Five takeaways from Indiana’s win against Ohio State

  • 01/07/2024 7:51 am in

Indiana rebounded from Wednesday’s ugly loss at Nebraska with a 71-65 victory against Ohio State on Saturday at Assembly Hall.

Here are five takeaways from the win against the Buckeyes:

Indiana flips the script by taking care of the ball and capitalizing on OSU turnovers

Indiana’s sloppiness with the ball in Wednesday’s loss at Nebraska resulted in a season-high 19 turnovers, leading to 27 points for the Cornhuskers.

The Hoosiers flipped the script on Saturday against Ohio State.

Indiana committed just four turnovers against the Buckeyes and forced 14 turnovers. The discrepancy led Indiana to a 22-5 advantage in points off of turnovers and it was a major reason the Hoosiers prevailed.

“We watched the game when we came back as a team,” Mike Woodson said postgame. “After I watched it a couple times, it was just awful. But we rebounded from it. Learned from it. Only had four turnovers today, which is kind of nice.”

Xavier Johnson’s improved decision-making was crucial in his second game after returning from injury.

The sixth-year guard didn’t commit a turnover in 34 minutes.

“That’s something that you rarely see from me, honestly,” Johnson said. “I’m an aggressive guard. I got to grow up, and I grew up tonight and got to keep growing up and not turn over the ball because my team needs me to make the right play every time.”

CJ Gunn provides a major spark off the bench

After logging just 14 minutes in Indiana’s past two games against Kennesaw State and Nebraska, CJ Gunn earned his way back into the rotation on Saturday night with several strong days of practice.

And Gunn delivered his most impactful performance in an IU uniform.

The Lawrence North defended at a high level and made an impact quickly with a transition dunk off of a Kel’el Ware steal. That play, which resulted in a 3-point play, got Gunn going.

He hit another first-half jumper from the right corner from a baseline out-of-bounds play. In the second half, Gunn hit a jumper with 8:58 to play to give Indiana a 3-point lead. And his 3-pointer at the 6:11 mark stretched the Hoosier lead to 60-54.

“His last few days of practice has been tremendous,” Woodson said. “I’m telling all these guys, you know, it’s how you practice, man, that carries over into a real basketball game.”

Ohio State had no answer for Malik Reneau in the post

Malik Reneau dominated Ohio State in the post for the second straight season at Assembly Hall.

As a freshman, Reneau scored 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists in an 86-70 Indiana win in late January of 2023.

Reneau struggled in the first half of Saturday’s win but responded in the final 20 minutes. He played all 20 second-half minutes and scored 19 of his game-high 23 points.

While his defensive rebounding was poor, Reneau’s offense in the post was unstoppable. He was 10-for-16 from the field and was 8-for-11 in the second half.

Reneau’s success this season is a result of a strong offseason, according to Woodson.

“This summer, you know, he put a lot of work in. Never really left campus. Got his weight down,” Woodson said of the sophomore forward. “The baby fat that he had last year has trimmed down. So you just got to tip your hat to him. He put the work in this summer and it’s paying off.”

Indiana’s defensive rebounding was disastrous

Ohio State entered Saturday’s game as one of the better offensive-rebounding teams in the Big Ten.

Indiana’s lackluster performance on the glass made the Buckeyes look like the best offensive rebounding team in the country.

Ohio State corralled more offensive rebounds in the game (22) than Indiana’s total of defensive rebounds (20). The Buckeyes scored 24 second-chance points in the loss.

The Hoosiers were fortunate that Ohio State missed several open 3-point looks off of offensive rebounds.

“You know, we just were so awful rebounding the ball tonight,” Woodson explained postgame. “They had good looks spraying the ball back out. It was just bouncing funny and we couldn’t come up with it.”

Indiana’s guards deserve credit for their work on Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle Jr.

After what Woodson called an “awful” performance against Nebraska by his backcourt, it was a major defensive bounce-back effort for Indiana’s guards against Ohio State.

Bruce Thornton and Roddy Gayle Jr. were averaging a combined 32.3 points per game entering Saturday’s game. The duo combined for just 18 points in Bloomington.

Thornton was 4-for-17 from the field and Gayle Jr. was 3-for-17. They were a combined 0-for-12 on 3s.

Some of it was the result of missing open looks. But Indiana’s defense was also better in terms of contesting shots.

It was a group effort as Johnson, Gunn and Trey Galloway took turns on Thornton and Gayle Jr., one of the best guard duos in the conference this season.

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