BLOOMINGTON – Indiana has not played perfect basketball this season, but one consistent feature so far has been defensive intensity. The Hoosiers are making life difficult for opposing offenses and that continued against North Alabama in the first 20 minutes today.
The Lions missed their first six shots from the field and at halftime are shooting an abysmal 25%. They are 2 for 13 from beyond the arc and they aren't missing a lot of open looks, either. Indiana has simply shut down a lot of what the under-sized Lions want to do offensively and the hosts lead 40-24 at halftime as a result. Indiana has also forced seven turnovers, most of which have been of the live-ball variety, giving the Hoosiers a chance to get out in transition. After four years of building his team, coach Archie Miller finally seems to have the kind of swarming defense that he wants.
The rest of Indiana's first-half performance was much less dominant. The Hoosiers missed five of their first six attempts from the field and despite a late spurt are shooting only 46% at halftime. Trayce Jackson-Davis, coming off a terrific game against Florida State, has had difficulty getting untracked as the Lions have sent extra defenders in his direction and made it difficult for him to catch the ball in the post. He still has 12 points on 3-for-5 shooting, however, and it's good to see him working to get the ball and bullying his way to the rim against an overmatched Lions front line. Indiana is moving the ball relatively well on offense, working it inside and then back out, but 3-pointers aren't really falling again (the Hoosiers are only 4 for 13, despite making three in quick succession near the end of the half) and Indiana is also missing foul shots when it bullies its way into the lane, going 12 for 22 at the charity stripe.
Indiana's best offense has been on the fast break, led by freshman Trey Galloway. The Culver graduate is once again showing why he's getting by far the most minutes of any of the IU freshmen, pushing the ball out in transition every time he touches the ball. He provided the highlight of the first half when he got the ball on the break, took two giants steps to the rim and threw down a massive dunk over a couple of flailing North Alabama would-be defenders. Galloway has nine points on 4 for 4 from the field.
Despite Galloway's spark off bench, Indiana's offense has been middling at best and that's probably being generous. The Hoosiers have turned the ball over 11 times and have gotten somewhat lucky that the Lions have been able to take better advantage of those giveaways, scoring just eight points off turnovers. Miller inserted Jordan Geronimo into the lineup for the first time in a few games to try to find some kind of spark, but that didn't really help much, either (though he get a steal and buzzer-beating layup before the half). The plain fact is that Indiana's half-court offense is Jackson-Davis and not a whole lot else at the moment. That's not going to cut it against Big Ten teams, but it will probably be enough to win today.