Indiana was back in action for another voting game Sunday, this time at a neutral ground against Miami, Ohio. The Hoosiers were expected to win big and closed the deal yesterday by beating the RedHawks by a comfortable 30 points.
Miami actually managed to keep it tight for the first 12 minutes of the game before Indiana ended the first half with a 22-6 run to truly take control. Mike Woodson was able to give some of the guys down the bench some extra minutes while Indiana maintained their comfortable second-half lead.
At 4-0, Indiana could see a slight uptick in this week’s AP rankings ahead of their Nov. 30 matchup against North Carolina. Indiana has two games by then, with Little Rock and Jackson State coming to town, but should win those without a disaster. And this team appears to be better at avoiding disaster than any Indiana team has been in a long time.
Here are three things:
Trayce Jackson-Davis led Indiana with 17 points in his short 24 minutes, but for the second time this season three other Hoosiers also finished with 10 or more points against the RedHawks yesterday. Jalen Hood-Schifino had a new career high with 12 points, while Malik Reneau and Miller Kopp finished with 10 points each.
Indiana was without Trey Galloway, but Tamar Bates and CJ Gunn both improved and capitalized on their offensive minutes, scoring seven and five goals respectively. Kaleb Banks even added six off the bench in just six minutes, including a corner three from a Gunn assist.
For me, the most impressive thing about the point distribution is that apart from Trayce and Reneau, nobody shot particularly well. Hood-Schifino left the field with five of 12, Bates and Gunn were combined for four of 13, while Race Thompson and Xavier Johnson combined for four of 10.
Of course I’d like to see them drop at a more consistent rate, but it’s good to see a lot of these guys playing with the Mike Woodson green light and having enough confidence to hit those shots.
In years past, defense could really knock out Indiana’s offense on bad shooting nights like this by turning on a player or two, usually Trayce and someone else Indiana had relied on most for their buckets. This year, it looks like the Hoosiers will simply have more threats from more parts of the ground and won’t be as vulnerable to those dreaded droughts we all know and loathe.
Although it’s only been four games, we’re definitely seeing some patterns in how Indiana plans to address the need for outside shots. And it’s a bit… confusing?
What’s not surprising is that Miller Kopp leads in both tries (17) and goals (9), meaning he’ll likely continue to see significant minutes in some fashion. He’s also looked better at using the pump fake to hit defenders who get too involved with his shooting skills, but it’s not really clear that Indiana needs more inside scoring from him at this point.
For some reason, Race Thompson ranks second on the team with ten three-point attempts, tied on points with guards Jalen Hood-Schifino and Tamar Bates. Bates and Hood-Schifino have each scored a respectable 30% of their hits, but Thompson has only seen one of his 10 tries fall so far this year.
Meanwhile, Trey Galloway, who shoots 50% from deep, and Xavier Johnson, who shoots 100% from three, have only completed seven attempts combined this year. Both Malik Reneau and Jordan Geronimo have more three-point attempts than Johnson this year.
Part of the “problem” isn’t really a problem for Johnson per se; Basically, in every game so far he has been able to get to the basket at will, where he can then feed or finish on the edge. Galloway, on the other hand, doesn’t see the ball that often. According to Kenpom, he is last on the team in percentage of possessions used.
At this point in the year, I don’t have too much of a problem with anyone getting the green light. Racing, being able to stretch the ground would ultimately help Indiana, so I think it’s okay if he throws a few into those 30-point wins to see if he does this season finds a chance.
What I’d really like to see are more attempts from guys like Johnson, Galloway, Geronimo, and even Reneau. It’s not essential in the next two games when Indiana hopefully can score easily, but it will pay off all year if anyone other than Kopp can stay in the 30-35% range with a significant number of tries per game .
He’s having the kind of season that makes it impossible and absolutely necessary to continue writing about him. He’s been absolutely dominant on both ends of the floor and is the clear leader for the best team Indiana has had in years, so he’s already a top story waiting to happen. You’re just running out of ways to describe how good he was.
What struck me the most was Trayce’s efficiency and creativity around the basket this year. He has scored 75.6% of his team-best 45 field goal attempts, including nine dunks so far this year.
He also leads Indiana with a whopping 8.8 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game, which has given Indiana a huge advantage at both ends of the parquet alongside Race and Reneau. Jackson-Davis’ powerful 16 rebounds in 24 minutes yesterday more than doubled the next best individual effort as Miami’s Julian Lewis finished with seven rebounds in 32 minutes.
Most importantly, Trayce is on a mission to solidify his individual legacy both statistically and by taking this Indiana team as far as it can this season.