The Minute After: Maryland

  • 12/01/2023 10:15 pm in

Thoughts on a 65-53 win against the Terrapins:

As the starting lineups were introduced, you could feel Big Ten league play was back. The Assembly Hall faithful had more energy, more juice, more life. And the Hoosiers responded in kind.

They got off to a terrific start, stymying Maryland with a connected defense. On offense, their bread-and-butter down low of Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau had it going. The Terps looked overwhelmed and outmatched, Kevin Willard calling a timeout just three and half minutes into the game to try and stop the bleeding. It was a wound that never healed, as Indiana kept attacking throughout this one, once bumping the lead out to 23 points midway through the second half. Yes, Indiana took its foot off the gas from there, playing sloppy and less focused, which didn’t make this an end-to-end dominating performance. After scoring 1.17 points per possession in the first half, Indiana only mustered .79 in the second half. A game it seemed destined the Hoosiers would at least get into the 70s turned out to be 65 points on offense instead. Still, for a team favored to win this game by just two points, the 12-point victory is a strong start to the Big Ten season.

Without Xavier Johnson out tonight due to injury, fellow team captain Trey Galloway stepped up in a big way in his absence. Galloway got opportunistic buckets in transition and sliced his way into the lane for scores in the halfcourt (12 points, 6-of-10 shooting). But he also made his mark setting up teammates, assisting on six baskets this evening, tying a career-high.

“We’re not really worried about who’s scoring,” Galloway said after the contest. “We just want to get the win.”

Gabe Cupps, starting in place of the injured Johnson, still hasn’t found his footing offensively. But he dove on the court for a loose ball in the first half, emblematic of Indiana’s effort level to start the game. Cupps also held his own on defense and picked up two steals. Picking up where he left off against Harvard, Mackenzie Mgbako is showing signs of turning the corner. He got after the boards early and snagged seven for the night, three coming on the offensive end. Mgbako looked more engaged defensively. And he also pumped in 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting, going 4-of-4 from the line and 1-of-2 from deep.

And then there was Ware. The Oregon transfer continues to be a silky smooth, efficient basketball player. His length was a serious problem for the Terrapins on both ends. Maryland got a little sheepish in the paint when Ware was around. And at one point late in the first half, Ware essentially scored over the top of a triple team, got fouled and hit the free throw to boot. He posted another double-double in this one with 18 points and 12 rebounds.

The Hoosiers had an ugly night at the charity stripe, shooting just 10-of-18 (55.6 percent). Payton Sparks hit 1-of-4 as he continues to struggle to connect from the free-throw line. And all the sloppy play late meant the Hoosiers turned the ball over on 24 percent of their possessions. Reneau sat with foul trouble for chunks of this game and got called for a couple of travel violations. Still, he was able to muster 11 points (4-of-6) in 19 minutes of action. Maryland continues to have issues connecting from deep, as it hit just 2-of-16, shooting a couple of air balls. The Hoosiers held Maryland to .80 points per possession.

With the Hoosiers heading into a tough three-game stretch against Michigan, Auburn and Kansas next, this is one it felt like they had to have. Credit them for coming out and taking care of business.

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