Sophomore forward OG Anunoby returned to the court in IU men's basketball's loss to Butler Saturday, but he wasn’t his usual high-flying self.
In his second game back after missing three games due to a high ankle sprain, Anunoby was back to normal against Delaware State.
The sophomore had a team-high 19 points and nine rebounds, helping IU throttle Delaware State 103-56 Monday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
After missing Anunoby for three games, the players knew just how valuable he was.
“We knew it would be hard without OG just because of everything he brings on the defensive end guarding multiple positions, rebounding the ball,” junior guard Robert Johnson said. “His versatility on offense. So we’re excited to have him back.”
Anunoby did it all against the Hornets, showing exactly why NBA draft pundits fell in love with him in the offseason. Coming off the bench for the second straight game, he swished his first shot of the night, a 3-pointer.
But where he dismantled the Hornets was from 2-point range. The sophomore hit all eight of his 2-point attempts and attacked the basket methodically. He wasn’t going to settle for mid-range attempts and knifed through the Hornet’s defense easily.
He credited the passing of his teammates for allowing him to be so ruthless from two.
“Just my teammates finding me,” Anunoby said. “And making it easy for me.”
Dazzling once again with his dunks, his athleticism was just too much for the Hornets to handle. Three of his eight made 2-pointers were dunks.
He diagnosed passing lanes and pounced multiple times, leading to easy points. In the game, he had three steals and continuously affected the Hornet’s passes.
His length was a contributing factor in IU holding Delaware State to an abysmal 33-percent shooting as the sophomore had a career-high four blocks.
“I think it’s very big,” Johnson said. “Especially when you have a guy back there like that. Like today he had four blocks. So when you know somebody can erase some of those mistakes if you’re out pressuring the ball and you get beat. It makes the defense that much more connected and allows the guards to pressure a little more.”
Anunoby certainly made his presence known on the defensive end.
In the time away from the game, he said he has had an opportunity to study what’s going out on the court.
“I got to watch film and look at my mistakes,” Anunoby said. “And look at the things I did right and look at things our team did right. And just try to fix some things we did wrong.”
Healthy once again, Anunoby showed exactly how valuable he could be for the Hoosiers when he’s at full strength.
“He played well tonight, that’s all I know,” IU Coach Tom Crean said. “I don’t think you learn a lot from being out. I think you learn a lot from practicing and playing, most importantly. So I think that showed up tonight. In his first game the other day, he played like it was his game back in some period of time at times. Tonight he played like he’s capable of.”