Indiana beat Little Rock 87-68 Wednesday night at Assembly Hall to improve to 5-0 this season.
Here are five aspects of winning the Trojans:
Race Thompson thrives on wearing a headband
It was announced before the tip that the Hoosiers would be without All-American forward Trayce Jackson-Davis. But without him, the Indiana court was fine.
Coming into Wednesday, Race Thompson got off to a slow start in IU’s first four games. The fifth-year senior entered Wednesday’s contest averaging 5.5 points and 4.8 rebounds. Against the Trojans, Thompson led Indiana in scoring with 20 points and rebounding with eight. Thompson did it all by shooting 7 of 8 from the field.
Thompson’s performance, however, was not without its scares. Midway through the first half Thompson caught an elbow in the side of his head and left the floor in a bloody mess. After heading to the locker room, Thompson reentered the game wearing a white armband to cover his injury.
At the last beep, part of the band covering his wound was stained a red tinge.
The injuries are piling up but there is no cause for concern yet
Thompson’s injury wasn’t the only one to happen in Wednesday’s game. Freshman forward Malik Reneau left the game in the first half after taking a bad fall. The Miami (Florida) native made a trip to the locker room but returned to the dugout with an ice pack and then went down again.
Indiana was without three scholarship players on the tip against Little Rock. Jackson-Davis was held as a precaution after experiencing back pain during Indiana’s win against Miami (OH) on Sunday.
“We’ll continue to evaluate him, he’s a little beat up…no big deal,” said Mike Woodson after the game. “We rested him tonight and will get him ready for, hopefully, Jackson State.”
Anthony Leal also sat out the Miami game with a leg injury. He was ruled out for Little Rock and wore a boot with an ankle injury. Trey Galloway missed his second straight game with a knee injury.
No timetable was given for a comeback for Jackson-Davis, Leal or Galloway.
Xavier Johnson’s consistent play continues
The second half belonged to Xavier Johnson. It may not have been the scoring performance he showed Xavier last Friday, but Johnson was once again consistent and in control against the Trojans.
The senior’s night finished with a season-high 10 assists and faced nine points. Johnson only turned the ball over twice and was fouled out in 29 minutes.
Johnson’s play has proven to be the X factor against Xavier and will surely continue to be so as the competition gets tougher.
“He’s able to do that and I expect him to, he’s our point guard,” Woodson said. “I thought he was solid … and he just started getting everyone else involved and making basketball games.”
Malik Reneau continues to be a threat after scoring
Of all the Indiana freshmen, Reneau has proven to be the most consistent and reliable thus far.
The forward was placed in Indiana’s starting lineup on Wednesday and shone despite a bad crash. Reneau finished the contest with 10 points and six rebounds in 18 minutes.
Reneau’s post activity and footwork are advanced for his class, and he’s given Thompson and Jackson-Davis a safety net off the bench this season. The long game will be key against better competition and allow for lineup flexibility, something Indiana hasn’t had in a while.
The Montverde product has scored in double figures in four games this season and shoots 62% from the field.
The 3-point shot continues to be Miller Kopp or bust
So far this season, Miller Kopp has shot 12-of-23 (52%) from beyond the arc. The rest of Indiana’s roster? 19 out of 62 from deep. It’s just over 30 percent.
This story was played out again against the Trojans. Kopp shot 3 for 6 of 3 and the rest of the Hoosiers were 3 for 14.
Indiana’s struggles beyond the arc have been a concern in the offseason and are proving to be a concern in the game. If Kopp has an offside, the Hoosiers haven’t had a guy who might be able to fill his shoes.
This shootout could fly against Little Rock and Jackson State, but it might not be between the Big Ten and against the next bluebloods IU has left on the non-conference schedule.
(photo copyright: IU Athletics)
Filed Under: Little Rock Trojans, Malik Reneau, Miller Kopp, Race Thompson, Xavier Johnson