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Jalen Hood-Schifino plays defense during Indiana's win over Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 20. (HN photo/Max Wood)
Jalen Hood-Schifino plays defense during Indiana's win over Miami (Ohio) on Nov. 20. (HN photo/Max Wood)

Tommy's Three Takeaways: What can we learn from IU's play against weaker competition?

The Hoosiers will have to cut out the slow starts, and soon

Indiana basketball used a dominant second half to roll past the Miami Redhawks with a final score of 86-56. The Hoosiers will be back in action at Assembly Hall on Wednesday when the Little Rock Trojans come to Bloomington.

IU will wrap up the Hoosier Classic with Little Rock along with Jackson State before an enormous test in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge, where they will face the No. 1-ranked North Carolina Tar Heels. The Hoosiers need to clear up a few things in these next two games before they will need to play a flawless game in order to defeat UNC. Here’s what I took away from Sunday’s contest.

This is the Jalen-Hood Schifino we need to see every night

Last Friday night against Xavier, Hood-Schifino only scored three points, going 1-for-9 from the field. His shot selection was very uncharacteristic and he did not play as confident as he had the previous two games. But on Sunday night against Miami (OH), Hoosier fans saw a Hood-Schifino who could be the X-factor IU needs this season. He scored 12 points on 5-for-12 shooting with five rebounds.

Hood-Schifino did a much better job against the Redhawks of getting to his go-to shot, which is right at the elbow for a pull-up jump shot. But what I was most impressed with the star freshman was the way he crashed the offensive glass. This will only make IU better if Hood-Schifino can get these easy put-back baskets, especially from a freshman guard.

Trust the bench

Mike Woodson did not play a lot of his bench last Friday night against Xavier. Guys such as Tamar Bates and Jordan Geronimo did not see as much action as they did in the previous two games. If the Hoosiers want to accomplish the things they want to accomplish and beat some of these elite teams on their schedule, they need to be able to play their bench more.

And Sunday’s game gave Hoosier fans hope to believe in the players off their bench. Yes, Miami (OH) is much more of an inferior opponent than Xavier is right now, but the bench players still showed flashes on both sides of the ball, which goes a long way in college basketball. Whether it’s Geronimo recording five blocks, or Malik Reneau getting three steals, this bench needs as many minutes as possible before IU will face much more elite competition.

Slow starts like this will not work on Nov. 30

For the fourth game in a row, it seemed like IU didn’t come out hot right out of the gate. The Hoosiers were sloppy with the ball, left Redhawks open for shots, and were missing wide open looks that should be automatic makes. It seemed like the last 25 minutes of the game, the Hoosiers completely dominated, and looked like a whole new team that earlier in the game.

I’d like to see this team play with the same energy it had in the final five minutes of the first half onward for the entirety of the games against Little Rock and Jackson State. Early starts like this down the road are going to be detrimental to this team, and a strong second half won’t be enough to win the game when North Carolina comes to town.

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