Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss against UConn

  • 11/20/2023 7:43 am in

Indiana suffered its first loss Sunday afternoon, falling 77-57 to UConn at Madison Square Garden in New York.

Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Huskies:

Indiana was dominated on the glass

The Hoosiers struggled on the glass in each of their first three games, a warning sign of what was to come against better competition.

On Sunday, UConn dismantled the Hoosiers on the glass.

The Huskies grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and outscored Indiana 16-0 in second-chance points.

“That’s been a big concern since we started this journey,” Mike Woodson told Don Fischer on the postgame radio show. “The two exhibition games and then the first few games.”

It’s still a big concern.

Outside of Kel’el Ware, every player on the IU roster has been below average on the boards through three games. Malik Reneau grabbed just three rebounds against UConn and is averaging fewer than five per game. Trey Galloway has a total of six rebounds in four games. Mackenzie Mgbako has 11 rebounds in four games. Xavier Johnson has eight rebounds.

Indiana now ranks outside of the top 300 in defensive rebounding percentage nationally. Opponents are rebounding more than 35 percent of their missed shots against the Hoosiers.

The Hoosiers continue to not emphasize the 3-point shot

Another game, another contest with Indiana seeming indifferent to attempting shots from the perimeter.

The Hoosiers took only 13 3-pointers on Sunday – UConn took 22 – and were outscored by 12 points from behind the 3-point line.

Through three games, Indiana ranks in the bottom 15 nationally in point distribution from 3-pointers. The Hoosiers are generating just 27.3 percent of their points from distance.

In each game this season, Indiana has been outscored by double figures from beyond the 3-point line.

While it’s unrealistic for Indiana to take a high volume of 3-pointers with its personnel, continuing to be outscored from the perimeter by such a large margin is not a winning formula for the long term.

Mackenzie Mgbako continues to struggle

Freshman Mackenzie Mgbako followed up his best game of the young season against Wright State with a forgettable performance against UConn.

Mgbako scored two points in 23 minutes on 0-for-3 shooting from the field. His only points came from the free throw line.

His defense has been an equally glaring issue.

Mgbako continues to get beat on simple plays like back cuts because he’s often out of position and stands straight up when away from the ball rather than getting down in a defensive stance.

Through four games, his play hasn’t justified a spot in the starting lineup moving forward.

Foul trouble from Xavier Johnson limits his minutes and hurts Indiana’s backcourt play

Johnson committed two fouls in the early minutes of Indiana’s loss on Sunday and his third foul later in the half sent him back to the bench.

He played a total of three minutes in the first half.

Without Johnson on the floor, UConn guard Tristen Newton dominated the game.

Newton scored a game-high 23 points, dished out six assists, grabbed 11 rebounds and had two steals in 34 minutes.

As one of Indiana’s essential pieces, the absence of Johnson was a game-changer for the Hoosiers. As a sixth-year senior, Johnson has to avoid a situation like Sunday where he only plays 14 minutes due to foul trouble.

Malik Reneau’s career day leads the way offensively

The bright spot for Indiana offensively on Sunday was Reneau.

The 6-foot-8 sophomore from Miami finished with a career-high 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting from the field.

He also blocked three shots, but fouled out in 27 minutes.

Through four games, Reneau is 25-for-37 on 2s (67.6 percent).

Reneau’s footwork is better this season and he also seems more comfortable making moves when he catches the ball in the post. While Ware has been Indiana’s best player overall through four games, Reneau is a building block for the IU program moving forward.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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