Backed by trust in each other, Indiana beats Minnesota 70-58 for third straight win

  • 03/07/2024 7:56 am in

Strong defense. Reliable scoring. Perseverance. Determination. Confidence.

All are things you need to be a successful basketball team.

Another thing you need? Trust.

Trust in yourself, your teammates, and the game plan. Trust that shots will fall, passes will find their destinations and the right decisions will be made. A team that trusts each other is a team that is connected and can win important games.

Right now, that team is Indiana.

Wednesday night, the Hoosiers trusted each other. Because of that, they took down Minnesota 70-58 at Williams Arena for their third straight victory and fourth win on the road this season.

“It was a total team effort from the beginning,” Mike Woodson said postgame.

Often, a quality like trust can’t be quantified. You typically see it in body language and facial expressions, not on a stat sheet. So when it does show up numerically, everyone takes notice.

That’s why Indiana’s 28 assists on 30 made shots sent shockwaves across the fanbase. Beyond simply being a new season-high for the Hoosiers, it highlighted the team’s connectivity and willingness to play unselfishly and find the best possible shot.

“Everybody was sacrificing the ball and playing unselfish, and we made shots behind the pass,” Woodson said. “And that helps a lot.”

Trey Galloway was the driving force behind Indiana’s offensive success, dishing out 11 assists on the night, marking the third time this season Galloway’s assists have been in double figures. By scoring 13 points, Galloway also recorded the first double-double of his collegiate career.

Want another example of how trust won the game for Indiana? Look no further than Kel’el Ware’s game. He was the principal benefactor of Galloway’s impressive court vision, scoring 26 points and grabbing 11 rebounds for his 13th double-double of the season. The chemistry between Galloway and Ware has been one of the most significant factors contributing to Indiana’s recent success, and Wednesday night was no different.

“Coach trusts me with the ball in my hands, for me to make plays,” Galloway said. “And I know I can go out there and make plays to get my teammates involved.”

However, Galloway wasn’t the only player Woodson put his faith in Wednesday night. Once again, there was plenty of faith in Ware.

The big man got called for his second foul with just under nine minutes to go in the first half and, by all accounts, could have been sent to the bench. After all, that’s what Woodson has typically done in the past. But Ware stayed in. Admittedly, it was likely at least partly out of necessity on Woodson’s part as Malik Reneau was already on the bench with two fouls.

Regardless, Ware took advantage of his time on the floor. He didn’t let up, continuing to drive in for buckets and rebounds. He played smart and it paid off; Ware finished the first half with game-highs in points, with 12, and rebounds, with eight.

“He didn’t let it affect him,” Woodson said. “He kept playing.”

A successful team requires trust among players and coaching staff alike. However, it also requires players to trust themselves and their abilities. For that, look to Mackenzie Mgbako. The freshman has become one of Indiana’s biggest pieces on offense with his ability to make 3-pointers and drive in the lane to the basket alike. Against the Gophers, he scored 15 points and shot 3-of-4 from the perimeter. All three 3-pointers came in the second half.

“He’s just stuck with it,” Galloway said. “He’s continued to work and really just be open to getting better, and he’s found ways to get better offensively and defensively.”

Mgbako’s self-confidence has skyrocketed lately, as he has played a crucial role in building Indiana’s three-game win streak. He has been unafraid to take shots, even when he misses, and the Hoosiers have benefited from it.

“He’s a shot-maker, he can make a lot of shots, and that’s what we told him to keep doing,” Galloway said. “We needed him to make shots, and he did.”

There are a lot of reasons as to why Indiana beat Minnesota Wednesday night. Both teams played sloppily at times, Minnesota just more so. The Gophers couldn’t make shots, especially from the perimeter, and the Hoosiers stood strong defensively. Indiana dominated in the paint, shared the ball and played up-tempo.

But above all, the Hoosiers believed in each other. They called on each other to make the right decisions and come through in big moments, and they did. They were able to move past early sloppiness and silly mistakes and come out with an important win as the regular season comes to a close. Whether or not that trust will be enough to carry Indiana to success in the postseason remains to be seen, but it certainly won’t hurt.

(Photo credit: IU Athletics)

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