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Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson comments on benching of Xavier Johnson



Indiana basketball guard Xavier Johnson
Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson commented on the benching of Xavier Johnson in the starting lineup against Minnesota. (Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana basketball cruised to a 74-62 win over Minnesota on Friday night in what was one of its better all-around performances this season.

One change that took affect was the starting lineup. Starting point guard Xavier Johnson came off the bench on Friday with freshman Gabe Cupps being inserted back into the starting lineup. Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson addressed the change postgame.

“I mean, in-house stuff,” Woodson said. “I decided to go with Gabe, and Gabe came in and played extremely well. I thought the minutes X played were positive minutes to help us win.”

The benching comes after a flagrant 2 and ejection for Johnson in Tuesday’s loss to Rutgers.

At the 13:15 mark of the second half on Tuesday, Johnson got caught up in a ball screen on the defensive end of the floor. When trying to get over top of the screen, he reached between the legs of Rutgers forward Antwone Woolfolk, hitting him in the groin area. Johnson was then pushed to the floor by Woolfolk causing a whistle and a review by the refs. A blatant and unacceptable action by Johnson resulted in the ejection.

The Big Ten announced this week that there would be no additional punishment for Johnson.

On Friday, Johnson didn’t check into the game until the 12:44 mark of the first half. He played 17 minutes, scoring two points on 0-of-2 from the field. He added one assist, one steal and two turnovers. Overall he had a +/- of -13. That was a team-worst.

Johnson was visibly frustrated on the sidelines in the second half as he threw his arm sleeve towards the bench after getting subbed out. Assistant coach Yasir Rosemond went over and put his arm around him while calming him down.

Freshman Gabe Cupps played 30 minutes and while he was 0-of-5 and scorelsss on the night, he added four rebounds and one assist. He tied a team-high with +19 in his minutes.

Senior guard Trey Galloway had 10 points, seven assists and zero turnovers in 25 minutes. He has emerged as a true point guard over the last month while Johnson has been working his way back in the lineup. In the last six games, Galloway is averaging 6.2 assists and just 1.7 turnovers per game. He has a 3.65 assist-to-turnover ratio and four games with at least 7+ assists over that span.

For Johnson, he’s struggled in his return to the lineup. In the four games back, he is averaging just 5.5 points per game on 27.8 percent from the field with 2.3 assists and 2.8 turnover per game. He went scoreless in 15 minutes against Nebraska and had four combined points in 40 minutes against Rutgers and Minnesota.

Indiana basketball (12-5, 4-2) is back on the floor against No. 1 Purdue at home on Tuesday night.

SEE ALSO: ‘He works on it in practice and it translates to the game’: Mackenzie Mgbako stars as Indiana basketball takes down Minnesota

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.