[Postgame 3-2-1] What We Learned From Indiana's Victory Against Minnesota
Here are three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana's Win against 74-62 victory Minnesota.
It may be too cold to do so outside, but last night was a much-needed breath of fresh air.
Indiana dominated a much-improved Minnesota team from the opening tip last night. Coming off a disappointing performance at Rutgers, a win in front of the home crowd is exactly what the doctor ordered for Mike Woodson and company.
“Our safe haven is here at home,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said in his postgame press conference. “We've got to continue to win our games here at home.”
You couldn’t ask for a better time for a performance like we saw last night, especially with Purdue coming into town next.
Gabe Cupps was inserted into the starting lineup for Xavier Johnson, who was serving his punishment for his flagrant-two foul in the Rutgers game, and gave the Hoosiers a solid 26 minutes.
The four other starters were in double figures. Kel’el Ware recorded his second straight double-double with 17 points and 14 rebounds.
A concerted group effort from the Hoosiers has them at 12-5 and 4-2 in Big Ten play.
Here are three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana’s win over Minnesota.
Did you miss yesterday's edition of the postgame show?
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3 Meaningful Stats
1. Mackenzie Mgbako set a new career high with 19 points.
In November, there were some folks who worried about how good Mackenzie would be at Indiana, but Mike Woodson assured us that the 5-star recruit’s time would come.
Mgbako has arrived in a big way for the Hoosiers over the last six weeks, and last night was no different.
The freshman scored 19 points on 6-12 shooting, including 2-4 from three and 5-7 from the free throw line.
“He got some good looks early that he made,” Woodson said. “I ran a couple plays for him that he was able to knock shots down, and the way they double-team, it opened him up on the backside, as well, to get shots.”
Mackenzie’s offense wasn’t the most impressive part of last night’s career performance.
Woodson had to keep Mgbako on the bench in critical stages of games during the non-conference slate because of his lack of defensive tenacity, but he hasn’t needed to as of late because has found his groove on defense.
“I feel like defense is the No. 1 thing he's been trying to harp on because I feel like defense creates offense, and that's really it,” Mgbako added.
Mackenzie finding his rhythm on both sides of the floor could pay dividends for the Hoosiers, as they will have one of their more prolific scorers on the floor in late-game situations.
The rookie will undoubtedly be the X-factor in Tuesday’s game against Purdue.
2. Four Hoosiers were in double figures.
Outside of Gabe Cupps, Indiana got everything they needed and more out of their starters last night when it came scoring.
In addition to Kel’el’s double-double and Mackenzie’s career-high performances, Malik added 16 points, while Trey Galloway tallied 10.
It was the eighth time this season that four Hoosiers were in double-figures, and Indiana is now 7-1 in those eight games.
“I thought our whole team was aggressive on both ends of the floor,” Woodson said.
An equal distribution of points makes every team dangerous, especially Indiana. The cream and crimson rarely find themselves victorious when relying on one or two guys to score the basketball.
Indiana will need contributions from everybody who steps on the floor in order to knock off a team as good as Purdue, especially in the scoring department.
3. Indiana scored 16 points off turnovers.
I’ve mentioned it many times before, but Indiana is a much better team when they are running the floor. It has worked nearly every time they have done it this season.
It all starts on defense. Indiana forced 14 Minnesota turnovers, leading to numerous opportunities in transition.
Despite Minnesota being the higher-rated team, last night felt like a game that Indiana needed to take care of business and win.
Minnesota guard Elijah Hawkins had been on a tear going into last night’s game, but a quick two fouls took him out of rhythm, and he wound up having his worst game of the season.
In his team-high 36 minutes, Hawkins scored 5 points on 2-12 shooting and an abysmal 1-8 from beyond the arc.
“Defense creates offense,” Mgbako said. “Just being aggressive on both sides of the floor is what created the win tonight.”