Notebook: Blowout win over SEMO overshadows larger issues

Indiana finished up a stretch of four games in eight days with an 83-55 thrashing of Southeast Missouri State.

The 7-1 Hoosiers led wire-to-wire in a less than capacity Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. With students finishing up semester-long projects and prepping for finals, the Hoosiers were unable to feed off the crowd like they were able to against UNC.

Indiana showed the same flaws that have been apparent throughout the season, particularly when it comes to turning the ball over.

Indiana has committed at least 15 turnovers in all but one game this season, and tonight was no exception. The Hoosiers gave SEMO 18 free possessions, with six different players ending the day with at least two.

“We forced a couple passes,” junior Robert Johnson said. “I think making a simple play is something we’ve got to continue to get better at, making passes one dribble sooner and not waiting. I think the more we just play together, the more connected we’ll get.”

On the season the Hoosiers have turned the ball over on 23 percent of possessions, ranking 324th in the country, per KenPom.

But there were plenty of positives to take away, even after considering the low quality of opponent.

For the fourth consecutive game, Indiana blocked at least six shots and held the opposition to under 40 percent shooting from the field.

The most impressive defensive stretch was at the start of the game, where Indiana held SEMO to two points over the first eight minutes.

“The guys are really talking and active, especially in the one stretch in the first half,” Johnson said. “I think we set the tone early with how we wanted to handle certain guys and take away tendencies.”

Two nights after holding SIU Edwardsville to just seven assists, Southeast Missouri State couldn’t do any better, finishing the game with season-lows in assists (7) and points (55).

Juwan Morgan, Thomas Bryant, and De’Ron Davis continued their recent stretches of solid play, with Davis reaching double-figures scoring for a second straight contest. The Hoosiers made a concerted effort to get the ball into Davis down low, and Crean says he’ll expect more from the freshman as the season progresses, especially when it comes to using his passing abilities when he’s in the post.

“It’s something we know we’re going to need,” Crean said. “We don’t do it a lot in practice just yet. We’ll have more time to do it this week.”

Morgan had another perfect night from the field, hitting all four of his shots to go along with a block, a steal and an assist. Morgan has not missed a field goal since the 7:30 mark of the second half against UNC on Wednesday.

Bryant, meanwhile, took only two shots on the day but contributed in a variety of ways, becoming the second player in Division I this season to post a line of seven points, 10 rebounds, three assists, three steals and four blocks.

After making a hustle play late in the first half, he enthusiastically gave Crean a chest bump.

“Sometimes we have too much self-inflicted pressure because the frustration kicks in. And they’ve had a very long week,” Crean said of the chest bump. “(Bryant) just needed a reminder that it’s okay to have some fun.”

Cleveland drops the hammer

6-foot-6 Antonius Cleveland was one of the lone bright spots for the Redhawks, scoring 13 points and completing a number of highlight plays.

Three of Cleveland’s six made field goals were slam dunks, with the most notable coming at the expense of Zach McRoberts.

Anunoby progressing

OG Anunoby missed his second consecutive game with what Crean has labeled as a “high-ankle sprain,” with the assumption being that his recovery time would be measured in weeks.

“He’s got the boot on. He’s off the crutches. It’s a day-to-day thing, I imagine now,” Crean said. “He couldn’t have played today, but he’s definitely making progress.”

With nearly a week before Indiana next takes the court, Anunoby could well be back in the rotation when the Hoosiers face Houston Baptist next Saturday.

Video: Tom Crean reacts to win over Southeast Missouri State

Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 83-55 win over Southeast Missouri State on Sunday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch his postgame comments below:

Video: IU players react to win over Southeast Missouri State

De’Ron Davis and Robert Johnson met with the media following Indiana’s 83-55 win over Southeast Missouri State on Sunday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch their postgame comments below:

Video: Rick Ray reacts to loss at Indiana

Southeast Missouri State coach Rick Ray addressed the media following his team’s 83-55 loss to Indiana on Sunday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.

Watch his postgame comments below:

Photo Gallery: Indiana vs. Southeast Missouri State

Check out 39 photos by Jamie Owens from Indiana’s 83-55 win over Southeast Missouri State at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in the embedded photo gallery. Purchase prints from J. Scott Photography.

