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Indiana men’s basketball beats Elon 96-72: The kids are alright

Lots of underclassmen saw significant minutes tonight, let’s talk about that.

NCAA Basketball: Elon University at Indiana Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

This was always gonna be a weird one.

Game against a team with the same name as one of the richest guys in the world who loves to trend on the website he owns? Well, there’s the bit. Indiana men’s basketball coming off of some less than ideal losses to former No. 1-seeds? There’s the narrative.

Every year has its matchup against teams you’ll probably only think about once or twice in your life, but this was different from the Morehead States of the world. The Hoosiers had the wind in their sales then and heading into tonight they most certainly did not.

This wasn’t gonna be a game that Mike Woodson was trying to win by fifty or with the Hoosiers actively trying to get whoever to a triple-double. This was more about testing lineups, getting Jalen Hood-Schifino into a groove and seeing what’s going on a bit further down the depth chart.

Hood-Schifino more or less has sole control over Indiana’s offense with Xavier Johnson’s absence in mind, and put up an admirable 17 points while dishing out seven assists. The latter number likely would’ve been higher had Trayce Jackson-Davis been healthy. He flashed some of the talent we heard so much about over the summer with a few behind the back passes and ball movement to score in the paint.

Woodson’s emphasis on digging into the depth chart became obvious when C.J. Gunn was subbed into the game just over halfway into the first half. It initially felt that way when Logan Duncomb checked in, but we later learned that Jordan Geronimo is dealing with a dislocated finger, so he was pretty much the sole relief option for Malik Reneau.

Duncomb had himself a night, using his size to outreach Elon in the paint while hitting a 5-6 clip for 10 points and hauling in five rebounds to boot. Woodson said postgame that he’s still working through health issues, so that’s worth keeping an eye on.

But back to Gunn, who put on a show. Between some key moments on defense, made threes and highlight reel dunks, Gunn flashed his future potential throughout the night. It’d be great if Indiana could get that kind of production this season, but I’m not trying to count chickens before they hatch.

This was Elon after all. Gunn is less likely to dunk on whatever it is that Greg Gard is doing in Madison this year, but he showed he can do it.

Then there was Tamar Bates, who made literally every shot he attempted including two from three. That’s something we’re much more likely to see against Big Ten opposition this year, with Indiana looking to Bates, Kopp and perhaps Hood-Schifino while Trayce Jackson-Davis draws attention on the interior.

Finally, Kaleb Banks saw some valuable minutes as well, scoring eight points on 3-4 shooting with two free throws.

The only question mark continues to be Malik Reneau, a former 5-star who hasn’t quite put it together just yet. Reneau, starting both halves, put up eight points in 15 minutes with three fouls. He hit just four of his ten field goal attempts and committed three turnovers.

When Mike Woodson sat down with Don Fischer immediately following the game, the very first thing he said was that he’s gotta figure Reneau out.

Well, it’s December and he’s a freshman. He’d definitely provide some good depth for Indiana’s bigs, but I’m personally not too worried about it. Between Trey Galloway, Tamar Bates and arguably Xavier Johnson, Woodson is developing a track record for players improving over time. Tons of time for him to work on that puzzle.

So I don’t care too much that Indiana allowed 72 points to Elon tonight. The Hoosiers are trying to figure it out, not bury an inferior opponent.