Alcorn State Victory Leaves Questions Unanswered

Indiana beat down on the Alcorn State Braves 112-70 on Monday night. Indiana opened the game on a 12-0 run highlighted by aggressive play on both sides of the ball. James Blackmon Jr. scored a career high 33 points. IU shot over 67% from the field and 57% from 3-point land. IU had 12 steals and 25 defensive rebounds.

With all that said, I find it incredibly hard to take anything positive away from this game.

How can you? Alcorn State is a 0-6 team that came into this game ranked 348th out of 351 by Ken Pomeroy.

Everyone knows this Indiana team can score. Coming into today they were first in the Big Ten in points scored per game (76.5), field goal percentage (47.2), and three-point field goal percentage (39.8). These stats will only skyrocket after today’s performance.

But scoring isn’t the issue. IU scored points in Maui too. The focus for today’s game had to be what Indiana has been struggling in, and that’s defense, turnovers, rebounding and free throws.

Defensively, Indiana gave up 70 points to a team that only averages 59.8 per game. They gave up 38 points in the paint and 14 second chance points.

In terms of ball security, Indiana still had 12 turnovers leading to 18 points for Alcorn. They looked overwhelmed when trying to feed the ball down low to Thomas Bryant or Max Bielfeldt and this Indiana team still seems to get in its own way too often.

On the glass, Alcorn State had 15 offensive rebounds and 26 in total. Simple things such as boxing out seemed to have slipped players minds just like they did in Maui.

The only improvement as a team that can be seen was at the free throw line shooting over 76%.

Now on an individual basis, it was good to see James Blackmon Jr. come back into form by shooting a lights out 73% from the field and really focusing on the defensive side of the ball with 4 steals. Blackmon’s defensive effort is a real focus for Coach Crean, telling James, “The offense comes so easy to you, you shouldn’t worry about that. But, when you defend like that, that’s what’s going to happen.”

Coach Crean also highlighted the importance of Blackmon’s defensive efforts reaching the box score saying, “We see it as coaches and you can show it on film, but it so different when our players see the results. They need those reminders.” Blackmon’s 4 steals certainly did that.

Tom Crean was also adamant about how well Troy Williams played, by referencing his near double double and ability to get to the offensive glass in the second half.

With all of this said, the questions all now look towards Duke on Wednesday.

“It’s our first real road game,” explained Crean. “They’re a tremendous challenge. They drive to the rim. They get fouled. They have inside and outside attacks. I think Grayson Allen might be averaging 7 or 8 fouls drawn a game. That’s tough. We’re going to have to be really really sharp defensively.”

It will be interesting to see how disciplined Indiana can be with fouls on Wednesday.

It will also be nice to see Thomas Bryant in his first big matchup when he goes up against Marshall Plumlee.

“He came out with Cody Zeller, and Cody has already been in the NBA for 3 years,” Crean said. ”Plumlee is an energy force for this team and it’s going to be hard to deal with his length and strength.”

WIUX will be live from Cameron Indoor at 9:15PM Wednesday night with Kevin Hyland and Sam Rumpza on the call.