Indiana got the national stage it wanted and promptly got run off the floor. Twice.
Here’s three things:
Indiana’s starting point guard went down with an apparent ankle injury in the first half before eventually returning to the bench in a boot. He ended up leaving Allen Fieldhouse on crutches.
So just when Indiana got Jalen Hood-Schifino back on the court, it loses Johnson. Not great!
There is no NCAA Tournament bid last year without Johnson, he’s respected throughout the league as one of the top guards in the conference. Now a lot more will fall on the shoulders of Hood-Schifino, though he’ll have favorable matchups against Elon and Kennesaw State to get a feel for running the offense on his own.
After Hood-Schifino? Well... Trey Galloway has acted as Indiana’s point guard a bit? That’s not a great option because he’d take Johnson’s spot in the starting lineup.
They gave Tamar Bates some run at that? The second unit looked promising (early on) largely because it had Schifino running the show. Now that’s probably Bates and that isn’t really the ideal role for him, especially not now.
Indiana needed more from Trayce Jackson-Davis
Trayce Jackson-Davis entered this season as a candidate for National Player of the Year awards because of course he did.
He’s one of the best bigs in the country and raises the ceiling of this team with his ability to score in the paint. Sometimes he’s lived up to that billing, like he did with a triple double against Nebraska. Then he’ll have a game like he did today and it’s just a head scratcher.
Jackson-Davis will always be a key part of every game, but this was supposed to be one where he took control. He’s not gonna be the biggest guy on the floor in Big Ten play, but today he was and Indiana just failed to capitalize on that.
His night ended with 13 points, five of which came at the free throw line. That’s unacceptable for a player of his caliber in a favorable matchup, even if he’s doubled.
It’s not like Indiana found a way to take advantage of those double teams either, shooting a 6-19 clip from three around him. That’s just not enough to keep Kansas away from him in the paint.
These non-conference matchups should serve as a reality check for the entire team, but Jackson-Davis most of all. Indiana needs to find ways for him to score, or get the ball to someone who can, immediately because that’s the blueprint.
Slow starts are killing this team
Indiana’s matchups with Arizona and Kansas both began with the Hoosiers immediately digging themselves into a hole. Kansas scored seven points before Indiana managed even one today.
They just haven’t looked ready to play on either end and Indiana isn’t exactly equipped to dig itself out of a hole without reliable shooting from the perimeter or consistent defense.
Mind you, it’s happening against teams Indiana won’t see again unless it manages a run in March, but it’s still happening.
Indiana has to use its next two games to get it fixed because the next big matchup, Iowa, is one of the few Big Ten teams that’s both willing and capable of dropping a ton of points on the Hoosiers’ heads before they wake up.