Five takeaways from Indiana’s win against Iowa

  • 01/31/2024 9:36 am in

Indiana snapped a three-game losing streak with a 74-68 win against Iowa on Tuesday at Assembly Hall.

Here are five takeaways from the win against the Hawkeyes:

A gutty performance from Kel’el Ware

Kel’el Ware hadn’t practiced much before Tuesday’s game as he recovered from an ankle injury that forced him to miss games at Wisconsin and Illinois.

On the pregame radio show with Don Fischer, Mike Woodson said he wasn’t sure how many minutes Ware would be able to play. But when Malik Reneau went down in the opening minutes with a foot injury, it became clear that keeping Ware on the floor would be essential for the Hoosiers.

Clearly not at 100 percent health with a limp at times, Ware gutted it out for 35 minutes in the win.

The 7-foot sophomore was 8-for-10 from the field, 6-for-11 from the free throw line and finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds. He had five offensive rebounds, three blocked shots and IU was +13 with him on the floor. He even showed some emotion, which has been rare with his quiet personality.

“We’ve kind of coached him into playing better, playing with a little more energy,” Woodson said. “And I thought tonight was — he actually showed some emotion. I mean, one time — hadn’t seen that all pretty much all year with him, but it was kind of nice to see.”

Anthony Leal delivers in 22 minutes off the bench

After not seeing the floor against Minnesota, Purdue or Wisconsin, Woodson went to Anthony Leal off the bench at Illinois for extended minutes.

Leal logged 16 solid minutes against the Fighting Illini, minutes Woodson said the fourth-year senior had earned from his work in practice.

The Bloomington South product was back on the floor Tuesday night and delivered his most impactful performance yet in an IU uniform.

Leal shot 4-for-6 from the field, made a trio of 3-pointers and finished with 13 points in 22 minutes. He also had seven rebounds and played solid defense.

“I gave him the game ball after the game. I thought he was huge — 13 points, seven rebounds,” Woodson said of Leal. “I mean, defended his ass off. It was a nice carry-over because I thought he played well in the Illinois game.”

Indiana dominates Iowa on the glass

The Hoosiers have been a below-average rebounding team all season. But Iowa also struggles on the glass and Indiana took advantage Tuesday night.

Indiana grabbed 38.2 percent of its missed shots and outscored Iowa 15-4 on second-chance points. It was the third-best offensive rebounding performance of the season.

Overall, Indiana had 13 more rebounds than Iowa and it was a full team effort. Ware had 10, Leal had seven and Trey Galloway also had seven.

Fran McCaffery quickly pointed out postgame that his two big men, Owen Freeman and Ben Krikke, combined for just five rebounds.

“If you give this team (Indiana) second and third shot opportunities, they’re going to be really tough to beat,” McCaffery said. “We got outrebounded by 13. Makes it really hard.”

Gabe Cupps delivers a late-game dagger

Freshman Gabe Cupps has watched his minutes dwindle since the return of Xavier Johnson from a foot injury.

But as Johnson went down with an arm injury at the 2:12 mark, Cupps had his number called to finish the game.

With 1:26 to play, Galloway found Cupps wide open on the left wing for a 3-point look. Cupps didn’t hesitate and connected to put the Hoosiers ahead, 69-68. Indiana didn’t relinquish the lead from there.

“He loves the game. He loves the school, and he works really, really hard,” Leal said of the freshman. “He’s always in here. So it’s just a testament to the work that he puts in and the confidence in himself.”

It was the ninth made 3-pointer of the season for Cupps, who is shooting 40.9 percent from distance. It’s a part of his game he’ll need to use more often as his career progresses.

Hoosiers get hot from the perimeter

After not connecting from distance in Saturday’s loss at Illinois, Indiana took more 3s in Tuesday’s win.

The Hoosiers attempted just nine 3s in the loss at Illinois but got up 22 attempts from distance against the Hawkeyes. Indiana made eight of them, good for 36.4 percent.

The production came from several sources. Leal hit three triples, Mgbako hit two and Johnson, Ware and Cupps each hit one.

It was just the fourth time Indiana has made eight or more 3s in a game this season.

Overall, the Hoosiers are shooting 35 percent from the perimeter in conference games, but just 27.5 percent of their field goal attempts in Big Ten play have been 3s.

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