Five takeaways from Indiana’s win at Maryland

  • 03/04/2024 8:53 am in

Indiana erased a 16-point second half deficit to beat Maryland 83-78 on Sunday afternoon at the Xfinity Center. The win improved the Hoosiers to 16-13 overall and 8-10 in Big Ten play with two regular season games remaining.

Here are five takeaways from the victory against the Terrapins:

Mackenzie Mgbako dominated in the second half

Indiana freshman wing Mackenzie Mgbako played his best half of basketball over the final 20 minutes in College Park.

After a first half where he shot just 2-for-7 in 14 minutes, Mgbako had an offensive explosion down the stretch against Maryland.

The 6-foot-8 freshman scored 18 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. Mgbako played all 20 minutes in the second half. Some of Mgbako’s damage came in transition as Maryland struggled to find him on the break. And IU also ran more action to free up Mgbako, realizing he had the hot hand.

“Well, he made shots, and once he started to make shots, we started running plays to direct the ball to him a little bit more,” Mike Woodson said postgame.

Mgbako finished an efficient 8-for-15 from the field, including a 4-for-8 performance from 3-point range. He was also 4-for-4 from the free throw line.

Indiana made 3-pointers and free throws at a high percentage

Making shots at a high percentage from 3 and the free throw line has alluded Indiana for most of the season. In a surprising performance on Sunday afternoon, the Hoosiers shot it well from distance and the line.

Indiana was 7-for-16 (43.8 percent) on 3s and 14-for-17 from the free throw line (82.4 percent).

In addition to Mgbako’s stellar 4-for-8 3-point shooting performance, three other Hoosiers each made a timely 3-pointer. Gabe Cupps made his only triple early in the game. Xavier Johnson and Anthony Leal made back-to-back 3s in the first half to tie the game.

“It’s something that we’ve lacked this season,” Woodson said. “We’ve struggled to put the ball in the hole. Tonight, it all came together a little bit.”

The free throw shooting was equally crucial for Indiana.

While Maryland shot a stellar 9-for-10 from the line, Indiana got to the line for seven more attempts than the Terps. And the Hoosiers, the worst free throw shooting team in the conference, cashed in on their opportunities at the stripe. Six different Hoosiers made a free throw in the win.

The backcourt delivers

IU’s backcourt play has been underwhelming this season, but the duo of Trey Galloway and Xavier Johnson delivered when it mattered in Sunday’s win.

Johnson played nearly the entire second half and finished with 13 points, six assists, three rebounds and just one turnover.

Galloway also stuffed the stat sheet with 12 points, five rebounds, four assists, two steals and two turnovers in 38 minutes.

“I just thought that ‘X’ was Xavier Johnson,” Woodson said. “He did a lot of good things on the floor from a defensive standpoint and controlled the game out front with him and (Trey Galloway), our two seniors. I’ve missed that this season, I really have.”

With Johnson playing one of his best games of the season, it allowed Indiana to have two scoring and facilitating threats in the backcourt on the floor simultaneously.

“It was as well as they’ve played together since I’ve had them together,” Woodson added. “These were probably two best games they’ve had. To see them play together tonight and lead like they did as seniors, that was kind of nice.”

The second half was Indiana’s best 20 minutes of the season

Indiana’s offensive numbers in the second half were remarkable.

Against one of the Big Ten’s best defenses in Maryland, the Hoosiers put up 50 points. Indiana shot a sizzling 19-for-26 (73.1 percent) from the field.

The Hoosiers scored on 24 of their 34 second half possessions and had 1.47 points per possession after halftime.

Indiana also did a much better job taking care of the ball in the second half, committing just five turnovers after nine in the first half.

But it wouldn’t have been a complete performance if the Hoosiers didn’t back up the offensive outburst with a solid defensive effort. After allowing 43 points in the first half, IU was much more sharp defensively in the second half.

Maryland shot just 44.8 percent in the final 20 minutes.

“I thought tonight we played a terrible first half but we never quit,” Woodson said. “We came out in the second half, and I thought defensively we were tremendous.”

Indiana played better the last two games, but the season is still a major disappointment

The Hoosiers have given the fanbase something to cheer about in the last two games. A home win against Wisconsin and a road victory against Maryland are solid outcomes.

Indiana still has two regular season games left and a chance to rewrite the narrative in the Big Ten tournament.

But winning two games late in the season doesn’t change the fact that Indiana has underachieved in Woodson’s third year.

The Hoosiers are fighting to stay out of a Wednesday’s game in the conference tournament and can finish no better than .500 in Big Ten play. Those aren’t facts to be celebrated in Bloomington.

At No. 95 KenPom and No. 101 in the NCAA’s NET rankings, the program is far from even being considered for the NCAA tournament.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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