The Minute After: Southeast Missouri State

Thoughts on a 83-55 win over the Redhawks:

On its last leg of a four-games-in-eight-days stretch, Indiana slopped its way through the first half of Sunday afternoon’s contest. Over the first 20 minutes of the game, Indiana turned the ball over on 33.3 percent of its possessions thanks to some overly happy feet and some serious lack of focus.

Despite turning it over at an alarming rate, Indiana still mustered a solid 1.08 points per possession. When the Hoosiers actually held possession in the first half, the offense hummed with inside-out crisp ball movement for scores all over the court.

Juwan Morgan continued his impressive weekend on Branch McCracken Court. After an 8-of-8 performance (18 points) against SIU Edwardsville, Morgan tossed up another perfect game from the field (4-of-4). OG Anunoby was off crutches today and there are some signs his high ankle sprain injury may not keep him out long term. But in his absence, Morgan has done a great job picking up some of the offensive slack.

This was yet another contest the Hoosiers shot under 40 percent from 3-point range (7-of-20, 35 percent) and it’s becoming a bit of a trend. That said, Johnson had a number go halfway down before coming out in the first half. And the looks were mostly pretty good tonight. Over the last two seasons, Indiana has been among the best 3-point shooting teams in the country. Last season, they hit 41.6 percent, good for fourth in the nation. Two years ago, they hit 40.6 percent, good for sixth in the country. Entering tonight’s contest, the Hoosiers sat at 38.6 percent, which ranks them 52nd. Still quite good, but not elite.

It’s a number to keep an eye on as the non-conference season rolls along.

Indiana racked up eight blocks again this afternoon as it did on Friday night, tying a season-high. In a game he only took two field goal attempts, Thomas Bryant accounted for half of Indiana’s blocks (four) with De’Ron Davis (two), Freddie McSwain (one) and Juwan Morgan (one) accounting for the other half. Indiana also racked up 10 steals in the game and scored 16 points off turnovers, more than the 13 the Redhawks got off of Indiana’s 18 turnovers. They held Southeast Missouri State to just .77 points per possession.

Curtis Jones had an efficient 3-of-4 (eight points) shooting performance in 13 minutes of action and continues to show nice body control around the basket on the break. Devonte Green got back in the scoring mix a little with five points thanks to a 3-pointer and two makes at the line. And the Hoosiers also had a nice, balanced mix of scorers tonight with four players in double digits. Morgan (11 points), James Blackmon Jr. (11 points), De’Ron Davis (14) and Johnson (17) all chipped in.

Indiana’s turnover percentage improved by game’s end to 25.2 percent, but that’s a number that’s still much too high. The Hoosiers ended last season with the nation’s sixth best offense despite a turnover percentage of 19.6 percent, which ranked 272nd in the country. This is an offensive system that can still be successful despite a less than stellar turnover rate.

Still, it continues to be a concern and could come back to bite Indiana later in the month when it takes on elite teams in Butler and Louisville.

At the Buzzer: Indiana 83, Southeast Missouri State 55

Quick thoughts on Indiana’s 83-55 win over Southeast Missouri State:

How it happened: This game went just as expected. Aside from a lull midway through the first half when Southeast Missouri State cut Indiana’s lead to five, Indiana controlled this contest throughout. The Hoosiers didn’t shoot it well from the perimeter, but made 22 of their 36 2-point field goal attempts and finished with 1.16 points per possession. The win was Indiana’s 23rd straight at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, which is the sixth longest active streak in the country.

Standout performance: Robert Johnson continued the strong start to his junior season with 17 points on 7-of-13 shooting from the field. Johnson has scored in double figures in seven of Indiana’s eight games. The Richmond (Va.) native also added seven rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes.

Statistic that stands out: As we wrote pregame, one item to watch coming in was Indiana’s turnovers. Southeast Missouri State came in ranked in the top 75 nationally in terms of forcing turnovers and the Hoosiers had difficultly taking care of the ball. Indiana finished with 18 turnovers for a final turnover percentage of 25.2.

Final IU player stats:

semostats

Final tempo-free stats:

semotempofree

What to watch for: Southeast Missouri State

Following Friday’s 83-60 win over SIU Edwardsville, it’s a quick turnaround for Indiana. The Hoosiers will host Southeast Missouri State today at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Redhawks are 4-3 this season.

The game will be broadcast at 4 p.m. ET on ESPN2 with Clay Matvick and Sean Harrington on the call. In lieu of our traditional game preview, here’s a look at three things to watch for on Sunday:

· Is fatigue a factor? Today is Indiana’s fourth game in eight days. Will the Hoosiers show any signs of fatigue? Indiana started slow in Friday’s win over SIU Edwardsville, but quickly got it together to win convincingly.

