Indiana Basketball opened Big Ten Play with a win against Maryland.
Indiana basketball defeated the Maryland Terrapins in its Big Ten season opener on Friday night, 65-53.
Continuing an exciting few days in Bloomington, Mike Woodson’s squad begins conference play 1-0. The Hoosiers got off to a quick start and never looked back.
Maryland head coach Kevin Willard was forced to call timeout before the first media break after Mackenzie Mgbako out-hustled the Terps for an offensive rebound and putback. Maximum effort was the game’s theme, as Maryland was a step slower than Indiana throughout the contest, allowing the Hoosiers to win most of the 50-50 balls.
After the timeout, Malik Reneau and Kel’el Ware hit back-to-back three-pointers to extend the lead to 16-4. The Hoosiers only hit one other shot from behind the arc for the rest of the game, but it did not matter. They used their “buddy ball” offensive strategy to dominate the Terps inside.
Maryland cut the lead to seven with 3:39 left in the half, but Ware restored order with a jumper plus the foul on the next possession. Ware finished the night with his third double-double of the young season, scoring 18 points and grabbing 14 rebounds.
“I thought he did a great job demanding the ball and holding his own,” Mike Woodson said in his postgame press conference. Ware has had some dominant performances against low majors early on, but his 2-10 shooting performance against UCONN brought his ability to produce against better competition into question. Tonight’s performance hushed these doubts.
Indiana basketball ended the first half with a 40-28 lead. The last two Hoosier field goals came from Mgbako by way of a corner three, followed by a tough fadeaway jumper. The highly touted freshman had a productive first half, scoring 11 points on 4/8 from the field. While he did not convert another field goal in the second half, Mgbako remained engaged throughout the game as he also amassed seven rebounds, three assists, and one steal overall.
The Hoosiers grew their 12-point halftime lead in the second half. Trey Galloway scored three straight layups to extend the lead to 48-31 with 15 minutes remaining in the game. With sixth-year senior Xavier Johnson out, Woodson needed production from his backcourt. Galloway stepped up to the challenge with an excellent overall performance, scoring 12 points, six rebounds, and six assists. He carried the load as fellow guards Gabe Cupps, CJ Gunn, and Anthony Leal combined for two points.
“He’s going to have to do more and give us more… I was pleased with his play from the beginning to the end,” said Woodson on Galloway’s performance.
Indiana was up by as many as 23 points with 11 minutes left in the second half and maintained a comfortable lead for the remainder of the game. Maryland cut the lead to 12 after a Julian Reese “and one” with 5 minutes to go, but it was a little too late for Willard’s squad. A Kel’el Ware jump shot, and Malik Reneau free throws brought the lead back up to 16 with three minutes left and put this game away for the Hoosiers.
Mike Woodson’s squad struggled mightily on the defensive end to start the season, but the grit and aggressiveness on this side of the ball shined brightest in the victory.
“The Big Ten is tough. They let you play. If you do not meet the challenge, you will be exposed as a team,” coach Woodson said after the game.
Defensive performances like this can help Indiana basketball win massive games during the bulk of Big Ten play. The Hoosiers contested every shot, jumped on every loose ball, and communicated effectively on defense. They held the Terrapins to 35.7% from the field and 12.5% from three. Although Maryland’s stars Jahmir Young and Julian Reese did find ways to score, Indiana only allowed 19 points to the rest of the Terrapin squad. Fifty-three points is the lowest point for an Indiana opponent this season.
Indiana basketball will head to Ann Arbor on Tuesday, December 5th, to face the Michigan Wolverines in hopes of a 2-0 Big Ten start.