Heading into our matchup with the Arizona Wildcats, the Indiana Hoosiers are riding a wave of momentum. Trouncing Nebraska at home was much needed following the statistical anomaly that was Indiana’s shooting at Rutgers. With 2 of their toughest back-to-back games coming, time for Hoosiers to continue the Big Ten tour of dominance that the Purdue Boilermakers have largely been quarterbacking.
The Arizona Wildcats could very well present the Hoosiers with their most difficult test to date. The Wildcats find themselves in an oddly similar situation as the Indiana Hoosiers, having loss their conference opener away with a night of poor shooting against Utah. They then handled Cal at home in their own “get right” game. Admittedly, the Hoosiers “get right” was much more joyous, as Cal played the Wildcats to a closer one than the score would tell. I don’t watch much PAC 12 ball, but sounds by all measure the 0-8 Cal should have been easily handled by the Arizona team. The Wildcats will be fighting hard for this, with questions of their toughness and athleticism starting to rise. Time for the Hoosiers to bring the same chip on the shoulder and tenacity that they displayed Wednesday night against the Huskers and get the win in Las Vegas on Saturday.
When Trayce was a limited factor against the Rutgers defense, his teammates were unable to capitalize on shots opened up by the defensive pressure on him. With improved team shooting, and improved distribution and vision by Trayce Jackson-Davis, Trayce was able to rack up assists by distributing from down low. Trayce will need to continue to show his dominance in Vegas for the Hoosiers to pull this win out.
Trayce displayed in his triple double an emotion that was absent in the Rutgers game. You saw him playing with an edge and enjoy it. That attitude spills onto the court into performances like we saw in the Huskers game. It’s the tenacity he displayed to start the season. I was ecstatic to see him bounce back and express himself in front of his home fans. This attitude is now essential to this teams’ success. Trayce has no choice but to pack it for Las Vegas. I am fully confident that Trayce will follow up his big statistical night, with a big program win!
The Indiana Hoosiers will need to be able to rely on Malik Reneau to be a huge presence off the bench against the Wildcats. While Malik has found himself in foul trouble, I believe those issues will resolve themselves. He’s young, in his first year he may need some time to acclimate to the endless grind that is Big Ten college basketball. I’m fully confident these weaker showings of his will go a long way in him putting it all together in games to follow. We’ve seen he’s got every tool to dominate the college game eventually, so let’s just call this growing pains. The growing pains that Malik and the Indiana program as a whole will be better for.
With Jalen Hood-Schifino day to day with his back spasms, I just pray he’s on the court come tip on Saturday. While Trey and Tamar made up for any loss production against Nebraska and Trayce made up for any loss in distribution, what Jalen brings to this team is still an irreplaceable threat that often times is the fuel that has gotten this offense going. His ability to drive and dish is second to none on this team right now. If we have Trayce dishing like he was against Nebraska from the post, and Jalen distributing on the perimeter while also threatening the interior drive, Indiana’s offense is truly at its most open.
Trey came out against the Huskers with the intention of putting Hoosier fans’ hearts at ease, displaying his full capability to work as the engine of the offense. Providing crucial distribution and making his shots he ended with his career high 20 points. I fully expect this to carry forward for Trey. Games like that go a long way in proving to player that he is fully capable of that. It’s a confidence builder unlike any other. Excited to see how Trey utilizes that confidence against the Arizona Wildcats.
Oumar Ballo is the Wildcat big man to watch. The Hoosiers must put a body on him in the post, and that is a spot where the Hoosiers must win in this one. Second chance points have to remain few and far between. Ballo leads the Wildcats with 9.3 rebounds a game. Nearly averaging a double double, I don’t think him or the Wildcat front court will throw anything at the Hoosiers that they aren’t fully capable and prepared to handle.
Arizona guard Pelle Larson has been largely disappointing for the Wildcats. He is currently shooting 27.3% behind the arc on the season. Their whole fanbase is waiting for this guy to put it all together in a game and really contribute. Here’s hoping that Indiana’s staunch defense isn’t the game that allows him to do so.
The Indiana defense is going to have to be as relentless as ever in this one. Arizona will depend on more shooting than any Big Ten opponent we may be accustomed to. If Indiana isn’t able to get out on shooters while retaining their box out assignments, the Hoosiers could be in for a long night.
I fully expect the Hoosiers to keep things rolling into Vegas. Bouncing back and competing with the best of them is what championship teams do in the regular season. I’m looking for Indiana to not let this opportunity to keep snowballing momentum slip away. If Jalen Hood-Schifino is back in this one I want to see a Homecoming party. I want to see the offense having fun (with or without him), the offense is figuring out that we have the options to win even when the go to’s aren’t there. The Indiana team that left Assembly Hall are a freight train of championship potential with or without JHS, and the Wildcats find themselves square on the tracks.
I fully expect the Indiana Hoosiers to come home from Vegas victorious. No luck needed.
Thanks for taking the time to read my short thoughts heading into the Arizona matchup. Give me a listen morning after the game on the Often Daunted podcast! Have a great day Hoosier fans and down with the Wildcats!
LUX ET VERITAS!