BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Eight minutes into IU’s season, Morehead State led the Hoosiers 21-20. The preseason Big Ten favorites took over from there.
Thanks to a suffocating defense and a balanced scoring effort, led by preseason All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis and true freshman Malik Reneau, Indiana (1-0) knocked off Morehead State (0-1), 88-53. Jackson-Davis and Reneau paced the Hoosiers with 15 points each.
Indiana kicked off its 123rd season with a home opener against the Morehead State Eagles on a Monday night, one of 200 games involving Division I men’s college basketball teams on the first night of the season. The Hoosiers, coming off two blow-out exhibition victories, were ranked 13th in the preseason AP Poll. They held up the standard tonight.
The five starters for the Hoosiers were Xavier Johnson, Jalen Hood-Schifino, Miller Kopp, Race Thompson, and Jackson-Davis.
Jackson-Davis made an immediate and energetic impact. In the first three minutes, he won the tip-off, and fought for an offensive board to assist a Race Thompson slam. TJD then tallied a steal and threw down a jam of his own.
The Hoosiers started strong and dominated scoring down low, with 28-of-41 of their first half points coming in the paint.
The Eagles made it difficult for the Hoosiers, playing a full-court press and keeping the game within two points for the first 12 minutes. Guard Mark Freeman, a transfer from Tennessee State and Illinois State, dropped in 14 quick points before exiting with an ankle injury.
The Hoosiers turned things around with some big steals and forced turnovers, giving up only five TOs and forcing 13 before halftime. Morehead St. scored at just .806 PPP in the first half and had a stretch of 13 missed shots in 15 attempts.
The second rotation included Tamar Bates, Malik Reneau, Trey Galloway, and Jordan Geronimo, with Hood-Schifino orchestrating. This lineup went on a 12-0 run giving the Hoosiers separation. Johnson found himself in early foul trouble, tallying two in the first 10 minutes. He was substituted and didn’t re-enter until the second half.
Indiana struggled to shoot free throws again, going 4/10 from the line. The Hoosiers led after the first 41-29.
In the second half, the Hoosiers picked up where they left off and forced their way into the paint. Thompson and Kopp hit a couple of early threes to ensure a strong start.
Morehead State errors, Kopp’s perimeter shooting, and Reneau’s paint confidence, on both sides of the ball, gave the Hoosiers a 25-point lead midway through the second half.
The Hoosiers’ free-throw shooting was not as big of a problem in the second half. IU shot 8-of-11 (72.7%) after the break, finishing 12-of-21 (57.1%). The Hoosiers also stepped it up from three, knocking down 3-of-7 after halftime and ending the game at 4-of-11 (36%).
As the lead grew, the Hoosiers’ means of scoring became more creative. Jordan Geronimo and Tamar Bates took their turns at the rim, throwing it down in style.
C.J. Gunn and Kaleb Banks made their first career appearances in the closing stages. Both players scored to officially open their accounts as a Hoosier. IU closed the game allowing just three baskets on 14 attempts, punctuating a strong defensive performance.
IU’s next regular season game is Thursday, Nov. 7, vs. Bethune-Cookman on BTN. Tip will take place at 8:30 ET.
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