NEW YORK — Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers aspire to raise a title banner one day at Assembly Hall. On Sunday, at Woodson’s former stomping grounds, IU found out they have a long way to go before meeting the level of last year’s defending champs.
Thanks to a suffocating defense and strong guard play, the UConn Huskies (4-0) defeated the Indiana Hoosiers (3-1), 77-57, at Madison Square Garden. Malik Reneau led the Hoosiers with 18 points and three blocked shots.
Mike Woodson started the day with Johnson, Trey Galloway, Mackenzie Mgbako, Malik Reneau, and Ware on the floor once again. There was some uncertainty revolving around Johnson’s status, but he was available and ready to go.
Both teams needed an adjustment process at the start, figuring out how to manage adrenaline as well as the step up in size, strength, and speed from their first power conference opponent of the year.
Ware was integral in getting IU off and running in NYC. He stood out on both ends of the floor, knocking down a three, grabbing multiple rebounds, and managing the matchup against opposing star center Donavan Clingan.
Johnson, who suffered an injury late vs. Wright St., picked up two early fouls and sat at the 17:49 mark. Woodson put him back into the game with UConn up 16-11, but the senior guard picked up a third within a minute of re-entering. UConn’s guards started to impose themselves.
Tristen Newton, one of two UConn graduate-level players in their backcourt, hit a couple of tough baskets to create some separation against the Hoosiers. When Newton wasn’t impacting the game, it was forward Alex Karaban that bothered the Hoosiers. Newton and Karaban each reached double figures before halftime.
Malik Reneau was instrumental in helping the Hoosiers stay in the game against a top-five team. He made six of seven shots, as well as three free throws, before the 20 minutes elapsed. Woodson played him for 18 minutes in the first half alone. When he twisted inside for a score just before halftime, IU had cut down the Huskies’ lead to seven.
Indiana’s issues rebounding the basketball continued to pester them throughout the game. While Ware led Indiana with eight boards, no other Hoosier had more than three. Foul trouble became a bigger problem as well. Reneau, who had two fouls in the first half, picked up a third and a fourth infraction in a 50-second span before the 15-minute mark.
The Hoosiers made one final push before the Huskies’ killer instinct sealed the game. With 7:38 to go, Galloway nailed a three to bring IU within 58-48. Galloway played 36 minutes and was the only IU guard in double figures.
IU fans made up the majority of the crowd at Madison Square Garden, but Rutgers transfer Cam Spencer silenced them quickly with five straight points to put the Huskies back up 15.
Woodson and the Hoosiers had no answers over the final seven minutes. Offensive possessions frequently went one-and-done, while the Huskies would either score or head to the foul line.
UConn coach Dan Hurley started rolling in players from the end of his bench over the final three minutes, including his son, Andrew. Apostolos Roumoglou hit a three with 1:55 left to give UConn as 24-point lead, their largest of the game. Anthony Walker and CJ Gunn made a couple buckets at the end to make the scoreline a little less lopsided.
Indiana will play another game at Madison Square Garden, as they will face the loser of the Texas/Louisville game. Tip is scheduled for 4:30p ET on ESPNU.
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