BLOOMINGTON -- Indiana’s defense was smothering throughout its 76-44 win over Louisiana on Sunday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
The offense, meanwhile, remains a work in progress.
IU broke out shooting the basketball, going 53.8% from the floor and 52.9% from 3-point range (10-of-19) with a season-high 10 3-pointers. But IU’s 27 turnovers were somewhat of a cause for concern for Indiana coach Mike Woodson. The goal, Woodson said, is 12 or fewer turnovers a game.
“There’s a lot of running that’s going to take place tomorrow,” Woodson said. “But at the end of the day this is something that we haven’t been accustomed to doing, and I’m a little disappointed about that. Our point guards had eight between them.”
IU did score a high percentage of its baskets (28) off assists (22), so the ball movement was feast or famine. Scoring-wise, IU got a big lift from grad transfer guard Parker Stewart, who made his first six shot attempts, including his first four from 3-point range, to finish with a team-high 16 points. Stewart finished the night 6-of-7 from the field.
“I saw Parker in one of our exhibition games shoot it like that,” Woodson said. “I know he’s capable. I’ve seen him in practice do it as well. He was ready to shoot tonight, and there was no hesitation. He caught it, and he let it go.”
Trayce Jackson-Davis added 11 points and seven rebounds, and freshman guard Tamar Bates gave IU another lift off the bench with 10 points. With Rob Phinisee out with a leg injury, sophomore point guard Khristian Lander took advantage of increased playing time, finishing with nine points, six rebounds and six assists in 24 minutes. Lander did wind up with four of IU’s 27 turnovers.
“I’ve always said next man up,” Woodson said. “He hasn’t played a lot, but he was ready to play. I thought he gave us some positive minutes, did a lot of good things on both ends of the floor. We just got to get him running our ballclub a little bit better and taking pride in not turning the ball over.”
With starting point guard Xavier Johnson picking up two fouls, Lander played 13 minutes in the first half and flashed his five-star ability, finishing with six points, two rebounds and two assists.
“I knew I had to step up this game and play some pretty big minutes,” Lander said. “I just felt like the work that I’ve been putting in has been paying off. I was comfortable, cool, calm and collected.”
IU’s defense was the story of the first half, as the Hoosiers held Louisiana to just 11.8% shooting from the floor (4-for-34) to build a 37-14 halftime lead. The 14 points were the fewest IU had allowed in a half since giving up 13 to SIU-Edwardsville on Nov. 11, 2004.
“I’ve got to give the players all of the credit,” Woodson said. “They are paying attention to detail, especially when they are game-prepping for opponent, and they are going out and executing it.”
Inside, IU was able to bottle up Louisiana big men Jordan Brown and Theo Akwuba. The 6-foot-11 Brown, a transfer from Arizona, scored 10 points on 3-of-15 shooting. Akwuba, who picked up two first-half fouls, had just nine points.
“From a pick-and-roll standpoint, our pick-and-roll defense has been pretty good because our bigs are active and able to be up, and we are demanding our guards get into the ball and take onus on guarding the ball,” Woodson said. “It kind of goes hand in hand.”
In addition to Phinisee being out, swingman Trey Galloway was out after suffering a broken wrist during the hard foul he sustained Wednesday night against St. John’s. Freshman center Logan Duncomb served the first of a three-game suspension for violation of team rules.