The Maui Invitational officially begins on the mainland with opening round games played at campus sites, including No. 15 IU playing host to Austin Peay Monday night in the second meeting ever between the two schools.
IU (1-0) knocked off Eastern Illinois, 88-49, Friday, Austin Peay (0-1) opened its season with an 80-41 loss to No. 18 Vanderbilt, a potential second round opponent for IU in the Maui Invitational.
“We expect a much better team when they come here on Monday,” IU associate head coach Tim Buckley said Saturday.
Regardless of the internal expectations regarding the quality of opponent Austin Peay factors to be, IU enters the game as a heavy favorite. The Hoosiers are projected to win 88-64, according to
Buckley said he expects Austin Peay to go inside to senior center Chris Horton, who scored seven points and grabbed 14 rebounds against Vanderbilt. The 6-foot-8 Horton averaged a double-double last season while leading the Governors in points, rebounds, steals and blocks per game.
“He’s their experienced guy,” Buckley said. “Try to run you up the lane a little bit, throw the lob, use their athleticism. I think they’ll get on the offensive glass pretty hard.”
IU dominated the boards in its season opener, out-rebounding Eastern Illinois 51-17. The Hoosiers limited the Panthers’ second-chance opportunities, surrendering just five offensive rebounds on the night.
Guards Josh Robinson and Khalil Davis will be assigned the task of trying to slow down IU’s high-powered backcourt on defense while keeping pace with the Hoosiers offensively. The duo, who individually averaged nearly 10 points per game last season, can stretch the floor and score at multiple levels.
“They’ve got some guys in Davis and Robinson who can score from the outside, can shoot the three,” Buckley said. “They can also take you off the dribble. It’ll be another defensive challenge for us inside and outside.”
Part of IU’s defensive focus will be playing stingy defense without fouling, after being whistled for 23 fouls Friday. The Hoosiers, like every team in college basketball, are adjusting to the new rule changes in the sport.
“I would say that there are things that we obviously need to keep getting better at, we need to clean up,” Buckley said. He identified active hands, quick feet and good body positioning as areas of emphasis for IU.
“Positioning I think is key, especially with the way the whistle is going to blow this year,” he said. “You’re going to have to be in the right spot, you’ve got to get there quickly, you’ve got to be ready to show your hands and do a good job of keeping people out of the lane.”
IU’s season-long defensive goals revolve around defensive field goal percentage. As a team, the Hoosiers want to keep their opponents at 39.9 percent shooting or lower from the field and 30 percent or worse from three. They accomplished both in their season opener.
IU gets an opportunity to do so again Monday against Austin Peay as it gears up for Creighton on Thursday and the Maui Invitational next week.
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