At 6-0 and following a recent win over its toughest nonconference opponent thus far, Louisiana Tech, Indiana is rolling.
The Hoosiers will have the opportunity to continue their undefeated season as well as build upon their momentum with a home test against South Dakota State on Saturday afternoon.
The matchup with the Jackrabbits will mark the final game against a low-major opponent for the Hoosiers for the rest of the season. After Saturday, Indiana will play 24 straight games against high-major competition.
Like Louisiana Tech, South Dakota State is an opponent that deserves Indiana’s attention and should not be overlooked. The Jackrabbits’ KenPom rating isn’t close to as high as the Bulldogs, but they are the only other low-major opponent IU plays that has a top 200 KenPom rating and a winning record at 6-3.
South Dakota State has played three high-major teams thus far, all on the road, losing handedly to USC and Nebraska, but challenged No. 14 Arizona and only lost by seven. Additionally, South Dakota State has plenty of recent experience in the NCAA Tournament. They missed the big dance a season ago, but have made it the three seasons prior to that.
Let’s take a closer look at the Jackrabbits and what the Hoosiers can do to counter.
Limiting Douglas Wilson
A year ago, for South Dakota State the man to watch out for was Mike Daum, the three-time Summit League player of the year. Daum has graduated, though, and Douglas Wilson has taken the reins as the Jackrabbits’ top player.
Wilson is a junior and in his first year with the Jackrabbits. He transferred to South Dakota State after playing two years with Kirkwood Community College in Iowa where he won the 2018-2019 NJCAA National Championship and National Player of the Year.
Wilson has not missed a beat in translating his game to the Division I level, leading the team in scoring. He averages 17.8 points per game while boasting a 60.8 field goal percentage. The 6-foot-7 forward also is hauling in 7.8 rebounds per game.
Indiana will try to limit Wilson’s touches around the basket as much as possible. Wilson does not extend his scoring range to deep jumpers as he has missed all three of his 3-point attempts this year. Indiana might be more considerate to foul Wilson when he gets good position inside as he struggles from the charity stripe. He has only converted a little under 65 percent of his free throws.
This game offers Indiana an opportunity to let its post players have a lot of freedom operating around the basket on both ends of the floor.
As a whole, South Dakota State does not have a ton of height compared to Indiana. The Jackrabbits have six players who range between 6-foot-6 to 6-foot-8, but they have nobody taller than that. Of the two 6-foot-8 players, only of them, Matt Dentlinger, starts while the other Alou Dillon, plays sparingly.
6-0 and back to the grind today. pic.twitter.com/2WfN5YrAAb
— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) November 26, 2019
With the lack of height compared to Indiana’s post guys, this could be a game that Indiana dominates on the low block. This opportunity is especially appealing for De’Ron Davis and Joey Brunk who are 6-foot-10 and 6-foot-11, respectively.
Brunk has found his rhythm as of late, reaching double-digit scoring in the past two games and a season-high 16 points against Princeton. This could be a game for Davis to find a similar rhythm and momentum to Brunk. Davis has struggled to find any consistency this season, averaging two points per game and only playing a little over nine minutes per game.
Entering the game as second in the nation in scoring at 90.2 points per game, Indiana’s offense has been very strong in the young season. Part of this is due to some increased pace of play in head coach Archie Miller’s offense, but also the number of weapons Indiana has scoring the ball.
South Dakota State has the ability to put up big numbers offensively, but its offensive output isn’t quite as high as Indiana. The Jackrabbits’ average hovers at a respectable 77.8 points per game.
The Hoosiers should look to keep putting up big scoring numbers by spreading the ball around offensively. Four Indiana players average double-digit points every contest, including senior guard Devonte Green who in his three games back has quickly asserted himself. He is ramping up his production too, averaging 16 points in his past two games.
Additionally, Indiana is getting good production out of its bench. Nine of Indiana’s 11 scholarship players have found themselves scoring double digits at least once this year. Sophomore forward Damezi Anderson has chipped in 6.2 points per game but is playing well as of late, already matching the total 31 points he scored all of last year through six games this season.
Indiana should look to keep its scoring up by getting to the free-throw line as well. This has been something the Hoosiers have excelled at all year, leading the country in both free throws converted per game (23.3) and attempted (30.8).