It wasn’t always pretty but Indiana grabbed its 6th victory of the season on Monday against Louisiana Tech. For the second straight game, the Hoosiers had a 20 minute stretch of great offensive play and a 20 minute stretch where the offense seemed to stall and sputter, unable to find a rhythm amid droughts of poor offensive possessions. Still, IU has shown an ability to score in a variety of ways and, despite the optics, sport some of the best offensive statistics in the nation.

Next up, the Hoosiers welcome South Dakota State for a post-Thanksgiving weekend matinee.

How to Watch

WhoIndiana Hoosiers vs. South Dakota State Jackrabbits
WhenSaturday | November 30, 2019 | 4:00 p.m. ET
WhereSimon Skjodt Assembly Hall – Bloomington, Ind.
TicketsFind the Lowest Ticket Prices on SeatGeak
StatsLive Stats
ListenIU Radio Network

Getting to Know the Jackrabbits

At the time of publication, the Jackrabbits sit at 5-3 and will have another game tonight against Samford before heading to Bloomington. All three of their losses have come to Power 5 teams: USC, Nebraska, and No. 14 Arizona. SDSU’s performance against Arizona was particularly impressive. The Jackrabbits were leading by 10 at halftime and only lost by 7 after a late comeback from the Wildcats. After the game, Arizona coach Sean Miller praised SDSU for their ability to execute and scolded his team for being outsmarted by the Jackrabbits.

South Dakota State has been a powerhouse of the Summit League over recent years. The Jackrabbits have won 70 games over the last three years and secured back-to-back conference titles. The Jackrabbits are coming off of a 24 victory season but the program has undergone several changes over the off-season.

Despite their recent run of success, this season marks a new beginning for South Dakota State under the newly promoted first-year head coach Eric Henderson and with the departure of one of the best players in school history, Mike Daum. With TJ Otzelberger leaving the program for UNLV after three very successful seasons with the Jackrabbits, South Dakota State chose to elevate Henderson to lead the team because of his player development skills and familiarity with the region (Henderson served as an assistant not only for South Dakota State but also North Dakota State).

South Dakota State’s year hinges primarily on one burning question: how will the team fill Mike Daum’s void? Averaging 25.3 points and 11.7 rebounds per game, Daum was one of the most productive players in all of college basketball last year and a do-it-all juggernaut for South Dakota State. Despite having a lot of fresh faces on the roster, the Jackrabbits seem to be coping fairly well so far with Daum’s departure.

More than half of the roster is comprised of players who did not see the floor for SDSU last season. The squad has three transfers, two true freshman, and three players who were on the team but did not play last season because of redshirting.

Two of those players have been particularly impactful during the early part of the season. Doug Wilson was the 2018-2019 NJCAA (junior college) player of the year and has quickly asserted himself as the go-to player for the Jackrabbits. Wilson is averaging 16.3 points and 7.5 rebounds per game while shooting 60.5% from the field. However, Wilson also leads the team in turnovers (3.4) and personal fouls (2.8) per game.

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The 5’10” guard Brandon Key has also been a spark plug for the Jackrabbits this season. Key redshirted last season due to a personal matter but has not missed a beat, improving in almost every statistical category from his 2017-2018 season. Key is currently averaging 12.4 points, 4.3 assists, and 3.1 rebounds per game.

Offensively, the Jackrabbits are averaging 76.8 points per game. SDSU has taken the 14th most shots in the nation but are only 91st in field-goal percentage. The team does not take many three-pointers. In fact, SDSU has taken three times as many two-point field goals as three-pointers. The Jackrabbits, however, are one of the best rebounding teams in the country. SDSU is fourth overall in total rebounds and are averaging 42.4 boards per game.

Defensively, SDSU gives up 72.3 points per game and allows opponents to shoot 39.1% from the field. The team is extremely effective on the defensive boards, collecting the fourth most defensive rebounds in the nation.

Projected Starting Lineups

South Dakota StateIndiana
G: #0 Brandon KeyG: #1 Al Durham
G: #11 Noah FreidelG: #2 Armaan Franklin
G: #34 Alex AriansF: #3 Justin Smith
F: #35 Doug WilsonF: #4 Trayce Jackson-Davis
F: #32 Matt DentlingerC: #50 Joey Brunk

What to Watch for

1. Battle on the boards

One area where South Dakota State succeeds is rebounding. SDSU is 4th overall in the nation while the Hoosiers sit at 155th. It’s important to note that these numbers are a little misleading because SDSU has played two more games than IU. Still, on a per game basis, the Jackrabbits are putting up impressive rebounding numbers. SDSU is averaging 42.4 boards per game, three more per game than Indiana’s 39.8 clip. Who will win the battle on the boards on Saturday? Can Indiana’s post-presence continue to outplay their opponents or will the Jackrabbits out-hustle the Hoosiers for rebounds?

2. Indiana’s continued offensive developmennt

While the Hoosiers have had stretches of sloppy play and poor decision-making, the offense as a whole has been extremely productive and one of the most efficient in all of college basketball.

IU is currently averaging 90.2 points per game, which is 2nd in the nation. Furthermore, while the team has struggled beyond the arc, Indiana has been outstanding shooting overall with a 53.0% field-goal percentage (3rd in the nation). The squad is also 8th in the country in two-point field-goal percentage at 60.2%. Overall, KenPom has Indiana ranked 24th in adjusted offensive efficiency. The Hoosiers should be able to continue this impressive offensive start to the season against SDSU, who has struggled on the defensive end. The Jackrabbits give up 72.3 points per game (252nd) and have allowed opponents to shoot 39.1% from the field (100th). Expect Indiana to continue its blistering pace and put up big numbers against SDSU.

3. Whistle-bells ring, are you listening?

Indiana is one of the best teams in college basketball at getting to the free-throw line. The Hoosiers are 8th overall in free-throws attempted and 4th overall in free-throws made. Even though the team is mediocre at making free-throws (hovering around 75%), the sheer number of attempts has led to a great deal of easy points. This trend is likely to continue this weekend as South Dakota State has been giving up a little over 19 free-throws per game.

4. Tying back-to-back good halves

In Indiana’s last game against Louisiana Tech, the Hoosiers relied heavily on their impressive first half performance to carry them to a victory at the final buzzer; however, by no means was the game pretty in the second segment.

So far during this short season, Indiana has had one sole game, which was against Troy, where their energy level and aggressive-mindset last the entire 40-minutes. Indiana’s staff has to find out what makes certain halves slower. Do adjustments by opponents fluster the Hoosiers who are relatively young compared to the rest of the league? What causes the Hoosiers to not play great on-ball defense and allow opposing guards to drive by without contention?

While the issue isn’t surmountable in November, the Hoosiers will very soon play tougher teams where consistency will be a concern.

5. Extending the defensive time of possession

During the post-game press conference against Louisiana Tech, Archie Miller was critical of his team’s second half performance, stating that the team is nowhere near where they need to be defensively. Given Indiana’s size, this roster of mostly non-scorers are going to succeed by playing suffocating defense.

We know that Miller is looking to mimic a Virginia-level of defense, where opponents should be denied every driving lane except the paint and where Indiana emphasizes the reduction of post-feeds. The staff is very closely tracking defensive time of possession, which shows how far into the shot clock Indiana is holding the opposing offense. More objectively, he wants the Hoosiers to be in the top 50 of teams when it comes to defensive time of possession.

The Hoosiers have had caused very few shot clock violations this season, if any. This is also with the help of the NCAA rule change for 20 second clock resets after offensive rebounds. Look for this to be a major point of emphasis for the Hoosiers going into Saturday.

Photo: Waco Tribune-Herald

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