Indiana men’s basketball cruised past the University of Louisiana at Lafayette on Sunday, 76-44, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall with another dominant defensive display pushing Indiana to 4-0.
With the win, Indiana head coach Mike Woodson became the first Indiana coach to start his first season in charge 4-0 since three-time NCAA champion Bob Knight during the 1971-72 season.
Indiana’s defense dictated the pace from the opening tip and never let Louisiana back within single-digits after jumping out to a 16-5 lead with 10:52 remaining in the first half.
The Hoosiers allowed just 14 first-half points, marking the lowest first half point total the program has allowed in the regular season since 2013.
Indiana shut down Louisiana in the paint and forced contested jump shots, only 14 of which went through the net. Louisiana shot just 19% from the floor, which is the lowest-ever opposing field goal percentage Indiana has allowed.
“I’ve got to give the players all the credit,” Woodson said. “It was really good tonight in terms of the pace and how we want to play.”
The Hoosiers got into early foul trouble, giving the Ragin’ Cajuns a lifeline by putting them in the bonus just eight minutes into the game, but they couldn’t take advantage. While the Ragin’ Cajuns struggled at the free-throw line with a 5-11 mark in the first half, the Hoosiers made the most of their chances and went a perfect 7-7 at the charity stripe.
Indiana had little trouble holding onto its 37-14 halftime lead and closing out Louisiana in the final 20 minutes of play. An efficient night on offense rolled over into the second half as Indiana shot 54% from the floor and 53% from deep.
Sophomore guard Parker Stewart, who has started all four games this season, put together his most effective shooting performance and led Indiana with 16 points. He shot 6-7 from the floor and accounted for four of Indiana’s 10 made 3-pointers.
“I know he’s capable,” Woodson said. “He was ready to shoot tonight, no hesitation. As we move down the road he’s going to have to do that for us.”
Woodson’s rotation was at its thinnest of the season Sunday. Senior guard Rob Phinisee was held out after suffering a leg injury against St. John’s University, while freshman center Logan Duncomb served the first of a three-game suspension for a violation of team rules. Sophomore guard Trey Galloway, who was also sidelined with a wrist injury sustained against St. John’s, is out indefinitely after undergoing a successful surgery.
Even without Indiana’s sixth man Phinisee, the bench unit didn’t miss a beat and scored 32 points.
Sophomore guard Khristian Lander and freshman guard Tamar Bates carried the brunt of the minutes available in Phinisee’s absence. Lander scored nine points to go along with a career-high six assists and six rebounds, while Bates was the only non-starter in double-digits with 10 points.
“I just think I’ve matured a whole lot,” Lander said about his start to the season. “Gotten my footwork a lot better, taking different angles. I just think it’s a whole lot more positivity around me this year with people encouraging me.”
Junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis and senior forward Race Thompson each played 19 minutes. Woodson rested the two for the majority of the second half, which opened up playing time for the rest of Indiana’s rotation players. Walk-on junior forward Nathan Childress played his first minutes of the season and scored his first career field goal on a 3-pointer.
Although it was a blowout performance for the Hoosiers, Woodson was upset with his team’s carelessness with possession, resulting in 27 turnovers, while in the lead. He said he will make sure the Hoosiers improve their ball security and look over mistakes in film sessions.
“It’s a lot of running that’s got to take place tomorrow,” Woodson said. “This is something we haven’t been accustomed to. The beauty about the film is it don’t lie.”
Indiana will have a day to reset before taking on Jackson State University at 7 p.m. Tuesday in Bloomington.