Senior forward Miller Kopp’s celebrations after his 3-point shots were largely subdued, limited to fist pumps and points to his teammates. His confidence, however, wasn’t limited at all.
Led by Kopp’s four 3-pointers, Indiana men’s basketball cruised to a 101-49 drubbing of Bethune-Cookman University on Thursday night.
Indiana buckled down from beyond the arc. Eight players took a 3-pointer attempt. In the first half alone, the Hoosiers shot and made more 3-pointers than they did in the whole season opener.
"Just shooting the ball with confidence is a big thing for us because we know we've got guys that can make shots,” junior guard Trey Galloway said. “So just continuous repetition of that and having guys be ready to step up and knock it down.”
Between good passing — all ten 3-pointers were assisted — and willingness to shoot, Indiana may have shown an ability to overcome one of its biggest weaknesses. The Hoosiers shot 10-of-24 from beyond the arc, one shy of their season high last year, and made eight in the first half alone.
“Tonight, we shared it, and it didn't hurt us that we made shots from the perimeter,” head coach Mike Woodson said.
The efficiency was spread around the offense. Junior forward Jordan Geronimo, who made one 3-pointer, only made nine of 29 attempts last season. Galloway made two, already a third of his season total from last year. Freshman forward Malik Reneau even made his first career 3-pointer.
More importantly, Kopp, who transferred from Northwestern to Indiana in the hopes of becoming the Hoosiers’ specialist from deep, made 4-of-6 from 3-point range — a number he reached only twice last season. Kopp had 12 points, and through two games and two exhibitions, is 9-for-11 from 3-point range.
After struggling last season and shooting just 36% from beyond the arc, Kopp’s return to efficiency this season wasn’t a given. But behind the scenes, Kopp worked on his shot.
“He's put in a lot of time this summer shooting the basketball,” Woodson said. “When we all got together, he was making them in practice. So, I'm not shocked that he's making them now in the game. He's in a good space mentally.”
Kopp said he put major focus on repetition this summer to smooth out his shooting stroke. Just as big was his focus on the mental side of the game.
“I did a lot of work on my golf swing this summer and tried to get outside and get tan a lot,” Kopp said. “So mentally I think that helped.”
The barrage was again led by the bench. Galloway and Geronimo teamed up for three consecutive 3-pointers amid a 15-0 run early in the first half. This is the second example this week of Indiana’s bench going on a long run to energize the starters and Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
The bench had five total 3-pointers.
By spreading the floor, the Hoosiers also unlocked the path for their big men. Senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis led the way with 21 points in 21 minutes without needing to break much of a sweat. Reneau added nine points, including his 3-pointer.
When starting guards Xavier Johnson and Jalen Hood-Schifino, who combined for 14 assists, drove to the basket, they were able to kick the ball out wide to a shooter on the perimeter.
When the ball was on the perimeter, Indiana’s shooting drew out Bethune-Cookman defenders, leaving Jackson-Davis open down low.
“The short period that I've been in college as a coach, I truly believe you've got to have good point guard play and perimeter play to win at a high level,” Woodson said. “X has come into his own. I thought he proved that at the end of last season. And Jalen is still learning, but I think he's ahead of schedule in terms of how he's performed for us on the floor.”
Indiana will look to continue its efficient shooting when it heads on the road for the first time this season to play Xavier University at 6 p.m. Nov. 10 in Cincinnati, Ohio.
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