Big Ten preseason favorite Indiana looked the part in a dominant season-opening win on Monday night thanks to the Hoosiers’ fresh faces.
Sparked by a pair of freshmen — Malik Reneau and Jalen Hood-Schifino — the 13th-ranked Hoosiers flexed newfound depth and marched through Morehead State in a fashion that might have Bethune-Cookman on edge in the next game.
The teams will meet Thursday night in Bloomington, Ind., three nights after opposite results in season-opening efforts.
Reneau had 15 points and five rebounds flanking Big Ten Preseason Player of the Year pick Trayce Jackson-Davis (15 points, seven boards) in Indiana’s 88-53 walk-through win over Morehead State.
“He’s been solid ever since he put on the uniform. It’s kind of nice to see, man,” Indiana coach Mike Woodson said. “I told you, the freshman, him and Jalen, they don’t play like freshmen. They act like they belong.”
The Wildcats opened at Iowa with an 89-58 loss. Zion Harmon was 5 of 18 from the field, and Marcus Garrett missed nine of his 15 attempts while combining for 28 points.
They’ll have to contend with Indiana’s depth, a decided focus of the offseason after the Hoosiers crashed the Big Ten tournament and Jackson-Davis opted to bypass the NBA for now.
Jackson-Davis isn’t a traditional big man but is comfortable on the block and playing with his back to the basket. Woodson runs more set plays and adds NBA flavor to half-court sets in which Jackson-Davis thrives. Those pro-offense looks won’t rattle Bethune-Cookman, which is coached by Reggie Theus, who scored more than 19,000 points in the NBA.
While the Wildcats don’t match up with the Hoosiers well, Bethune-Cookman does have energy and scoring off the bench. Harmon did not start the game vs. Iowa, but he led Bethune-Cookman with 15 points and seven assists.
Indiana continues to focus on developing depth and getting its freshmen up to speed for a rigorous schedule.
“We are deeper this season than we were last season. Again, everybody was new last year,” Woodson said. “I was new. Those guys last season were trying to figure me out, and the guys that came back kind of know who I am now. Now it’s just getting the four freshmen up to speed. Again, I like everything about our freshmen because they are competitive. They compete. They like to compete. We’re longer. More athletic than we were last season.”
–Field Level Media