The Minute After: Auburn

  • 12/09/2023 5:15 pm in

Thoughts on a 104-76 loss to the Tigers:

Mike Woodson keeps scheduling these marquee non-conference games. But so far, his Indiana teams can’t compete. Be it Kansas, Arizona, UConn and now Auburn, the athleticism and talent disparity is apparent. The double-digit losses keep coming.

Indiana’s early 22-10 lead was a mirage thanks to some better-than-average 3-point shooting. Once the Tigers found their footing and started to assert themselves, the first half wasn’t a pretty finish for the Hoosiers. The stats were staggering. Auburn ripped off a 42-12 run and left the Hoosiers in its dust. The Tigers had 13 assists against just one turnover and scored 1.36 points per possession. Their length and athleticism were just too much for Indiana to handle. Even Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau, often dominant in their matchups this season, couldn’t get it going. They were bothered and looked uncomfortable, combining for just a 4-of-15 shooting performance across the first 20 minutes.

The Hoosiers did come out of halftime with a renewed sense of urgency and fight. But it was short-lived. Auburn’s dynamism and depth were just too overwhelming. Aden Holloway had 24 points and burned the Hoosiers all afternoon. Jaylin Williams pumped in 24 as well. K.D. Johnson was a tough cover off the perimeter and dropped in 14. Denver Jones had 12. Chad Baker-Mazara dropped in 11. Tre Donaldson had 10. That’s six players in double figures. Holloway led the charge from deep, hitting 5-of-8. Each of the rest of the double-digit Tigers also dropped in at least one 3-pointer on an afternoon the team connected on 14-of-29 (48.3 percent) from deep.

The Hoosiers, meanwhile, made just six 3-pointers all game. Their hot start at least made their percentage higher than usual (6-of-17, 35.3 percent). The conversation about Indiana’s low 3-point shooting volume and lack of firepower from deep compared to the rest of modern college basketball has become a bit tired already this season. But these were the types of games the trend foretold, as the Hoosiers were outscored by 24 from deep on top of a poor defensive showing. The Tigers posted 1.4 points per possession in this one, an absolutely dominant offensive game en route to 104 points.

Ware continued to be bothered in the second half, often having trouble getting the ball above his head as Auburn locked him up at the waist. He was just 2-of-8 from the floor this afternoon, though an 8-of-10 mark from the line helped him to 13 points. Reneau got it going early in the second half when Indiana showed some signs of life and led all Indiana scorers with 15. Gabe Cupps had his best offensive game of the season, going 4-of-6 from the field and 2-of-3 from deep for 11 points. Off the bench, Anthony Walker looked like he belonged in this game athletically, scoring nine points, grabbing five rebounding and blocking two shots.

This was an embarrassing loss. Bruce Pearl and his Auburn Tigers completely dismantled Woodson and the Hoosiers. Kansas is next up at Assembly Hall a week from today. With a home crowd behind them, can the Hoosiers at least keep it respectable? After today’s performance, that might be the best one can hope for.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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