Indiana men’s basketball got the job done against Merrimack College on Sunday in a performance where Indiana looked as if it was just a regular day of practice trying to get themselves warmed up.
Indiana started off slow in the opening minutes of the first half, allowing Merrimack to shoot 3-for-3 at the three-point line. Junior Ziggy Reid was the main spark for Merrimack, taking a brief lead and scoring nine-straight points from three-point land at the start of the first half.
Indiana’s defensive effort was flat and allowed Merrimack to make six of its 10 field goals coming from behind the arc. Indiana lost its intensity on defense because no one expected Merrimack to keep the score as close as it was heading into halftime.
No matter how good or terrible a team is, Indiana must remain aggressive on defense at all times to be a successful team come postseason.
The Hoosiers started to make up for their defensive errors, capitalizing on the offensive end against the Warriors’ ineffective zone defense. They picked the zone apart, getting everyone involved, including the front court duo of junior Trayce Jackson-Davis and senior Race Thompson.
Thompson has been constantly proving himself as one of the most-dominant big men in the Big Ten this year.
The frontcourt duo combined for 30 points to close out Merrimack, stretching the lead to 21 by the midpoint of the second half. Indiana is at its best when it gets the ball inside to Jackson-Davis and Thompson to create offensive opportunities.
Head coach Mike Woodson’s decision to empty the bench led to Indiana managing the last 10 minutes of the second half. Woodson continues to make all the right moves when it comes to making the best decisions on putting out an effective lineup.
Woodson wanted his players to be ready whenever their names were called, and this game was the perfect time for the bench to show what they could do.
Sophomore forward Jordan Geronimo had both 13 points and rebounds coming off the bench for Indiana. The presence of his energy and athleticism was too much for Merrimack to handle.
Freshman guard Tamar Bates and sophomore guard Anthony Leal contributed to the lead with both of them knocking down big three pointers.
Indiana definitely had their way with Merrimack on Sunday, but sadly, there won’t be many games this season where Woodson will empty his bench to work on his young-but-talented reserves.