Indiana won’t need to play its best to beat Southeast Missouri State, but the Redhawks were competitive earlier in the season in what ended up a 19-point loss to Illinois at the State Farm Center.

“I know they went into Illinois and got after them,” Tom Crean said Friday of Southeast Missouri State. “So we won’t take them lightly. We’ll get it all figured out the best we can.”

· Can Indiana again improve on taking care of the ball? Indiana had its best game of the young season on Friday in terms of taking care of the ball, but there’s still plenty of work to be done.

Against SIU Edwardsville, Indiana turned it over 13 times for a turnover percentage of 18.9. That number won’t be as easy to repeat this afternoon.

Through seven games, Southeast Missouri State is 68th nationally in turnover percentage (21.5). No team has posted a turnover percentage of less than 18.5 against the Redhawks. Besides forcing turnovers, there’s little that stands out on Southeast Missouri State’s defensive profile, so the turnovers in this game will be the key thing to watch.

· The young guys: De’Ron Davis was excellent in wins over UNC and SIU Edwardsville. Curtis Jones took some questionable shots against North Carolina, but bounced back with a strong game against SIU Edwardsville. And after stellar play in the preseason exhibitions, Devonte Green has struggled with turnovers and his perimeter shot in the regular season.

Sunday should be an opportunity for all three players to build on their experience, but it might be most important for Green, who Indiana is going to need to come through at some point this season. The Hoosiers have a strong three-guard rotation with James Blackmon Jr., Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson and have been able to rely on Jones at times.

But there will be a game when one (or more) of those guys gets into foul trouble and the Hoosiers will have to call on Green to give them quality minutes. For that reason, it’s important for Green to bounce back from his recent struggles and build some confidence in today’s game and also next weekend against Houston Baptist. With just five games remaining between now and IU’s Big Ten opener against Nebraska, time is beginning to run short for IU’s young players to gain experience in lower pressure situations.

Five takeaways from Indiana’s win over SIU Edwardsville

Indiana moved to 6-1 on Friday night with an easy 83-60 win over SIU Edwardsville at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The win was the 22nd straight in Bloomington for the Hoosiers.

Here’s a look at five takeaways from the win over the Cougars:

· De’Ron Davis is emerging as a force: Indiana had no choice but to bring De’Ron Davis along slowly this fall. The freshman from Colorado arrived on campus in late August, which meant that he missed a full summer of conditioning with Lyonel Anderson.

On top of that, Davis was in and out of workouts in the fall with injuries, so he’s still working his way into shape. Seven games into IU’s season, the talent is beginning to shine through. Davis was excellent against North Carolina and he followed it up with a career-high 14 points on Friday night.

What makes Davis special? He’s not an explosive athlete, but he’s been well coached, has very good fundamentals and understands positioning. He’s long, he doesn’t leave his feet prematurely to block shots and he can seal very well in the post when he gets position. With OG Anunoby out at least through the weekend, this weekend’s games are the perfect opportunity to get Davis more experience.

· Morgan gets aggressive: It’s not uncommon for Juwan Morgan to try and make his presence felt around the rim and on the boards, but Friday’s performance was the most aggressive he’s been in an IU uniform.

He was a man among boys in pursuing rebounds and needed just 20 minutes to score 18 points and grab 10 rebounds. It was the first double-double of Morgan’s career. Five of the rebounds were offensive.

Morgan had struggled finishing some through IU’s first six games. He had just 36 points on the season coming into Friday and was making 50 percent of his 2s, which is below average on IU’s efficient roster. His play on Friday was a step in the right direction.

· Blackmon has off shooting night, but still makes an impact: Shots were not falling for James Blackmon Jr. on Friday night. The junior was just 2-of-10 from the field and finished with 10 points.

But Blackmon Jr. followed a nine-rebound game against North Carolina with six rebounds in 24 minutes against SIU Edwardsville. He’s currently second on the team in rebounding at 7.2 per game, an impressive number for a 6-foot-4 guard.

“I think when he’s aware of it (he’s good),” Tom Crean said of Blackmon Jr.’s rebounding. “There’s been some nights he hasn’t. And when he’s aware of it — he was a good rebounder last year. He was rebounding the ball well when he got hurt. But he is quick. He’s got a good vertical. He’s got strong legs. And he understands that it’s an absolute emphasis.”

