The good: Illinois’ 70 points were the second least the Illini have scored in a Big Ten game.
The bad: Indiana did not hit a single 3-pointer across 40 minutes of college basketball.
A lot was going on today. Anthony Walker got the start. Mackenzie Mgbako saw substantial time at power forward. The Hoosiers put not two, not three but FOUR guards on the floor all at once.
The defensive gameplan, aided by Indiana’s length, prioritized switching over Mike Woodson’s usual nail-slot-rim philosophy. To his credit, that worked wonders and was what kept them in it for all forty minutes.
But you aren’t going to win many basketball games when you’re outscored from the perimeter by 21 points. Illinois hit seven 3s. Indiana didn’t make even one attempt from deep during this game.
Did I mention that.
Of course, you can always mitigate that by getting your three points the old fashioned way: hurtling toward the rim or trying to draw contact. For that effort, the Hoosiers were given 22 attempts from the free-throw line.
They made 12.
This team ultimately has only one shot you feel good about and it is right at the rim and one ideally being taken by Malik Reneau. Anything else, including free throws, is a hope for the best case scenario.
Mackenzie Mgbako has made some impressive shots on the year and led Indiana in attempts from three... with three. Good looks just weren’t falling and that margin, if even slightly smaller, makes all the difference in this game.
It’s something this team just kind of has to live with. There’s no way to fix it now, all you can do is mitigate. Great defensive effort helps but a team like the Illini is going to come around on offense eventually.
And again, shooting 54.5% from the charity stripe is just not going to cut it. Indiana was given chances to make ups its deficit from deep and failed to capitalize.
Because of all of the above, Indiana has now gone 0-3 in a stretch during which it really needed a win to avoid staying in Bloomington when March rolls around. They’re still going to fight to win games, the season isn’t over, but there’s probably less to play for with all of this weighing them down.
Some things probably need to change based on today:
- Indiana needs to keep going with the smaller lineups regardless of matchup because clearly it helped out in more ways than one.
- In those lineups, Mgbako needs to spend more time at the four. Let him play both there and the three to work on everything he needs and provide an option for Malik to look to out of the double.
- Play Xavier Johnson off the ball next to Trey Galloway and/or Gabe Cupps to get him some catch and shoot opportunities.
- Get more shots for Mgbako. Run plays to get him open from deep and let him get the hot hand.