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Indiana Basketball Game Preview: Iowa – key storylines, injury report, how to watch



Previewing Indiana basketball vs Iowa by looking at key storylines, injury reports, how to watch and other updates. (Photo Credit: Indiana University Athletics)

Indiana basketball returns to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall during its 124th season of competition for a matchup against the Iowa Hawkeyes. Hoosiers are currently on a three-game losing skid as January wraps up.

The Hawkeyes (12-8, 4-5) are second in the Big Ten in scoring at 85.1 points per game. Iowa scores 94.9 points per game in victories and 71.6 points per outing in losses. Head coach Fran McCaffery, who is in his 14th season on the Iowa sideline, is the program’s all-time leader in career wins at 273. He passed Dr. Tom Davis (271) on the list.

Fifth-year senior forward Ben Krikke, a transfer from Valparaiso, averages 15.7 points per game to lead the Hawkeyes. Senior guard, and Indianapolis native, Tony Perkins posts a line of 15.2 points, 4.0 rebounds, 4.2 assists, and 1.8 steals per night.

Junior forward Payton Sandfort (14.5 points, 6.9 rebounds) and freshman forward Owen Freeman (11.2, 6.2) each hit double figures in the scoring column.

Scouting Notes: Iowa

Tip is scheduled for 7:00 PM ET on BTN.

Below is the full preview of Indiana basketball vs Iowa.

Key Storylines

Mike Woodson is getting smarter with lineups up and rotations 

At this point in the year and what the current state of the Indiana basketball program is, this has quickly been shifted to a learning season for Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers.

One of the bigger areas that Mike Woodson has seemingly gotten better at and learned from over the recent slump for Indiana basketball is how he utilizes his lineups and overall rotations. For the first couple months of the season, this one of the bigger issues the Indiana basketball head coach was facing.

In the past few games, Woodson has used less of his bench and has cut down on the extended breaks of his starters. While he may still trust his bench, Woodson has seemingly realized that Indiana is at their best when the starters are on the floor.

We also saw Mike Woodson experiment with Mackenzie Mgbako at the 4 last game at Illinois. With Kel’el Ware being out, the Hoosiers were forced to go with a smaller lineup at times and overall, Mgbako made some promising plays while playing more in the frontcourt. That would be something that I think many fans would be willing to see more often.

And speaking of Mackenzie Mgbako….

Mackenzie Mgbako is playing his way to a possible Big Ten Freshman of the Year

…the freshman forward is officially playing up to his potential and is just getting better and better each and every game. Honestly, is Big Ten Freshman of the Year on the horizon? If so, that would be two years in a row that Indiana basketball would have the Big Ten Freshman of the Year with former guard Jalen Hood-Schifino winning last season.

In his last 15 games, he’s averaging 12.8 points per game while shooting 42.1% from the field and 37.9 percent from three. He has nine games in the last 15 with at least two made 3s. He also has eight games with at least four free throw attempts, an area where he leads the Hoosiers in shooting 85% from the line. He’s scored 10+ points in 13 of the last 15 points and has seen his usage increase.

“Sometimes you gotta fail to be successful,” Woodson said last game. “I like his work ethic. When he’s in practice, he gives you what he’s got. But tonight, you saw a guy that was relentless on the board. He rebounded for us when we needed it and he made tough shots inside. I’m happy with Mack, man, I just think he’s gonna continue to get better as the games go along.”

Mgbako is now averaging 10.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game while shooting 40.6% from the field including 32.9% from three. He also has the second-highest usage rate for Indiana this year behind Reneau.

Just like it did for Hood-Schifino last season, it took awhile for Mgbako to figure things out in the college level. The defense is still an issue with him, but the offense is there now. Don’t be shocked to see the five-star freshman forward make a strong case for Big Ten Freshman of the Year.

Hoosiers needed to come back home in the worst way

It has not been a fun, recent stretch for the Hoosiers. Out of all the Big Ten teams in the conference, there likely was not a harder stretch for any team than what the Hoosiers just went through in their last three games. The Hoosiers recently had a stretch of playing in-state rival Purdue and traveling to both Wisconsin and Illinois with Indiana basketball going 0-3 in that stretch. While their was plenty of opportunity, the Hoosiers could not capitalize.

Coming home tonight must feel really good for this Indiana ballclub.

Even though Indiana is at home tonight and for their next game following that, the pressure is still as high as ever. They face an Iowa team that is in nearly the same boat as the Hoosiers with the Hawkeyes needing to get some big wins as well. Iowa is also a team that Indiana has struggled with Mike Woodson never beating Iowa during his tenure at Indiana thus far.

Indiana basketball has to start racking up some wins. This week would be a great chance for the Hoosiers to do so.

Read: ‘Sometimes you gotta fail to be successful’: Mackenzie Mgbako continues to evolve all-around game for Indiana basketball

Series History

Indiana basketball holds a series advantage of 106-82 against Iowa. The Hawkeyes won both matchups between the two programs last season.

All-American forward Trayce Jackson-Davis tallied 30 points, nine rebounds, three assists, and three blocks, while freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino added 21 points and nine assists in a 91-89 loss at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Jan. 5, 2023.

Indiana last defeated Iowa on Feb. 7, 2021. The Hoosiers toppled the No. 8 Hawkeyes by a score of 67-65. Jackson-Davis and Race Thompson combined for 32 points and 18 boards in the upset win.

More: There’s no moral victory. Indiana basketball had the winning formula but failed to make the ‘plays coming down the stretch’ at Illinois 

Injury Updates

Kel’el Ware: The Indiana basketball sophomore center missed the last two games due to rolling up his ankle in practice. Mike Woodson said that he “hopes” to get Ware back for this game vs Iowa.

Jakai Newton: Newton had a lower body surgical procedure done this past offseason to help fix a previous injury he sustained during high school. He is still recovering and is not expected to play for the rest of the season.

Related: Mike Woodson hints key adjustment for Mackenzie Mgbako could be ‘a weapon’ moving forward

Quick Hitters

Who?: Indiana (12-8) (4-5 Big Ten) vs Iowa (12-8) (4-5 Big Ten)

When?: Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024 • 7 PM ET

Where?: Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall (17,222) • Bloomington, Ind.

TV: BTN (Kevin Kugler, Brian Butch)

Radio: IU Radio Network (Don Fischer, Errek Suhr, John Herrick)

Betting Lines: Indiana basketball is listed as a 1.5-point underdog via DraftKings Sportsbook.

SEE ALSO: ‘One of the best players in our league’: Fran McCaffery gives high praise to Indiana basketball forward Malik Reneau

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Kyler Staley is a Basketball Recruiting Analyst for Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Kyler has been in the basketball recruiting industry since 2019 and is a credentialed media member. He has covered Indiana since 2021 while continuing to also work for Prep Hoops Indiana. He has previously worked for Rivals.