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CJ Gunn provides spark for Indiana basketball in big road win over Michigan



Indiana Basketball
Indiana basketball guard CJ Gunn (11) shoots over Michigan's Nimari Burnett (4) during Indiana's road victory at the Crisler Center © Indiana Athletics

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — Indiana basketball took down Michigan Tuesday night in its first true road game of the season in Ann Arbor, 78-75.

The game was a grind for the Hoosiers, but they were able to pull out the victory over the Wolverines after a late bucket from Kel’el Ware put them ahead for good.

While Ware and his front-court buddy ball partner, Malik Reneau, each played a big role in the win, it was the Indiana bench who made the difference. Indiana scored 28 points off the bench, and every bench player scored at least six points on the road.

Player Q&A: Malik Reneau and CJ Gunn react to Indiana basketball’s 78-75 win against Michigan

Sophomore guard CJ Gunn highlighted the play of the bench in Tuesday’s win. Gunn finished with eight points including a pair of threes, and added four steals on the defensive end of the court for the Hoosiers.

Indiana basketball needed somebody to step up from behind the arc and Gunn was able to do that for the Hoosiers. Gunn shot 2-of-3 from three while the rest of the roster combined to shoot 1-of-6.

After making his first shot from distance, it seemed to be a spark for Gunn who has been working hard to get back on track shooting the ball.

“Even if I would have missed it, I still act like nothing happened. All the work I’ve been putting in, getting shots up with Jordy [Jordan Hulls] and Coach [Calbert] Cheaney,” Gunn said about making the first three he took. “I was never nervous to take the shot and I’m glad it fell cause it definitely boosted my confidence for the rest of the game.”

Indiana has been looking for this from CJ Gunn who was recruited as a shooter, but he struggled to shoot the ball from three during his freshman season. The start of this season has not looked great for Gunn, who had not made a three-point attempt through seven games, but Tuesday showcased his ability to shoot the ball from distance.

Gunn was just 2-of-28 on 3s in his first 27 career games.

Even with the struggles Gunn never lost confidence and even quoted Wayne Gretzky when talking about his shooting performance after the game.

“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take,” Gunn said with a smile.

While a lot will be made about his play on the offensive end, and rightfully so, the defensive side is where Gunn had the most success against Michigan. His energy and effort on that end of the floor during his season-high 20 minutes of play, helped Indiana basketball pull out the close win on the road.

Gunn praised Mike Woodson’s defensive scheme when talking about his ability on that end of the court.

“Just being in the right spots. We have a defensive and coach holds us accountable for being in the right place at the right time,” Gunn said about the defense. “With my speed and athleticism, his defense is a great setup for me to get steals.”

Gunn had half of Indiana’s eight steals and closed the game out for the Hoosiers because of his play on the defensive end.

Indiana held Michigan’s leading scorer Dug McDaniel to 13 points on 3-of-14 shooting and Gunn played a huge role in that effort. Gunn did a good job of moving his feet and fighting through screens when guarding the Wolverine guards.

Gunn’s offense and shooting ability are what made fans so excited for his arrival in Bloomington, but his play on the defense end is what will keep him on the court for Indiana basketball and Tuesday showcased an example of what could come from the sophomore guard.

“It’s amazing,” Gunn said about his breakout game. “I’ve been waiting for this game and this is proof of all the work that I’ve been putting in.”

SEE ALSO: Gritty and tough. Slowly, the identity of this Indiana basketball team is forming following another physical Big Ten win

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Drew Rosenberg is staff writer for and hosts 'The Talkin' Bout the Hoosiers Podcast' covering Indiana University athletics. Drew is a senior, studying Sports Media and will graduate from the Indiana University Media School in the spring of 2024.