[Postgame 3-2-1] What We Learned From Indiana's Win Against Ohio State
Here are three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana's 76-73 comeback victory in Columbus.
After trailing by a dozen with seven minutes left in the game, Indiana scratched and clawed their way back to win on the road for the first time since beating Michigan in December.
After the Penn State loss, many had doubts about how the team would respond on the road.
“Everybody out there playing tonight knew what was at stake tonight,” Mike Woodson said. “It was our defense and rebounding and making good offensive decisions coming down the stretch that allowed us to come out of here with a win.”
It was ugly for 30 minutes, but the final 10 minutes was some of the most inspiring basketball this team has played in a while.
“We didn’t quit,” Woodson said of last night’s second-half surge. “We just kept fighting and fighting.”
With last night’s victory, Indiana improves to 14-9 and 6-6 in conference play.
Now here are three stats, two observations, and one lingering question on my mind while trying to come down from the excitement of that comeback win.
Did you miss yesterday's edition of the postgame show?
The Assembly Call is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support ourwork, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
3 Meaningful Stats
1. Indiana collected 12 offensive boards.
When Indiana beat Ohio State a month ago, the Buckeyes nearly out-rebounded the Hoosiers with their offensive boards alone.
Last night was quite the opposite.
“That was the big emphasis coming in,” Woodson said. “At our place it wasn’t even close and we knew we had to come and try and win the rebound game and we did.”
Indiana convincingly beat Ohio State on the glass, 36-30. On top of that, the Hoosiers only allowed seven offensive boards, which pales in comparison to the 22 they allowed last month.
The Hoosiers utilized those 12 offensive rebounds to tally 14 second-chance points. The Buckeyes only scored seven second-chance points after putting up 24 in the previous game against IU.
Indiana hasn’t improved in many areas this season, but since the first meeting with the Buckeyes, the Hoosiers have been much better at grabbing rebounds.
2. Malik Reneau had a career-high 14 rebounds.
This season has been rough for the players, but Malik has quickly become one of the easiest people to root for on Indiana.
As Jerod mentioned on Twitter last night, this is what a sophomore leap looks like. It continued tonight for Malik, as he showed his dominance again with 26 points and 14 rebounds.
Early in the second half, Malik got a technical after an uncalled goaltending. This could’ve spiraled out of control for him, but he told reporters after the game that he apologized to his team and moved on.
“He didn’t stop playing,” Woodson said in high praise of the sophomore’s performance. “He had to move onto the next play and I thought he did that.”
Trey Galloway was incredible, and Anthony Leal made tons of big plays down the stretch, but Malik’s fiery response to get the tech was the first instance of emotion any Indiana player had shown since the Iowa win. It seemed to spark the team in the second half.
“He’s ultra-talented,” Anthony Leal said postgame “He is also impossible to guard.”
It will be difficult to keep Malik off the all-Big Ten first team this season if he continues his dominant play.
3. Kel’el Ware played 10 minutes in the first half.
Given where Indiana stands, fouling out one of your best players because he picked up two fouls in the first half seems misguided.
Indiana might not have been in the hole they were in at the half if Woodson didn’t sit the big fella for so long.
There is nothing to lose at this point of the season.
Ware didn’t have a good night by any stretch of the imagination, finishing with six points on 3-10 shooting and only one rebound. His best games usually come when he starts off the game hot.
And just because Indiana won last night despite sitting Ware so long in the first half while an opponent lead was building doesn’t mean it is advisable moving forward. This cannot happen on Saturday up at Mackey. Ware needs to be on the floor when Zach Edey is on the floor, regardless of the foul situation, for as long as the game is competitive.
Indiana already has all of the cards stacked against them, so there is no reason Ware should be sitting on the bench for 10 minutes in such a big game.
2 Important Observations
1. Trey Galloway and Malik Reneau willed the team back into the game.
After last night’s performance, these two should be the captains for the remainder of the season.
The two mainstay starters combined for 51 of Indiana’s 76 points last night and made massive plays down the stretch to push their team over the hump.
Coach Woodson has talked about getting his team over the proverbial hump and needing his leaders to step up, and last night we saw both happen.
“Our seniors can’t hide,” Woodson said. “I thought Gallo was huge tonight.”
Galloway, who scored 25 points on 9-15 shooting, was playing with confidence and moxie that we haven’t seen since the Kansas game.
“It’s huge coming out with that win.” Reneau said. “I have no words for it, man. It was just a great moment.”
If Indiana wants to use Tuesday’s victory to turn around their season, it will be on the back of Galloway and Reneau having dominant performances like we saw last night.
2. Anthony Leal has earned the opportunity to start at Purdue.
After drilling the game-winning three in last night’s game, Anthony Leal has solidified himself as someone Mike Woodson can trust in big-time situations.
Woodson alluded to the fact that the play wasn’t set up for Leal to take the shot, and that shouldn’t be a surprise to anybody based on how Galloway and Reneau were playing down the stretch; however, when Indiana needed a bucket at the most significant point in the game, it was Anthony Leal.
“My confidence level is he’s on the floor,” Woodson said of Leal’s late minutes. “He delivered for us.”
Leal scored the last five points, including a pair of big free throws to seal the deal for Indiana.
Saturday’s game at Mackey is the biggest game of Indiana’s season, and there is one person in particular who deserves his shot to be a starter in that game: Anthony Leal.
He is an Indiana kid who has proven that he can provide meaningful minutes for his team. It is time to give the hometown hero his chance.
1 Lingering Question
Where has that effort in the second half been all year?
With the effort and fight Indiana showed last night to crawl back from an 18-point deficit, you have to wonder why we don’t consistently see this from the Hoosiers.
It was all about the mentality last night for Indiana. According to Malik Reneau, the Hoosiers set goals for media timeouts in the second half—credit to the players and coaches for setting and reaching those goals last night.
“Just chipping at the lead, slowly but surely,” Reneau said of the second half mentality. “Just taking it one possession at a time.”
This leads to the lingering question: why can’t Indiana consistently play with the same energy and intensity as we did in the final 10 minutes of last night’s game?
Some of it may stem from Indiana having such a narrow path to victory on most nights, especially when Xavier Johnson is injured. On days when things just aren’t working, especially in disadvantageous matchups, the Hoosiers often wilt without a Plan B to grasp onto. That’s what we saw against Penn State.
But last night, Indiana was getting good shots all game long. And Ohio State wasn’t exactly playing with its hair on fire even while building their 18-point lead. The Hoosiers were able to maintain their confidence and connection to the gameplan because it never actually stopped working; they just got locked in and started executing better and converting at a higher rate.
Plus, this team seems to really respond when Anthony Leal makes an impact on the game, like he did against Iowa but was unable to against Penn State.
It shouldn’t have come to it, being down 18 points, but this team could have packed it in at that point. They didn’t, and that’s enough to give any Indiana fan at least some hope that the Hoosiers will be able to go up to West Lafayette and compete for 40 minutes on Saturday night — something that did not happen when the two teams met up in Bloomington.
Thanks for reading!
Make sure you vote in the postgame polls for Game Ball and Hoosier Hustle Award, and leave your takeaways on last night’s game.
We’ll be back to talk IU hoops again with you for sure on Saturday night after IU-Purdue. AC Radio will NOT be held at its regularly scheduled time due to a conflict with the women’s team, so Doing The Work will be live on Thursday night instead.
If we reschedule AC Radio, we’ll let you know.
The Assembly Call