The Minute After: North Alabama

  • 12/21/2023 11:21 pm in

Thoughts on an 83-66 win against the Lions:


Finally, Indiana put a lesser opponent to bed early and left nothing to doubt. Finally, Indiana made 3s, a whole bunch of ’em.

Tonight’s contest felt free and easy, as the Hoosiers got it going early and really never looked back. A halftime lead of nine got up to as much as 25 in the second half before settling in at a 17-point IU victory.

About those 3-pointers. Indiana’s 12 makes on 24 attempts (50 percent) are the most triples the Hoosiers have connected on in a game in the Mike Woodson era. Malik Reneau led the way, hitting 4-of-4. Three of those came in the first half. The first was a trailer in transition. Then Reneau added some razzle-dazzle. He hit a deep 3-pointer off the right wing as the shot clock expired and Indiana needed to hoist a shot up. And with time winding down at the end of the first half, Reneau launched another one from the left wing and banged it home. He added his fourth 3-pointer in the second half.

“It just gives me and my team great confidence shooting the ball, especially going into this break we’re about to have,” Reneau said about his feelings seeing the ball go down in his post-game interview on the Big Ten Network.

Beyond Reneau, several other Hoosiers got in the action. Trey Galloway made 2-of-4. Mackenzie Mgbako hit 2-of-6. Gabe Cupps, Anthony Leal, Anthony Walker and Kaleb Banks all hit one to round out the makes from deep. IU played with more pace and energy on offense than last time out against Morehead State. The Hoosiers shared the ball well and played together, assisting on 25 of their 31 made field goals. Galloway’s nine assists this evening were a career-high.

Kel’el Ware struggled against extra defenders swarming him in the first half . But Galloway was able to unlock him in the second half thanks to lobs in the pick-and-roll game for some easy alley-oops. Those scores seemed to give Ware some life on defense, as he picked up two blocks during the same stretch of the game. Ware finished with just eight points on 4-of-7 shooting. But it was his most efficient offense game in a while.

Beyond his four 3-pointers, Reneau also had it going off the left block this evening, his typical array of post moves on full display. His 25 points (10-of-14) tonight were a career-high. Despite now being only 10-of-44 (22.7 percent) on the season from deep, Mgbako continues to just keep playing and affect the game in other ways as he posted 12 points, five rebounds and three assists in this one.

Indiana is now done with this packed three-games-in-six-days stretch. The Hoosiers gave Kansas a solid run for their money, avoided catastrophe against Morehead State and dominated for the most part tonight. They now get a week’s rest before Kennesaw State on Dec. 29 with Big Ten play picking up again on Jan. 3 against Nebraska. Xavier Johnson is out of his boot and was shooting lightly before the game, but time will tell just when he returns to action.

“It’s good to see the ball go in the hole,” Mike Woodson said after the contest.

Indeed it is.

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