[Postgame 3-2-1] What We Learned From Indiana's Gutsy Win Over Iowa
Here are three key stats, two observations, and one lingering question from Indiana's 74-68 victory against Iowa.
There aren’t many things better than the morning after an Indiana victory.
After three straight losses, it is well past time to celebrate.
Indiana defeated Iowa on the back of yet another Kel’el Ware double-double. The transfer from Oregon provided 23 points and 10 boards in his first game back from injury.
“We were missing his length and ability to block shots,” head coach Mike Woodson said. “We just didn't have it.”
Last night’s victory marked Mike Woodson’s first over Fran McCaffery and Iowa, which has undoubtedly been on Woodson’s mind, especially with all of the drama we have seen in recent games.
“Fran has kind of had his way with this ball club,” said Woodson. “They're always well-coached and they get after you.”
Indiana improves to 5-5 in the Big Ten and 13-8 overall.
Did you miss yesterday's edition of the postgame show?
The Assembly Call is a reader-supported publication. To receive new posts and support our work, consider becoming a free or paid subscriber.
3 Meaningful Stats
1. The Hoosiers swatted away eight Hawkeye shots
After missing the last two games with a right ankle injury, Kel’el Ware returned to play last night, and made Iowa’s night anything but heaven in the paint.
The Hawkeyes went into last night’s game shooting 51% on 2s during Big Ten play. Indiana held Iowa to just 39% in last night’s ballgame.
Ware’s presence in the paint deterred Big Ten freshman of the year candidate Owen Freeman all night long. Freeman had a quiet night with just four points and two boards.
Indiana does an excellent job using their size to their advantage. With Kel’el missing the past two games, they didn’t have the opportunity to use that size.
“We needed him back in the worst way,” head coach Mike Woodson said of Ware’s performance. “Games like this, man, it's huge for our ball club.”
Indiana has a tough road ahead to even get on the bubble of the NCAA tournament, but it is imperative that the Hoosiers dominate the paint in as many of their remaining games as possible.
2. Indiana made eight 3s.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that Fran’s defense (or lack thereof) helped Indiana get back on track from deep.
It took Indiana a whopping 52 seconds to surpass their 3-point total from Saturday’s debacle from deep in Champaign.
The Hoosiers made five 3s in the first 12 minutes of the game, but went 16 minutes without making another one.
This is concerning because Indiana stopped attempting the 3s they had been taking and making earlier in the ballgame.
Iowa gave the cream and crimson open looks, and Indiana was drilling them early. The philosophy should always be that if you’re making the shots, you should keep taking them.
The biggest 3 of the night came from an unlikely source: Gabe Cupps. The freshman hit a three with 1:28 left in the game to give the Indiana the lead back for good.
“I'm here to work, here to get better,” Cupps said. “I think that allows me to trust myself and also for my teammates to trust me.”
3. Mackenzie Mgbako shot 4/17 from the field.
After his first career double-double, Mackenzie played his least-efficient game in an Indiana uniform, but it didn’t start that way.
Mgbako hit a pair of triples in the game’s opening minutes, but was mostly quiet afterwards.
The freshman finished with 11 points and collected three rebounds in 23 minutes on the court.
At times, it felt like we had rewound back to November when Mike Woodson would sit Mgbako during crunch time for defensive reasons. Last night, Woodson went offense/defense between Mgbako and Cupps — and credit to the coaching staff because it worked.
“We still gotta get Mack better from a defensive standpoint because I think he got lost a few times, and that's not to knock on him,” Woodson said. “That kid's come a long way since we started with him, and I just gotta help him more.”
Tough games happen in sports, and it has been a long time since Mackenzie had this little impact on a game. Given his trajectory, this may provide to be the low water mark for Mackenzie moving forward. His offense continues to be more assertive, even if the shooting percentages haven’t quite caught up yet. (They will.)