Indiana was able to grind its way to a 69-63 win on Tuesday night.
It was thanks in large part to a lineup Mike Woodson put in the game down by six with a bit over ten minutes to go in the second half. Indiana subbed in Xavier Johnson for C.J. Gunn for the following group:
The result? A 10-point run to reclaim the lead and close out the win at home... minus whatever on Earth that was against the press in the last two or so minutes.
Johnson, Cupps and Galloway kept the perimeter locked down, where all of FGCU’s points were coming from, and Reneau held his man in check as Ware lay waiting in the paint for yet another block
This kind of lineup, three guards with good passing ability and defensive potential, isn’t new to Indiana. Or at least it shouldn’t be.
For ye who thought Indiana “wAs A bEtTeR tEaM wItHoUt xAvIeR jOhNsOn” last year, you know not of ball. Negative ball knowledge if anything. Good thing we wrote about that too this offseason.
Indiana only got the Johnson-Hood-Schifino duo for less than a handful of games following the former’s injury in the nonconference slate against Kansas. A lineup of Johnson-JHS-Galloway-Thompson-TJD would’ve been a great counter to the types of teams Indiana had trouble with last season.
The Iowas, Penn States and Miamis of the world that were able to shoot over the Hoosiers’ heads would’ve had to face three good on-ball defenders with a pair of California redwoods in the paint. Drive on them if ye dare.
That lineup would’ve been excellent last year and great this year, but unfortunately one of those guys was so good at basketball that he is now a Los Angeles Laker. Enter, in his stead, the freshman Cupps.
Cupps has been praised for his basketball IQ and defensive presence long before his arrival on campus. Pair him with two experienced guards like Johnson and Galloway, both fantastic in pressure on the ball, and you have a promising defensive trio against teams that fire at will from the arc.
If you get past those guys you’re dealing with Ware, who had been waiting that entire time to send your shot to Greenwood. Not an ideal situation to be in.
It’s a lineup to keep in mind, especially as Cupps keeps getting better, as the season goes on.