Miller Kopp each finished with 10.
Indiana was without Trey Galloway, but Tamar Bates and C.J. Gunn both stepped up and took advantage of their offensive minutes, scoring seven and five respectively. Kaleb Banks even added six from the bench in just six minutes of action, including a corner three on an assist from Gunn.
The most impressive thing to me about the scoring distribution is that nobody outside of Trayce and Reneau was shooting particularly well. Hood-Schifino went five of 12 from the field, Bates and Gunn were a combined four of 13, while Race Thompson and Xavier Johnson combined for four of ten.
Obviously I would like to see them fall at a more consistent rate, but it’s good to see how many of these guys are playing with the green light from Mike Woodson and enough confidence to be putting these shots up.
In past years, defenses were able to really shut down Indiana’s offense on bad shooting nights like those by keying in on the one or two players, usually Trayce and somebody else, who Indiana relied on most for its buckets. This year, it looks like the Hoosiers simply have more threats from more parts of the floor and will not be as liable to go on those dreaded scoring droughts we all know and loathe.
Three Point Shooting
Though it’s only been four games, we’re definitely seeing some patterns emerge as to how Indiana plans on addressing the need for outside shooting. And it’s a little bit...confusing?
What’s not surprising is that Miller Kopp is leading the way in both attempts (17) and makes (9), which likely means he will continue to see significant minutes in some capacity. He’s also looked better at using the pump fake to get inside on defenders who over commit to his shooting ability, but it’s not really clear that Indiana needs more inside scoring from him at this point.
For some reason, Race Thompson is tied for second on the team with ten three-point attempts, tied with guards Jalen Hood-Schifino and Tamar Bates. Bates and Hood-Schifino have each hit a respectable 30% of theirs, but Thompson has only seen one of his ten attempts fall so far this year.
Meanwhile, Trey Galloway, who is shooting 50% from deep, and Xavier Johnson, who is shooting 100% from three, have combined for just seven attempts this year. Both Malik Reneau and Jordan Geronimo have more three-point attempts than Johnson this year.
Part of the “issue” for Johnson isn’t really a problem, per se; he’s been basically able to get to the basket at will every game so far, where he can then feed or finish at the rim. Galloway, on the other hand, doesn’t really see the ball all that often. He’s last on the team in percentage of possessions used, per Kenpom.
At this point in the year, I don’t really have too much of a problem with anyone having a green light. Race being able to stretch the floor would ultimately help Indiana, so I think it’s okay if he chucks a couple in these 30-point victories to see if he can find a shot this season.
What I’d really like to see is more attempts from guys like Johnson, Galloway, Geronimo, and even Reneau. It’s not an immediate need in the next two games when Indiana should hopefully be able to score at ease, but will pay dividends throughout the year if somebody other than Kopp can stay around the 30-35% range with a significant number of attempts per game.
He’s having the kind of season that makes continuing to write about him both impossible and completely necessary. He’s been absolutely dominant on both ends of the floor and is the clear leader for the best team that Indiana’s had in years, so he’s already a top story waiting to happen. You just start to run out of ways to describe how good he’s been.
What’s stood out most to me has been Trayce’s efficiency and creativity around the basket this year. He’s hit 75.6% of his team-high 45 field goal attempts, including nine dunks already this year.
He also leads Indiana with a whopping 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, which alongside Race and Reneau has given Indiana a huge advantage inside on both ends of the floor. Jackson-Davis’ game-high 16 rebounds in 24 minutes yesterday was more than double the next best individual performance, as Miami’s Julian Lewis finished with seven rebounds in 32 minutes.
Most importantly, it’s clear that Trayce is on a mission to cement his individual legacy both statistically and by taking this Indiana team as far as he possibly can this season.