Five takeaways from Indiana’s win against Louisville
Indiana bounced back from its 20-point loss on Sunday against UConn with a 74-66 triumph against Louisville on Monday afternoon at Madison Square Garden.
Here are five takeaways from the victory against the Cardinals:
Indiana’s goes zone to stop dribble penetration
Mike Woodson is steadfast in his belief in man-to-man defense, but he made a necessary adjustment on Monday afternoon.
After Louisville took control of the game in the second half, Woodson switched to a zone defense to limit dribble penetration. The adjustment worked.
The Cardinals couldn’t make perimeter shots and seemed confused by the defensive switch.
“I knew Woody wouldn’t play zone. Or I thought. He tricked me,” Louisville coach Kenny Payne said. “But to be honest with you, that (zone) would be the last thing I would think we would have a problem with because we’ve been really, really good vs. zone, even in practices… But in this game we got tentative, we got stagnant. We processed the game instead of instinctively moving the ball. We telegraphed passes. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Don’t expect the zone to become a regular adjustment for Indiana.
Woodson said in the postgame that he’s “still trying to get our man-to-man defense where I need it to be.”
Bench provides a boost
Indiana’s bench production early in the season had been underwhelming.
Besides some early flashes of stellar play from Gabe Cupps, most of the scoring and minutes had come from the starting lineup. Through four games, Indiana’s bench was averaging 11.2 points.
On Monday, the bench scored 30 points. Four different Hoosiers contributed, led by 11 points from Anthony Walker in 20 minutes. Nine of Walker’s points came in the first half.
Indiana also got contributions from sophomore CJ Gunn (six points), Kaleb Banks (four points) and Payton Sparks (nine points).
Gunn was again active defensively and shot 3-for-7 from the field. Sparks went 4-for-5 from the field and had several vital buckets when Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau were benched due to foul trouble. And Banks had his best game as a Hoosier in 25 minutes. He was excellent defensively and on the glass, finishing with a team-high eight rebounds and three blocked shots.
Xavier Johnson leads Indiana down the stretch
After having a minimal impact in Sunday’s loss against UConn due to foul trouble, Xavier Johnson bounced back against Louisville.
Johnson had four of his team-high five assists in the second half and finished with 14 points in 31 minutes.
The sixth-year point guard made Indiana’s only 3-pointer in the game and shot 9-for-12 from the free-throw line. With Trey Galloway struggling, the Hoosiers needed Johnson to step up and produce in a tight game down the stretch.
And he did just that.
“He’s a senior, he’s supposed to do that,” Mike Woodson told Don Fischer on the postgame radio show. “I just gotta get him to understand it’s OK to lead.”
A much-improved effort on the glass
Indiana’s rebounding numbers through four games were cause for concern.
The Hoosiers were giving up a ton of offensive rebounds and too many second-chance points. And their ability to crash the offensive boards and get second-chance points had been limited.
On Sunday against UConn, Indiana was outscored 16-0 in second-chance points.
Indiana’s performance on the boards was much better against Louisville, which entered the game as one of the nation’s top 20 offensive-rebounding teams.
The Cardinals only grabbed 20 percent of their missed shots against Indiana and scored only eight second-chance points.
Indiana still needs several guys – Malik Reneau and Mackenzie Mgbako, most notably – to start rebounding at a much higher level. Reneau only grabbed three rebounds in 20 minutes in Monday’s win. But the guard rebounding was better against Louisville, with Johnson grabbing four and Galloway also corralling four boards.
Indiana’s deficit from distance continues to grow
Indiana won Monday’s game despite another porous perimeter shooting performance.
The Hoosiers attempted only 11 3-pointers in the win and connected just once from distance.
In five games, Indiana has only made 15 3-pointers and is shooting a dismal 23.4 percent from deep.
Indiana has been outscored by an average of 20.4 points on 3-pointers through five games. That’s an unsustainable margin moving forward against better competition. In five games, Galloway is 3-for-14 on 3s and Mgbako is 1-for-13.
Perimeter shooting is unlikely to develop into a strength for IU until the problem is addressed via recruiting. But in the short term, Indiana has to do better than only three made 3-pointers per game and a sub-25 shooting percentage.
(Photo credit: IU Athletics)