To say Friday’s game was a roller coaster for Hoosier fans is an understatement. It felt like there were many opportunities where Indiana had the game won, and that the game would slip away at the same time. Nevertheless, IU won 81-79 to improve to 3-0 on the season with Miami of Ohio next on the schedule on Sunday in Indianapolis.
In November basketball, it’s always good when you get a win against a team like Xavier and know that you can improve from this game. Indiana certainly has a lot to learn from this game, but getting a win in a tough place to play in the Cintas Center will pay great dividends at the end of the season. Here are some other things I took away from Friday night.
IU’s rebounding in the second half needs to be the standard
It felt like in the first half Xavier got many second chances, which was a main reason they were able to score the way they did. Even the guards such as Souley Boum and Colby Jones would grab rebounds to give the Musketeers on the offensive end.
But in the second half, IU seemed to completely flip the switch rebounding the ball. Malik Reneau was enormous, grabbing missed shots and going on strong to the basket to help IU gain the lead. The Hoosiers grabbed 12 offensive rebounds on Friday night, the most they’ve had in a game thus far. Rebounding this well needs to be the new standard for this team, as they certainly have the talent to make that happen.
Others need to step up besides Trayce Jackson-Davis and Xavier Johnson on the road
Trayce Jackson-Davis and Xavier Johnson came up huge for the Hoosiers last night, combining for 53 of the team’s 81 points. As good as these two are, there will come a time in the season where they have an off night and the Hoosiers will need someone else either in the starting lineup or off the bench to help with the scoring.
Malik Reneau helped with that, adding 12 points and six rebounds to the stat sheet. But the Hoosiers also need a guard such as Trey Galloway, Tamar Bates or Jalen Hood-Schifino to help the backcourt and take some pressure off Indiana’s talented frontcourt. I know it’s just one game, but IU will find itself in serious trouble if it cannot get more guys to score consistently in these big-time road games.
A win is a win
Yes, IU did not look like the team Hoosier fans know that they are capable of being, and this team certainly has a lot to work on before some of the elite teams they will face throughout their non conference schedule. But for this group’s first road test and playing at a place where Xavier had a seven-game winning streak going, a win is all that matters.
Sometimes teams need wake-up calls to help them see what still needs work before some big non conference games leading to IU’s Big Ten schedule beginning in two weeks. Sunday’s game in Indianapolis against Miami of Ohio should be interesting, as Indiana looks to build off the confidence from Friday night’s win in Cincinnati.