Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss against Auburn

  • 12/09/2023 6:05 pm in

Indiana was blown out Saturday afternoon by Auburn – 104-76 – at the State Farm Center in Atlanta.

Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Tigers:

Indiana’s defensive effort was non-existent

Auburn scored 10 points in the first 7:27. Indiana built a 22-10 early lead on the strength of 3-point shooting and a few defensive stops.

But as Mike Woodson commented to Don Fischer on the postgame radio show: “And then we just stopped playing.”

The Tigers blitzed Indiana from that point on, scoring 92 points in 32:33 of game action. Auburn scored 1.41 points per possession in a complete defensive collapse by Woodson’s team.

Woodson built his first Indiana team on the strength of its defense. But the program regressed last season from 24th in the country in KenPom’s adjusted defensive efficiency to 45th. This season, through nine games – a healthy sample size – Indiana has the 76th-best defense.

Saturday’s effort needed to be better. Indiana didn’t put up enough resistance in the paint, it didn’t contest perimeter shots and it never made Auburn uncomfortable. The Tigers did what they wanted to do when they wanted to do it.

Lack of 3-point shooting continues to be a glaring program issue

Indiana hasn’t prioritized 3-point shooting in the Woodson era. The Hoosiers haven’t recruited enough guards to space the floor and the offense remains focused on entering the ball into the post.

On Saturday, the Hoosiers were outscored by 24 points from beyond the 3-point line. The Tigers made 14 triples and Indiana made just six. Four of those 3-pointers came in the first 3:43 of the game.

Indiana is being outscored by an average of 15.6 points from the 3-point line this season.

The Hoosiers need to take more 3-pointers and make more 3-pointers. Saturday was just the latest example of this program deficiency.

Auburn made Kel’el Ware uncomfortable in the post

Kel’el Ware has been Indiana’s best and most important player this season.

But on Saturday, Auburn made Ware work for everything in the paint and at the rim. Ware looked uncomfortable on most of his looks and Auburn didn’t let him get many clean looks.

The 7-foot center struggled, shooting just 2-for-8 from the field.

Ware did get to the line 10 times and connected on eight of his attempts to finish with 13 points to go along with eight rebounds and a blocked shot in 28 minutes.

But Indiana’s lack of a perimeter game makes it easy for defenses to key on Ware and Malik Reneau when the Hoosiers enter the ball to either player. Without a threat from IU to knock down perimeter shots, defenses can bring pressure without the fear of getting burned.

Another marquee neutral-court game ends in a lopsided result

Woodson has aggressively scheduled non-conference matchups since arriving in the spring of 2021.

He worked to get the Kentucky series back on the schedule. He scheduled a home-and-home with Kansas, a neutral court game against Arizona in Las Vegas, got the Hoosiers in the Empire Classic in New York and Saturday’s game against Auburn in Atlanta.

But the Hoosiers have yet to be able to compete against the nation’s best.

Indiana lost by 14 to Arizona last season and by 22 at Kansas. The Hoosiers have dropped neutral court games this season by 20 to UConn and 28 to Auburn. Indiana beat Louisville in New York, but the Cardinals are one of the worst power conference teams in the country.

Scheduling against some of the nation’s best programs has been a welcome change. But the lack of results in those games shows how far the program still has to go.

Auburn’s major advantage in points off turnovers, bench points

Two numbers stand out when looking at the final stats from Saturday’s blowout loss for the Hoosiers.

Auburn turned 12 Indiana turnovers in 15 points.

The Tigers won the points off of turnovers battle 15-to-2. Indiana’s porous defensive effort and meager ball pressure meant Auburn committed just three turnovers despite playing an up-tempo pace.

The Tigers also held a distinct advantage in bench points.

Auburn’s bench scored 40 points compared to just 21 for the Hoosiers. Auburn had three bench players finish in double figures, including 14 points from KD Johnson.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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