3-point shooting paves the way in Indiana’s 83-66 win against North Alabama

  • 12/22/2023 7:58 am in

For Mike Woodson, the bottom line on Indiana’s 3-point shooting was this: the Hoosiers took enough of them; they just had to make them.

He wasn’t worried about the volume of shots beyond the arc or his players’ ability to make the shot. Keep working, Woodson said, and hopefully, something clicks so the shots start falling.

Thursday night, something clicked.

In their 83-66 victory against North Alabama, the Hoosiers set a new season-high with 12 made 3-pointers, vaulting over their previous season-high of six. It also marked the most 3-pointers made during Woodson’s tenure at Indiana.

“When you take ’em, you’re supposed to make ’em,” Woodson said postgame. “We’ve had good looks all year. The ball has moved some all year. Just got to stick the ball in the hole when you have the shots. I thought tonight guys were comfortable, they shot it. When they had the shot they took it and they made it.”

Indiana drained six 3-pointers in each half, but it was the first half that got the attention of everyone watching — and everyone who wasn’t watching, who probably then decided to watch the second half after seeing highlights during halftime.

Because it isn’t every day you see a 6-foot-9 forward who had never made more than two 3-pointers in a game in his collegiate career go 3-for-3 from beyond the arc in the first half alone.

Malik Reneau, welcome to the perimeter. Indiana fans probably wouldn’t mind if he stayed there for a while.

The sophomore played one of his most impressive games as a Hoosier Thursday night, posting a career-high 25 points and shooting a perfect 4-for-4 from deep — also a career-high. He also had seven rebounds and two assists in 27 minutes.

Reneau entered the game shooting 3-for-11 from beyond the arc and was only 2-for-8 in his freshman season. After all, he didn’t need to shoot threes with his size and skills in the paint. But this season, the Hoosiers have needed 3-point shooting from anyone who can make them. So why not Reneau?

“It helps,” Woodson said. “The fact that he shot ’em all tonight in rhythm, that helps.”

Of course, with 12 made 3-pointers, Reneau wasn’t the only contributor from downtown. Mackenzie Mgbako and Trey Galloway each had two 3-pointers, and Gabe Cupps, Anthony Walker, Kaleb Banks and Anthony Leal each made one. It was a true team effort.

“This past week or so, you could see a lot of people had been in the gym getting up shots, getting up extra shots,” Reneau said about the team effort from beyond the arc. “Even during practice, after practice, before practice. I think that contributed to having so much confidence on the court and being able to knock down shots.”

Confidence was the key to Indiana’s success Thursday night. It manifested itself in the quick passes, off-ball movement, wide-open shots, defensive pressure and no-look lobs that characterized Indiana’s win.

Indiana had to adjust to North Alabama at the beginning of the game, as the Lions swarmed in the paint and kept players like Reneau and Ware from executing all of their typical moves. Once the Hoosiers found ways to break that up and get around it, though, it was game over — literally.

The combination of Galloway and Ware proved exceptionally lethal as Galloway consistently found Ware open near the basket, providing him with no-look lobs that ended in rim-rattling dunks. Galloway finished with a career-high nine assists as the team finished with 25 assists on 31 made shots.

“I feel like when you’re touching the ball, you get more confidence and the ball’s moving around, you get more shots, everybody is getting a shot,” Reneau said. “I think that was a great job by Gallo. He played great today.”

The energy from Reneau’s 3-pointers — especially his make in the final seconds of the first half — spread to the rest of the team, giving the Hoosiers the extra push to go on multiple unanswered scoring runs and extend their lead to 20+ points for the majority of the second half.

Indiana came out in the second half with a kind of aggressiveness and determination that had previously been largely absent from their game. They moved quickly, communicated well and made few mistakes. In short, they showed just what the Hoosiers were capable of.

“We started playing Indiana basketball,” Woodson said.

The key is to keep playing Indiana basketball, which seems to include taking and making 3-pointers.

Filed to: