No. 13 Indiana men’s basketball routed Bethune-Cookman University 101-49 in its second game of the season. Coming off a strong, yet incomplete performance against Morehead State University on Nov. 7, the Hoosiers mended many of their previous wounds and capitalized on their strengths. They exceeded expectations in several different areas, and there were multiple facets contributing to the dominant win.
Head coach Mike Woodson emphasized his disappointment with the Hoosiers’ 12-21 free-throw shooting performance after the season-opener against Morehead State. In Thursday night’s outing, Indiana looked like a completely different squad.
The Hoosiers shot a remarkable 94.1% from the foul line, sinking 21 out of 22 attempts. Freshman forward Kaleb Banks sank all six of his shots, and freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino and graduate guard Xavier Johnson made four each.
“You've got to go up to the line with that mentality that you're going to step up and knock it down,” junior guard Trey Galloway said. “We've been really focused on taking free throws seriously during practice. Just knocking them down is what matters.”
Indiana outshot Bethune-Cookman from the line by a vast margin. The Wildcats attempted their first free throw with 6:36 left in the second half and made six out of 13 total on the night.
Indiana has lacked strength from beyond the arc in recent years, struggling to find a go-to, knockdown guy in its times of need. Graduate guard Miller Kopp came to Indiana last season hoping to be just that. Except, his performance was often lackluster, and a hot shooting streak never lasted long.
Kopp has flipped the script during the young 2022-23 campaign, shooting nine-for-11 in Indiana’s two exhibition and two regular season games and 4-for-6 from the 3-point line Thursday night.
“Going into the off-season was big for me,” Kopp said. “Just focusing on getting reps and being cognitive of how big, mentally, shooting is.”
Kopp was the ringleader behind an Indiana offense that shot 41.7% from the 3-point line, knocking down 10 in total. Galloway hit two, and Johnson, freshman forward Malik Reneau, junior forward Jordan Geronimo and sophomore guard Tamar Bates all hit one of their own.
“It makes a big difference — being able to split out the floor and make shots,” Galloway said. “Shooting the ball with confidence is a big thing for us, because we know we've got guys that can make shots.”
Pesky perimeter defense
Johnson shined on the defensive side of the floor, leading an aggressive, lockdown Hoosier attack. Indiana forced 19 Bethune-Cookman turnovers, three of which were shot-clock violations. The Hoosiers also recorded 10 steals, with two from both Geronimo and Galloway.
Woodson, who was mentored by Indiana legend and defensive savant Bobby Knight, praised his team’s efforts in shutting down the Bethune-Cookman offense.
“If you defend and rebound, you're going to be in every game,” Woodson. “If you don't turn it over and at least get shots and you defend and rebound the ball, you give yourself a chance to win every night you step out on the floor. Our defense was solid last year, and it's been a nice carryover into this early season.”
Despite an off-shooting night from Hood-Schifino, his offensive presence was invaluable. He ended the game with the highest +/- on the team, 34, and eight assists. Hood-Schifino's greatest asset against Bethune-Cookman came from pushing the ball in transition to give his teammates easy, open looks.
“When he's got the ball in his hands, he makes the right play, the right reads,” Galloway said of Hood-Schifino. “He's going to continue to make those plays when we need him to. I think he did a great job of that, just finding guys in transition like Miller, finding open guys, finding me. He's doing a good job of pushing it and pushing the pace for sure.”
Indiana ended the night with 27 assists on 35 made field goals. Many of those shots were highlight plays: aggressive dunks, nifty layups and quick-release 3-pointers mere seconds after Bethune-Cookman committed a turnover.
“I mentioned to these guys going into this game that we should average 20 to 25 assists a game,” Woodson said. “If you're unselfish and a guy is open, you've got to give him the ball. Tonight, we shared it, and it didn't hurt us that we made shots from the perimeter, and we made our free throws.”
After an eight-day sabbatical, Indiana will return to the court to face Xavier University in Cincinnati, Ohio, Nov. 18 as part of the Gavitt Games. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m., and the game will be broadcast on FS1.