What to Expect: Houston Baptist

  • 12/09/2016 9:45 am in

A much needed five-day break comes to an end for Indiana on Saturday as the Hoosiers host Houston Baptist at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Huskies are 3-4 and are coming off a 62-47 win over Saint Peter’s on Wednesday at home.

The game will be broadcast on BTN at 4 p.m. ET with Jeff Levering & Bob Wenzel on the call:

After a brutal stretch that included four games in eight days, Indiana had the week off. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Final exams are coming up next week and the Hoosiers also had very little time to practice during their recent run of games. Add in the fact that OG Anunoby is out with an ankle injury and several others are dealing with minor injuries and Indiana should be much more fresh when it takes the floor on Saturday.

Less than three weeks remain until the start of the Big Ten schedule and Houston Baptist is one of three remaining low major opponents on the docket. A year ago at this time, Indiana was still licking its wounds following a brutal loss at Duke in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge. This year, the Hoosiers own a top 10 national ranking, wins over Kansas and North Carolina and one of the nation’s best resumes thus far. Can Indiana continue the momentum?

MEET THE HUSKIES

Houston Baptist, which finished 17-17 last season, was picked to finish fifth in the 13-team Southland Conference in the preseason. The Huskies have played just five games so far against Division I competition with road losses to Texas Tech, New Mexico, Marquette and Rice and a win at home over Saint Peter’s, which is ranked in the top 200 of KenPom. This isn’t a contest that figures to give Indiana much, if any, trouble.

Houston Baptist has just two players averaging in double figures: 6-foot-7 senior forward Colton Lasher (pictured) and Josh Ibarra, a 6-foot-11 junior.

Lasher is averaging a team-high 13.1 points per game, but is shooting just 39 percent from the field. He has a team-high 10 steals. Ibarra is a very good defensive rebounder and is making 56.1 percent of his field goal attempts.

Alex Fountain, a 6-foot-7 senior, comes off the bench and is the team’s fourth leading scorer at 8.9 points per game. He’s also the team’s best 3-point shooter at 53.8 percent.

Sophomore Braxton Bonds and freshman Jalen Weber split the point guard duties with Bonds as the starter. The 6-foot-2 sophomore is averaging 7.4 points, four rebounds and has 21 assists (to 11 turnovers) in 25.1 minutes per game. Weber has hit 6 of his 12 3-point attempts and averages 6.6 points per game.

Reveal Chukwujekwu, a 6-foot-3 senior, is Houston Baptist’s third leading scorer (9.0 ppg) and second leading rebounder (5.6 rpg). Atif Russell, a graduate transfer from Pepperdine, is averaging 8.8 points, but is shooting just 40.5 percent from the field.

Asa Cantwell, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, has made a team-high 15 3-pointers and is shooting 50 percent from deep. Jalen Weber, a 6-foot-1 freshman, is another member of the 10-man rotation who can knock in a 3 if left open. Weber is 6-of-12 on 3s this season.

TEMPO-FREE PREVIEW

There are a couple of things Houston Baptist does well that bear watching. The Huskies are hitting 37 percent of their 3s against Division I competition and are also in the top 55 nationally in defensive rebounding percentage.

But everything else on the resume suggests it will be a long afternoon for Ron Cottrell’s team in Bloomington.

Division I opponents are making 61 percent of their 2s against Houston Baptist and are posting a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 49.4 percent. Despite having some size on the roster, Houston Baptist has no shot blocking presence and has been consistently exploited in the paint.

Houston Baptist also likes to run and in four of its five games against Division I teams, the Huskies have had 74 or more possessions.

WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO

The Vegas line will be out later on Friday afternoon, but Ken Pomeroy is projecting a 24-point win with a 99 percent chance of victory for Indiana. Sagarin has Indiana as a 25-point favorite when adjusted for home court.

With another week off between this contest and next Saturday’s Crossroads Classic game against Butler in Bankers Life Fieldhouse, this is an important game for Indiana to implement whatever it has focused on this past week in practice.

Houston Baptist is unlikely to keep this game competitive after halftime as all of its losses have come by 16 points or more. A win would push Indiana’s home court winning streak to 24 games, which is currently the fifth longest streak in the nation.

(Photo credit: Wilf Thorne, The Chronicle)

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  • Outoftheloop

    And McFly!

  • Piker

    Agree 100 percent. It is alot more important now that Butler lost to IST.

  • HAVOC

    I know this is off topic, but man am I excited and shocked that I only paid $140 total for two good seats on Stubhub for BOTH of the Crossroads Classic games! Can’t beat it!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    $$$$$ for the NCAA through Louisville basketball vs IU willing to settle for any penalty under the NCAA while Miles Brand was IU’s president. All in all, Louisville stood fast against the NCAA while we/IU did not.

  • Chappy Dan

    Right, and they uncover decades long academic sandbagging at UNC, and they get nothing. Syracuse seems to have emerged unscathed as well. Can’t think of another program that has been penalized as harshly as IU’s. Common sense tells you that improper phone calls are much much lower down a list of improprieties than hosting sex parties for high schoolers or systemic abuse of the student athlete academic system. The punishments have not fit the crimes!

  • HAVOC

    You know that will most definitely happen too :(.. but I sure hope that our boys make this game about our passing techniques more than anything. I would love to see an emphasis on working through the post as much as possible. This is arguably our last chance to brush up on passing to, and through the paint. Whatever the case, I hope CTC makes our guys stick to the gameplan.

  • HAVOC

    Hmm, prolly both!

  • IU Cal 1809

    Thanks it just makes me sick!!!

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Agreed! Take care. Now that I think of it, I can’t remember in many years when a “top tier” basketball program was severely hit by the NCAA. USC is the football program that I can think of also. Maybe Ohio State also.

  • Austin Alexander

    Even without OG our game strategy has relied less on the 3 ball. Our post play has been incredibly efficient in the past 4 games. I think it’s good to be able to hit 3’s, don’t get me wrong, but having a strong front court is essential in freeing up those shooters on the perimeter…which we’ve demonstrated very well here against the cupcakes. Now if we can translate that to more intense competition, we’ll be really hard to stop. I hate to say it but having OG out has given DD and Thomas the in-game practice they needed to develop a very solid inside out game for the two big men. Also, RJ is developing into a very solid leader in the whole process. I think we’re miles ahead of where we were against Ft Wayne maturity wise.

  • TomJameson

    He could very well be tentative, but with a little playing time he’ll get over it. Like boxing, after you get hit once you stop being tentative because now you’ve been hit and are keeping on.

    Bit counting being sick, OG will have missed a month of playing by the time Butler comes around. That’s plenty of time to get a thin layer of rust. Heck, I’m worried about the whole team after only a week of being off the court.

  • Gdaddy

    He’s talking about this game. Stop looking ahead to the Bulter and Louisville games. We’ve already been burnt while overlooking one opponent this year….

  • Ole Man

    Which is actually a repeat of what the writers on ITH have been saying. I’m just not as good at stating it.