· Indiana appears to be a better shot blocking team this season: Indiana didn’t have great rim protection last season. The Hoosiers ranked just 129th nationally in block percentage at 9.8.

Seven games into the 2016-17 campaign, Indiana is trending in the right direction with its shot blocking. The Hoosiers currently sit at 57th nationally in block percentage (12.9). Indiana matched a season-high with eight blocks against SIU Edwardsville.

The question is, can it continue when the competition improves in Big Ten play?

· Anunoby, Hartman injury updates: Both OG Anunoby and Collin Hartman are out indefinitely, but there are encouraging signs with both players. Hartman jogged out onto the floor last night with the team in pregame warmups after taking some jump shots pregame against North Carolina.

And Anunoby, who was on crutches and wearing a boot last night, stood up on the bench multiple times and appeared to be getting around pretty well. Crean said postgame that he doesn’t believe Anunoby’s injury is a “long term thing.”

“I don’t think it’s long-term,” Crean said. “But he’s going to be sick being in that chair. We don’t do any boot shooting at least not efficiently, any boot shooting, because it’s just — there’s no carry-over to that. We started right away yesterday on his arc, working on his dribbling. And he’s doing all the stuff that he’s got to do and he’s just got to heal.

“We’ll get a little more of an indication tomorrow. But we’re certainly not banking on him. I wouldn’t rule him out like officially. I can’t do that on Sunday. That wouldn’t be made until tomorrow or Sunday. But I’m not banking on him. I’d say that in here. But we’ll see. Every ankle responds differently.”

Notebook: Career nights from Morgan, Davis help Hoosiers down SIU Edwardsville

A different atmosphere surrounded Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Friday night. After its big win against No. 3 UNC on Wednesday, IU had to bring its own energy instead of feeding off the crowd. And with the absence of OG Anunoby added to the plate, Indiana needed someone to step up.

“It goes across the board for everybody on the team, when someone goes down everyone has to step up,” sophomore Juwan Morgan said. “I don’t think it takes just one person to do everything that OG does for us. I think collectively we all had to do that for him.”

As it turns out, more than one Hoosier accepted the challenge. Freshman De’Ron Davis and Morgan had career-high nights for IU to lift the Hoosiers past Southern Illinois Edwardsville 83-60 on Friday evening.

The Hoosiers began the game with a rocky start as it took them almost four minutes to score. They shot just 0-for-8 from the field to start. When Zach McRoberts checked into the game and hit a three-pointer from the right corner, he scored IU’s first points.

“One reason that I wasn’t concerned with our slow start was the ball was going through the paint at the beginning of the game,” Tom Crean said. “And as long as that is happening, things are good.”

IU outsized SIU Edwardsville scoring 42 points in the paint and outrebounded them 45-31. Once IU gained momentum, sparks from Morgan and Davis and solid defense kept the Hoosiers rolling. Entering the under-8 timeout in the first half, IU increased its lead to 13 and kept piling it on. This second wind was all IU needed to ensure its sixth victory of the season.

Morgan was locked in and led the Hoosiers with a perfect 8-of-8 shooting performance for 18 points. Morgan rebounded enough for two, Crean said, adding 10 rebounds in his 20 minutes of play. The double-double for Morgan was the first of his career.

“I think just mentally I’ve been thinking too much about shooting, things like that,” Morgan said. “I just got back to what I was at last year and things that helped the team and I didn’t have to make plays or anything. And if I ran hard and set a screen, I knew my teammates would find me.”

As for Davis, Crean compared his role to be similar to that of a hockey player in short bursts and shifts. Tonight, Davis played 17 minutes and finished with 14 points, shooting a perfect 6-of-6 from the free throw line. Davis also added three assists in his career-high night.

“I think (Davis) will continue to grow as he gets healthy and as he gets into even better shape and he understands how hard he has to play for how long,” Crean said. “That’s a big thing right now for a young guy, and especially for a young guy that wasn’t here all summer and is coming off the injuries.”

Other notable stats for IU was that it made 19 straight free throws and finished the game shooting 87 percent from behind the line. The win also marked Indiana’s 22nd straight home win, the longest active streak in the Big Ten.

Next up, IU continues its home stretch with Southeast Missouri State on Sunday. The Hoosiers will look to emphasize closing out on defense and helping each player understand what their strengths are, Crean said.