Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss at Wisconsin

  • 01/20/2024 8:55 am in

Indiana suffered a third-straight road loss, falling 91-79 on Friday night to Wisconsin at the Kohl Center.

Here are five takeaways from the loss to the Badgers:

Indiana’s defense was nonexistent

Wisconsin entered Friday’s game with one of the top offenses in the country. The Badgers are a balanced offensive team that can score in various ways.

But Indiana’s defensive performance at the Kohl Center put up no resistance. Wisconsin did whatever it wanted when it wanted.

The Badgers hung 91 points on Indiana and scored 1.403 points per possession. From an efficiency standpoint, it was worse than the Auburn game, where the Hoosiers lost by 28 and allowed the Tigers to score 1.399.

Wisconsin shot 69.2 percent on 2s, 47.7 percent on 3s and got to the free throw line 29 times, connecting on 86.2 percent of their attempts.

To win on the road in the Big Ten, defense is essential. On Friday night in Madison, the Hoosiers played none.

In year three, Indiana’s defensive metrics continue to slide under Mike Woodson. Through 19 games, the Hoosiers rank 88th nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency, according to KenPom.

Continued flagrant fouls show a lack of discipline

For the third time in four games, Indiana was called for a flagrant foul. And for the second straight road game, the Hoosiers had a player ejected for a flagrant two foul.

Friday’s “flare up,” as Woodson called it on his postgame radio interview with Don Fischer, came from CJ Gunn.

Fourth-year guard Max Klesmit rubbed his head on Gunn near the Wisconsin bench in the second half. Rather than refusing to take the bait from Klesmit, Gunn retaliated with an elbow to his head.

The play was promptly reviewed and Gunn was ejected.

While Gunn’s ejection wasn’t a factor in the outcome – he was 0-for-1 with no rebounds or assists in the five minutes he spent on the floor – it was just the latest example of Indiana’s lack of discipline as a team.

When the going gets tough, Indiana doesn’t dig in. Instead, the Hoosiers crack mentally and, in the case of Gunn or Johnson recently, resort to cheap shots rather than responding with their play.

19 games in, Indiana isn’t showing much progress

When asked in his postgame press conference on Friday about things that can change or improve this season, Woodson offered little explanation.

“Keep working. All we can do is keep working,” he said.

It was a similar response to the one Woodson gave over a month ago following the loss to Auburn. The explanation was non-descriptive when asked what the Hoosiers had worked on with a week off following a 28-point beatdown.

“We come back to practice and we work, we work,” the third-year IU coach said. “That’s the only way you going to get better.”

With the season more than halfway over, it’s clear Woodson hasn’t found the answer to improving this team. The Hoosiers have fallen to No. 96 in the KenPom ratings and No. 99 in the NET and aren’t even in the postseason conversation.

“We’re a new team and I’m not using that as an excuse,” Woodson said Friday night. “You got 10 new players and we’re still trying to figure each other out.”

Time is running out for Woodson and these Hoosiers to figure things out. Despite its poor construction, there’s enough talent on the roster to be better than this.

Malik Reneau delivers 28 points in 40-minute effort

With Kel’el Ware sidelined due to an ankle injury, Malik Reneau took on a bigger load against the Badgers.

Reneau logged 40 minutes – a career-high – and had one of the best games of his career.

The smooth 6-foot-9 lefty scored a game-high 28 points on 12-for-21 shooting from the field. Reneau made a 3-pointer, went 3-for-4 from the line and grabbed eight rebounds.

After an up-and-down freshman season, Reneau is the brightest spot on this team.

He’s played in all 19 games and is averaging a team-best 16.5 points to go along with 6.1 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 29.9 minutes per game. And he’s been efficient. Reneau is making 60.1 percent of his 2s and 40.6 percent of his 3s.

Indiana wastes its best offensive performance yet in Big Ten play

The Hoosiers were clicking offensively against the Badgers in the second half.

Indiana shot 18-for-27 from the field in the second half, including a 5-for-9 mark on 3s and a 12-for-15 performance from the free throw line. The Hoosiers only turned it over four times.

The result was 53 points after intermission.

Reneau was spectacular, scoring 20 of his 28 points. And Mgbako was good, too, as 15 of his 18 points came after halftime.

The 1.22 points per possession were Indiana’s best in a conference game this season. And yet, it didn’t matter because of the porous defensive effort.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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