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Tuesday, May 21
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

COLUMN: Indiana men’s basketball turns Rutgers frustration into Minnesota dominance

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Nearly 75 minutes before Friday night’s tipoff against Minnesota, Indiana senior guard Trey Galloway rebounded his own missed free throw before slinging the ball off the backboard in frustration. 

An hour and a half later, Galloway soared through the air, caught a pass from freshman forward Mackenzie Mgbako and threw down a monstrous alley-oop dunk. 

Galloway turned left, eyes on the student section, mouth open, vocalizing the release of the angst the last three days have brought following Indiana’s 66-57 loss to Rutgers on Tuesday. 

With his slam, Galloway gave the Hoosiers a 22-8 lead over the Golden Gophers with 12:44 to play in the first half, putting an exclamation point on an explosive start. 

Indiana (12-5, 4-2 Big Ten) never relinquished its advantage, taking a convincing 74-62 victory over Minnesota (12-4, 3-2 Big Ten) inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. 

The Hoosiers have made a habit of taking uninspiring losses and rebounding strong in their next opportunity. After all but one of its defeats, Indiana’s won its ensuing contest. 

Since returning to Big Ten play full time Jan. 3, the Hoosiers have lost a pair of road games in uninspiring fashion, first an 86-70 loss to Nebraska on Jan. 3 and again Jan. 9 in Piscataway, New Jersey. 

But in the immediate aftermath, Indiana found itself comfortable at home, beating Ohio State on Jan. 6 in Assembly Hall and giving Minnesota its first loss since Dec. 3. 

From turnovers and rebounding to shooting and defensive rotations, the Hoosiers have battled several woes – but when at home, they’re able to minimize the mistakes and produce confidence-inspiring performances like Friday night. 

“You seen the intensity in the game — from this game and the Rutgers game,” sophomore center Kel’el Ware said postgame. “I feel like if we bring out the intensity we had at the start of this game and even throughout the game to every game, I feel like we'll be good.” 

Ware posted his seventh double-double of the season, scoring 17 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. He was one of four Indiana starters to reach double figures, as Mgbako notched 19 points, sophomore forward Malik Reneau followed with 16 and Galloway added 10. 

The Hoosiers’ point guard play remains suspect, as sixth-year senior Xavier Johnson scored just 2 points while freshman Gabe Cupps failed to make an indent in the scoring column despite playing 30 minutes. 

Still, Indiana righted its turnover wrongs from the loss to Rutgers, going from 18 giveaways against the Scarlet Knights to just 10 versus the Golden Gophers. 

Despite being outrebounded 42-40, the Hoosiers were also much improved on the glass after losing the margin by a combined 33 boards over the past two games. 

Indiana struggled once more at the foul line, following up its worst performance under head coach Mike Woodson – a 26.7% outing against Rutgers – by hitting a mere 59.3% Friday night. 

Regardless, the free throw blunders don’t overrule an otherwise growth-filled showing for Woodson’s squad. 

“Tonight, we didn't make our free throws again, but we rebounded pretty well, and we didn't turn it over,” Woodson said. “We kept our turnovers down. It was a solid game. But we've got to somehow convert how we play here at home on the road. That's going to be the difference moving forward.” 

Woodson noted life on the road in the Big Ten has been challenging for everyone; Wisconsin is the lone team without a blemish away from home this season. 

Indiana’s now 3-0 at home in conference play, with Woodson dubbing Assembly Hall a safe haven, and it’ll need to continue racking up victories should the road struggles continue. 

Fixing those issues has naturally been an emphasis since returning to Bloomington from Piscataway, with the Hoosiers enduring intense practices leading into Friday. 

“The last few days of practice, it's been hard going at each other because we've just got to get better on defense and offense,” Ware said. “Y'all seen a glimpse of that tonight, and we've just got to keep bringing it every game.” 

The result was a complete victory, during which Indiana led for all but 18 seconds and was never truly threatened, leading by as many as 21 points in the second half. 

Now, Woodson and the Hoosiers turn their sights towards Purdue, with the No. 1 Boilermakers entering Assembly Hall for a 7 p.m. tipoff Tuesday night. 

Indiana’s 9-1 at home this season, with its lone loss coming to then-No. 2 University of Kansas on Dec. 16. The Hoosiers have beaten the Boilermakers each of their past two years in Assembly Hall and are 3-1 against their rivals under Woodson. 

But if only for the night, Indiana feels as if its season is back on track – with frustration nowhere near the forefront of emotions. 

“It was a total team effort tonight,” Woodson said. 

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Press (@MattPress23) and columnist Daniel Flick (@ByDanielFlick) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season.

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