Indiana Basketball: 3 Takeaways from Gritty win against Ohio State

Malik Reneau and Xavier Johnson shine for Indiana Basketball in comeback win at home in Bloomington.
Indiana's Malik Reneau (5) shoots over Ohio State's Felix Okpara (34) during the first half of the
Indiana's Malik Reneau (5) shoots over Ohio State's Felix Okpara (34) during the first half of the / Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY
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Indiana Basketball
Jan 6, 2024; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers center Kel'el Ware (1) attempts a shot past Zed Key. / Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Must get Tougher in the Middle

Ohio State center Felix Okpara had 15 rebounds. Indiana had 24 total. Okpara had five offensive rebounds. Indiana had seven total. The Hoosiers are two athletic and long to get dominated on the boards the way they were against Ohio State. Indiana was out rebounded 49-27, including 22-7 on the offensive glass.

Charles Barkley famously said, "any knucklehead can score" in one of his Nike commercials. He had a point. Rebounding takes making the little things second nature. There was a play where Bruce Thornton drove to the basket. Okpara slid in front of Malik Reneau, not to receive the ball on a penetrate and pass, but to rebound if Thornton missed.

Thornton did miss, and Okpara was there for the rebound and put back. Why? By the time Thornton was past the 3-second line, Okpara was in position. He was not in a position to get the ball; he was ready for a rebound should it come. That is a little thing that is second nature.

Okpara is the type of player that does not look for or need the ball to score. That is why he nearly out-rebounded Indiana by himself.

Another example of a lack of physicality on the part of Indiana was Okpara coming up with an offensive rebound despite having three Hoosiers around him. Ware has to get stronger in his upper body and hands; there were too many times when he was out-muscled for rebounds or had the ball slapped from his hands.