Indiana men’s basketball went through another rather uncomfortable win in a buy game at Assembly Hall on Thursday night. This round’s group of dudes to turn into the Golden State Warriors? Wright State.
This one was circled as a trap game the second the Hoosiers finished up their first close win over. And, well, it was in fact close.
Gonna do three things below as usual, but adding a tidbit here: Xavier Johnson went down holding his leg toward the end of the game and walked off under his own power. He went to the bench and walked through the handshake line with teammates.
Mike Woodson said he didn’t know about Johnson’s status after the game and would only have more information tomorrow. We’ll have to wait to here back on that.
Now, without further ado, here’s Three Things
Mackenzie Mgbako (the good and the bad)
Hey! 13 points! Five rebounds! Scoring in transition! Shooting the basketball! All good things you wanna see from him!but
Also four fouls. Leaving his man open on the perimeter. Not the things you want to see.
Yeah, Mgbako had an up and down game. Doer of things both good and bad. For every point scored or board pulled in, there was sagging off and overhelping on the interior and allowing his assignment, typically Andrew Welage (guess where he’s from), to fire away from the arc.
The bright side here is that these are issues that can be fixed with coaching. He’s a freshman starting his third ever college game that counts and is playing with a good amount of visible effort.
Woodson got on him multiple times throughout the night. The fact of the matter is Indiana is going to need him if it wants to get anywhere even remotely close to its ceiling this season. He’s just too talented and valuable as a scorer.
Some things take time. And only time will tell if that’s in fact the case here.
Indiana had a clear option against a smaller team like Wright State: throw it in to Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau so they can cook.
And cook each did. Ware finished with 22 points on 9-11 from the field and 12 rebounds, his second career double-double in the cream and crimson. Reneau scored 16 with eight boards while dishing out five assists.
Some of those were to Ware. The two have grown closer on and off the court since the former’s arrival in Bloomington. They’re calling it “buddy ball.”
“It’s just realizing what the defense is giving us,” Reneau said. “Looking back I see Kel’el running. So I knew, my first instinct in my head was “I’m not saying this ball up, this is going up top and making a highlight play.”
It’s the third straight year that Mike Woodson has started two dudes who do most of their scoring in the post. Though unlike Trayce Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson before them, Ware and Reneau can shoot the ball from the arc.
We’ll see how it works in Big Ten play, where “big” is quite literally the name of the game. For now, it’s enough for 3-0.
The team was looking fantastic early and raced out to a substantial early lead. Everyone was getting set on defense, they were pushing the ball down the court, Mgbako hit that great three and ohnotheyreleavingdudesopenagain.
Indiana stretched that lead to 30-16 before the Raiders remembered what I can only assume was The Game Plan and started taking, and making, shots from deep. All of a sudden that lead was gone and Woodson was looking rather unhappy about it heading into halftime.
Blame it on what you want. Lack of effort, unnecessary lineup changes or whatever. Point is, it happened.
Wright State, believe it or not, went back to the 3-point line in the second half and made a game of it for pretty much the rest of the way. A few misses and late buckets and free throws from Ware and Mgbako put this one away in the end.
Indiana showed some progress tonight. It’s going to need quite a bit more and soon if it wants a winning season.